Woo Hoo! We’re finally in Spring! The weather has been beautiful here in Harrisburg. The Harrisburg Senators kicked off their season last week (I have a soft spot for baseball thanks to Little League), the grass is turning green again, and I can hear the birds in the morning. I’ve been appreciating the sunshine more, especially since this winter seemed tougher than usual. Maybe it’s because I moved and didn’t really get to enjoy the fall as much as I normally do.
Now that the weather is nice, that means we can do outdoor activities and get our butts out of the gym and on the trail! Harry King, the director of personal training and my personal trainer at Gold’s Gym, is getting clients out for trail runs on Saturday mornings to prepare for the Spartan Super in July. I’m out on the trails with CB with Harrisburg Young Professionals (check them out if you’re between the ages of 18 and 40 in the local area. It’s $40 a year for membership and they’re VERY active in the community), and I saw my girl Kate out kayaking yesterday.
So this is inspiring this post and the next active post; Getting out in the sunshine (or dancing in the rain if that’s your thing) and enjoying all that spring offers. If you’re not feeling the gym because it’s sooo nice out, here are the first 5 great alternatives to the gym
1. Take Your Workout Outside
This one is really easy. If you still want that gym workout feel, just take it outside! A lot of CrossFit gyms and other niche gyms will be opening their doors and doing their lifts outside or running circuit workouts outside as the weather continues to improve.
Your other option is to take a bodyweight workout to the park and run along a trail. Every 5 minutes or whenever you come across a picnic table, stop and do a set of push-ups, squats, sit-ups, mountain climbers, planks, glute bridges, whatever floats your goat.
Front street here in Harrisburg has a running trail with various equipment for stopping and working on some bodyweight strength. Parks are also implementing this concept. Don’t be afraid to use them even if it says it’s for seniors! There’s usually a beginner and advanced movement, so don’t be afraid to use it.
A lot of people my mom and dad’s age have kicked my ass in the cardio health department for sure. I need to start implementing more cardio into my life (I’ll write more about this later).
2. Take a Hike! And Your Little Dog Too!
There’s tons of trails here in Central PA and being along the Appalachian Trail means there’s no shortage of access or trails. All of the trails are dog-friendly too, so don’t be scared to get lost in the woods for a little bit. Just don’t get so lost like I did out in Johnstown one afternoon that you consider calling emergency services to get you out. More on that later.
I recently completed 6 miles up at Duncannon Water Shed along the river. Gorgeous views, a little challenging, but overall worth it. I would definitely recommend the trail.
The Appalachian Trail that picks up in Carlisle, PA is also beautiful. I went mid-October, so all the leaves had fallen from the trees already and the trail was all forest, so it’s quieter, save for the road the runs right beside it.
Rager Mountain out in Johnstown, PA is challenging but also beautiful. There is a moderate and advanced trail. If you decide to hike this one, please be aware of the mis-marked path. My partner and I got lost for 1.5 hours on this trail because a number of the trees weren’t marked correctly. Definitely research this trail before you go.
There’s plenty of other trails around too, so go explore! If you’re not sure what’s in your area, check out the AllTrails App (no I don’t get a commission for promoting this). This is truly a great app for finding beautiful sights nearby for your fitness level.
My favorite thing to do in the summer is be near or on the water. River, lake, pool, ocean, you name it, I’m there. Kayaking is great way to get on the water and enjoy the sunshine without investing heavily in a boat.
If you don’t have a kayak, you can rent one from a local outdoor shop or buy a used one online. Do your due diligence though and make sure all your gear is safe.
If you’re new to the scene, going in a lake where only non-motorized boats are allowed is a great place to start. River kayaks are especially hard to flip and on calm waters, almost impossible. White water kayaks are easier to flip and you’ll see the distinct difference between the two in appearance and price.
Rose Valley Lake up above Williamsport, PA is one of my favorite lakes to kayak on because of the variety of wildlife. I’ve seen turtles, immature eagles, herons, swarms of dragonflies, fish, beavers, deer, and even bear tracks. Definitely worth the trip up for a picnic.
4. Bouldering/ Rock Climbing
While I personally don’t do this myself (I’m deathly afraid of heights and falling), a lot of outdoor enthusiasts love bouldering and rock climbing. I can’t say much, only that there are several places in Bloomsburg, PA and a few around Harrisburg that are good places to go. If you’re in Bloomsburg, I would reach out to Quest at Bloomsburg University for places to go. If you’re in Harrisburg, I would reach out to Climbnasium in Mechanicsburg or members of the sports committee of HYP and they’ll hook you up.
Many members of both organizations participate in a wide range of activities and try to hit a lot of different places in the area, so this would also be a great way to meet new people if you’re new to the area and looking for friends.
5. Volunteer as a Dog Walker
Plenty of shelter animals need adopting (or you can become a dog walker as a part-time job). This is great for doing some good in your community while also staying healthy. Shelters are always looking for volunteers (P.S. A lot of them work with your busy schedule too!). You might even fall in love with a new best friend.
Believe it or not, dog owners get more steps in during the day than other pet owners (hooray!). Dog-owners walked 23 more minutes and non-dog owners and took 2,760 more steps than their counterparts, according to Amanda MacMillian on Health.com. It’s a pretty interesting study with some additional links to some interesting articles.
No matter your fitness preference, when the weather gets nice, being outside is always better. So if you want to stay active and enjoy the sunshine, I encourage you to head outside. Of course, there’s many more alternatives than this, but this gives you a good start.
Remember, eating healthy and exercising is a celebration of your body and all it can do, not a punishment for every wrong meal choice you made or exercise you didn’t do.