With warmer temperatures and spring in full swing, it’s a great time to get back outside, especially when it comes to working out. Luckily, there’s a slew of outdoor fitness trends that are ready for the taking and will get you moving in no time. “Spring is a great time to work out, or to start working out again if you haven't been, since spring signifies ‘rebirth,’” Shaun Zetlin, founder of Zetlin Fitness, tells TZR in an email. “And with the longer days and warmer temperatures (for most of us), the change of season can inspire new habits to make for a healthier version of ourselves.” Plus, for people who live with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), partaking in outdoor activities can prove helpful in improving your mood. After all, daylight is a natural form of light therapy!
Kelly Manzone, personal trainer, says people are seeking to restore their energy right now by regrounding themselves and creating community. “There is a greater emphasis on activity that impacts and boosts mood for improved mental health,” she tells TZR in an email. “People want routines and activities that bring them joy and connection, especially in trying times.” She adds that getting outside is also helpful in relieving stress. “It’s popular because it’s so accessible and restorative — it’s easy to grab equipment like a training stick or dumbbells and get in a quick workout outdoors. Or you can just walk around the neighborhood. Right now, we are starting to see more road races and adult activities/sports teams back up and running since the start of the pandemic — which are all great activities to join if you need an extra push to get going with your fitness routine.”
Dan Jonhenry, expert trainer at Retro Fitness, says that spring is a great time for people to work out because it’s an uplifting time of year and working out outside gives you a change of scenery. “Getting outdoors makes it feel less like exercise,” he tells TZR in an email. However, he warns that while fitness trends are a great way to get motivated and kick off a workout routine, consistency is still key to maintaining a healthy regimen and avoiding any injuries. “With trends, we sometimes see people ditch the routine after three or so weeks — and injuries can happen if you push your body too hard over a short period of time,” he says. “If you want the long-term results and health benefits, it’s important to keep at a healthy pace, plan accordingly, and plan for the future. These trends can be great for starting a workout routine, but consistency and longevity are what will help you achieve the goals you’re working toward.”
Ahead, fitness experts share their predictions around outdoor fitness trends for spring.
Walking & Hiking
Zetlin says walking will be a very popular outdoor fitness trend this spring. “People will be so excited to get outside since they have been mostly homebound,” he says. “It's also a social activity to enjoy with a friend or family member and can be a quick form of exercise within even the busiest of schedules.” And though you may not think of walking as a workout, think again. There are an endless number of health benefits from walking, cites the Mayo Clinic. Zetlin agrees. “It burns calories, increases bone density, promotes better balance, improves mood/emotions, aids with digestion, and decreases your chances for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis,” he notes. “Some of the best methods to amp up your walking workouts are to make them more intense through interval training, go for farther distances, add in inclines and declines (hills), and focus on engaging your core, glutes, and quads while moving.”
Similarly, Cathy Spencer-Browning, VP of programming and training at MOSSA, an on-demand fitness program, thinks hiking will take off more than ever this spring — whether you use footpaths, trails, or go explore some National Parks. “Hiking has great health benefits, such as improving heart health, balance, endurance, and lower body strength,” she tells TZR in an email. “Depending on the challenge of the terrain, it helps fortify two of the six fundamental movement categories, walking and lunging, which help maintain one’s movement health. This results in a body that moves well and feels great. Walking ensures a healthy gait and lunging ensures hip mobility, balance, coordination, and strength.” Plus, according to Harvard Health Publishing, it can also help improve your mood, which will benefit your mental health.
Adding arm and/or leg weights or resistance to your walks and hikes can give you an added workout, too. Bala founders Natalie Holloway and Max Kislevitz say spring is a great time to up the ante to your outdoor movement. “By adding resistance to your outdoor walking and hiking this spring, your muscles have to work harder to move this increased load against gravity,” they tell TZR in an email. “In turn, this will increase strength while catching up with your friends and enjoying the fresh air. That’s a win-win.”
Manzone says that since we’ve all been through a lot the past two years, getting outside, especially for physical activity, is a great way to reconnect with ourselves and others. “People are really hungry for a sense of community after so much time apart, which is why more individuals are returning to sports, joining running groups, or participating in group fitness together (which many are doing outdoors!),” she says. “One of the things I am both seeing and encouraging my clients to do is focus on activities that truly bring you joy.”
Manzone recommends tapping into something you loved during childhood and revisiting it as an adult. “This could mean joining a basketball or softball team, diving into a pool and swimming laps, or joining a running or hiking group,” she says. “Even rollerblading or roller skating around the neighborhood — alone or with others — can be a great way to be active while having a good time.” Jonhenry agrees about running clubs and group sports. “They’re a great way to switch up the modality and an example of a trend you can use to make a consistent part of your lifestyle and fitness routine,” he says. “Plus, there’s a level of support you didn’t have when you were going to the gym by yourself, and now you have the social interaction that gets your fitness routine on track.”
“People are really embracing simplicity and strength training basics lately in regards to their fitness,” says Manzone — something she thinks will continue this spring. “In terms of equipment to enhance workouts, we saw people seek out smaller items that are easy to store in the home — whether it’s a StickMobility training stick, TRX bundles, wrist weights, dumbbells, or kettlebells. And the great thing about this type of equipment is it’s so easy to store, grab, and take with you — whether it’s to a park, garage with the door open, or backyard. Anywhere really.”
Spencer-Browning says gardening is a great healthy outdoor activity that’ll be a trend this spring. “It can incorporate the other fundamental movement categories necessary to improve your movement health,” she says. “These include bending, squatting, rotating, and going from the ground to standing. By gardening, you will fortify and strengthen these types of movements, which will keep you feeling good in your body.” Plus, being out in nature has many health benefits, from reducing stress to improving your overall mental state. And, with more and more individuals choosing to grow their own food — which can not only be beneficial healthwise, but also cost-effective — they’ll also benefit from the workout that gardening brings.
Taking Fitness Apps Outdoors
While many people love their Pelotons and TRX workouts, spring is the perfect time to take your fitness tech devices outdoors. Megan Roup, celebrity fitness trainer and founder of The Sculpt Society, thinks this will be a spring trend. “As the temperature starts to warm up, more of us are venturing outside to get our workouts in,” she tells TZR in an email. “This could be a walk around your block as a warm up and then taking your favorite fitness app to a park to get your workout and bonus vitamin D in. Getting outside for fresh air, vitamin D, and movement can truly be an instant mood-booster!” Roup adds that it's always the right time to get into a fitness routine, but spring allows those of us who don't live in warm weather to get outside more and incorporate movement more regularly.
Bootcamp & Obstacle-Style Workouts
Jonhenry also thinks we’ll see more people participating in bootcamps (and fitness challenges, like a 90-day burn challenge), beach workouts, and obstacle courses. “They allow you to have a change from your usual environment and the opportunity to connect with others,” he says. “Plus, it gets you out doing unconventional workouts instead of being cooped up indoors. Overall, working out outside during the springtime really keeps it fresh and fun, and allows you to challenge yourself by changing up your exercise routine.”