An increasingly common notion among fitness enthusiasts in this modern era is to “get out of the gym”. It is a point that is being raised by fitness experts with nearly the same fever today as “get your ass in the gym” was 15 years ago. Of course neither camp is right, nor is either side wrong – there is value in all exercise, both in and out of the gym. The gym certainly has it’s place in modern culture, having gained in popularity over the last several decades. The gym became popular because it can lend a great deal more structure to one’s agenda — especially when one is new to exercise. Also, the gym is more accessible for many than the outdoors.
True, the outdoors is accessible for just about everyone – at least part of the year, but just what is accessible outdoors is not always the same from region to region and town to town. Deserts, beaches, mountains, prairie, and even urban sprawl can serve as an outdoor gym. However, there is much less structure exercising out of doors, which is why those who need structure cling to the gym, and despite what some preach, there is nothing wrong with getting exercise indoors, and at the gym. That said, there is a good bit more opportunity exercising out of doors – at least for the creative fitness enthusiast.
The flourishing concept I see among fitness trainers in my area is the Beach Workout. Those in my region are fortunate because we live near the water. Beach workouts in Las Vegas — well, they’re just not the same. The typical beach workout I see take place is one which may include the trainer leading people on short runs, mixed in with some lunges, pushups, squats, crunches, and sometimes even swimming in the ocean. These workouts can be very productive and challenging when pushed. However, the best element of a beach workout is almost never used by the trainers who I see do this, and that’s too bad because it’s my favorite component of a beach workout.
In fact, this one element alone, can account for an entire cardio-intensive, whole-body workout; the sum of agility training, balance, strength, stability, cardio, lower and upper body strength conditioning all at once — done spontaneously and in a natural setting. The workout in question? Climbing the jetty; that rocky structure jetting out into the ocean from the sand, built to control both tide and erosion. The jetty is a perfect free-form fitness apparatus. The act of climbing the height and length of the jetty, booth in random style, or in patterns, for a determined amount of time, can provide all the elements previously mentioned, will definitely include some spontaneity, take place in a natural medium, and nobody gets wet – hopefully, unless you choose to.
Make it a timed workout – whatever duration you are comfortable with; 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever suits your fitness level — decide that for yourself. Simply find a jetty and climb. Up, down, over, across, transverse, and back again and again in whatever patterns you choose at the moment.
Try climbing with no hands for a while – let your goal be to move up and down the jetty X amount of times, without touching your hands to a single rock. That’s good lower body strength and balance. Next, go quadrupedal and climb bent over for a period of time, both up and down the jetty face, bearing as much weight on your hands (and upper body) as possible. Climb backwards, sideways, and front-ways, and back again. Jump from low rocks to higher rocks on an ascent, back down, and up again. Jump latterly from rock to rock. Lunge from rock to rock. Stop and do some free squats along the way. Add in some push-ups against rocks. Let your knowledge and your improvisation skills combine to create fitness jazz – beach style. When you’re all done, you can even jump in the water and swim to cool off, or swim for more body work.
It should go without saying that there is an element of risk here. This is not something to attempt unless you possess a reasonable fitness level, and are instinctively confident with your actions. A jetty is a profoundly uneven surface, can be slippery, sandy, and if you’re not paying attention, waves can actually catch you from behind and pull you into the sea in an instant when your back is turned. Be careful. Proceed with caution. Do this with a partner, or at least let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. The best part of a jetty workout is paying homage to Mother Ocean when you are done and after you wipe the sweat away. Exercise with passion. Enjoy. Be well. rc