Outdoor fitness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Runners at a Parkrun event in Russia, in 2021

Outdoor fitness consists of exercise undertaken outside a building for the purpose of improving physical fitness. It contrasts with exercise undertaken inside a gym or health club for the same purpose. The activity may be undertaken in a park, in the wilderness, or other outdoor location. The popularity of outdoor fitness grew rapidly in the second-half of the twentieth century and grew as a commercial consumer market in the twenty-first century.


In nineteenth-century Germany, Turnplatz, an outdoor space for gymnastics, were promoted by German educator Friedrich Jahn and the Turners, a political and gymnastic movement.[1] After the Second World War, as people did less exercise in their daily and work lives, individualistic, health-oriented physical and recreational activities such as jogging began to prevail.[2] The Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans, developed by Dr. Bill Orban and published in 1961, and Kenneth Cooper's book "Aerobics" (1968) and mass-market version "The New Aerobics" (1979) helped to launch modern fitness culture.[3][4][5][6] There was a running boom in the 1970s and outdoor fitness trails were developed in the USA and Europe. However, most of the growth in the fitness industry was through indoor gyms and health clubs.[7][8]

Outdoor fitness boot camps developed in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom in the 1990s and Canada in 2001.[9] In the twenty-first century, outdoor fitness grew as a commercial consumer market. Outdoor group fitness classes led by a personal trainer or a fitness professional became a popular form of outdoor exercise.[10][11] A variety of training courses for fitness professionals and certifications for companies specialising in outdoor fitness developed.[12][13][14] Outdoor fitness can be studied as a specialism of exercise physiology.[15] The trend towards outdoor fitness led to a proliferation of outdoor gyms.[16][17]

Growing participation was seen in organized events that expanded internationally such as Parkruns, Tough Mudder and Be Military Fit and sports such as triathlon and cycling. Street workouts have also become a popular outdoor fitness activity is some countries, with a world championship taking place since 2011.[18] In recent years, more and schools have discovered the outdoors as a medium for education. Lakes, valleys and mountains are used for specific academic instruction in the realm of science and biology.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Limited, Alamy. "Stock Photo - Turnplatz (open-air gymnasium) in the Hasenheide, 1811". Alamy. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  2. ^ Fit Bodies. Fitness Culture and Gym Sassatelli, Roberta. 2006.
  3. ^ KRUCOFF, CAROL (22 June 1998). "Going Back to the Basics With Calisthenics". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 8 October 2018. In fact, the popularity of the Royal Canadian Air Force's calisthenics program in the late 1950s helped launch the modern fitness movement.
  4. ^ "Five basic exercises for fitness in 1961". CBC Archives. Retrieved 8 October 2018. The program became famous worldwide.
  5. ^ ""Father of Aerobics" Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH to receive Healthy Cup Award from Harvard School of Public Health". News. 16 April 2008. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Dr. Kenneth Cooper and How He Became Known as the Father of Aerobics". Club Industry. 1 September 2008. Archived from the original on 9 October 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  7. ^ Stern, Marc (2008). "The Fitness Movement and the Fitness Center Industry, 1960-2000" (PDF). Business and Economic History On-line. p. 16. Retrieved 7 October 2018. For many, however, the club was more than a second-best alternative to outdoor exercise. 'Part of the appeal and actual value of a health club, it seems, remarked journalists in Today's Health in 1972, is as much psychological as physical.'
  8. ^ "The Fitness Revolution. Historical Transformations in a Global Gym and Fitness Culture". ResearchGate. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  9. ^ "History of Boot Camps". Boot Camp & Military Fitness Institute. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  10. ^ "'We still come if the rain's sideways' – how Britain fell in love with outdoor fitness". The Guardian. 30 August 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  11. ^ "How new outdoor bootcamps are kicking Londoners into shape". Evening Standard. 21 August 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  12. ^ "YMCA Level 3 Award in Instructing Outdoor Fitness". www.ymcaawards.co.uk. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Outdoor fitness classes: a personal trainer's guide". 29 June 2016. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  14. ^ "BMF first to receive ukactive Outdoor Code of Practice certification". Health Club Management. 20 January 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  15. ^ "BSc Sport and Exercise Science (Outdoor Fitness)". University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  16. ^ "The rise of the adult playground". BBC News. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  17. ^ "Rise in outdoor gyms signals a muscling-up of the outdoor fitness industry". The Telegraph. 15 January 2017. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  18. ^ "What is street workout? - Street Workouts". Street Workouts. 11 December 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  19. ^ "History of Outdoor Adventure Education". Outdoor Adventure Education. 2014. doi:10.5040/9781492595663.ch-002.

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