3 Tips for Making a Park Into Your Very Own Gym

Neil Bernstein / Human Kinetics

Training inside of a gym is limiting—especially if you’re prepping for an endurance event or obstacle course race.

You need to challenge your body in unconventional, unexpected movements that mimic what you’ll face during race day. 

For tips, insight, and inspiration, we turned to Spartan pro obstacle racer David Magida, who says creeks and shallow riverbeds are underutilized public fitness settings that are great for “balance and ankle stability.” Here’s his advice on turning any old picnic area into a playground fit for champions.

1. Make tables your great ally

“I’m huge on my use of picnic tables,” Magida says. Try traversing them in different ways—crawl under one, jump onto and over the next. He’s known to arrange tables in sequence for an over-under-over-under series that simulates “getting up and getting down, compressing the body and teaching it not to cramp when it’s exhausted.”

2. Get your feet wet

Practice running across a creek and scaling its muddy banks. “Wading through water is great for ankle stability and that confidence to move through rocky riverbeds where you can’t necessarily see your footing,” Magida says. Plus, running with heavy, water-drenched shoes is a killer workout.

3. Do a balancing act

Set up a row of small stones of varying stability either across a creek or on dry ground, and pick your way across quickly but carefully, going step by step and staying light on your toes. “With balance obstacles, you have to be nimble and light on your feet,” says Magida. This strengthens various stabilizing muscles in your legs and core.

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