Using the outdoors to enhance your workout

It is one of those idyllic mornings on Seven Mile Beach as the sun’s rays spread across the sky. A line of light shimmers across the sea marking the dawn of a new day.

As dawn turns to day, the view from Grand Cayman Beach Suites’ rooftop is a visual feast of sea, clouds, beach and boats. Even five floors up, you can still hear the waves rolling up the beach.

Stretching your arms skywards in the starting pose of a sun salutation, you are pleased that you made the effort to get out of bed and come to yoga class on the roof.

Out of the corner of your eye, fellow yoga practitioners stretch against the backdrop of a rising sun. And for a moment, life’s problems fall away as a sense of calm envelopes you.

“With the hectic pace of work and life, it is easy to forget that living on a tropical island offers so many opportunities to exercise [creatively] outdoors and in the process, allowing ourselves to reconnect with nature,” explains fitness instructor Dottie Rau.

“So much of our time is spent in cars, sitting at computer desks and holding our bodies in positions that are not good for us,” says Dottie.

“We spend most of our day in air-conditioning under fluorescent lighting.

“Then we go to the gym and grind out a workout on a treadmill or bike machine and watch TV to distract ourselves.

“Working outdoors allows us to use the environment to reconnect with our mind and body. We are more present when we exercise outdoors. Looking at the stars at night or watching the sun rise is a great stress reliever,” she adds.

Taking a tour around Grand Cayman’s open air spaces, I found dozens of beaches, parks and beautiful spots and hideaways to exercise and enjoy nature at the same time. Here are just a few ideas for outdoor workouts.

Beaches
Pick almost any district and you will stumble across a stunning beach. For a yoga or Pilates workout, it helps to find a spot with a tree for shade. This not only protects you against overheating but can be used as a prop in your exercise routine. Tying an elastic band to a tree can provide several ways to do strength and flexibility training.

If you prefer exercising in a group, a yoga class meets at Kaibo on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. An alternative yoga class takes place at dawn and sunrise on the rooftop at the Grand Cayman Beach Suites throughout the week.

Parks
The Dart Family Park in South Sound is an oasis for exercise. Soft grass, numerous trees, a sea view and lush gardens make this park a perfect venue for placing your mat down for yoga, Pilates or a similar programme. A few park benches provide an opportunity for side bends, dips or an alternative ballet bar. The sounds of the sea and wildlife reinforce a connection to your surroundings.

Other parks that make great exercise spots throughout the island include Jarold Henry Smith Park in North Side, Captain George Dixon Park in East End, Harry McCoy Sr. Park in Bodden Town and Scholar’s Park in West Bay.

Water
Surrounded by ocean and with swimming pools everywhere, water is an obvious choice for a personal workout. While many people think of swimming when it comes to the sea and pools, they are ideal for using as personal gyms.

Large elastic bands and water dumbbells are just some of the portable equipment used for training in the water. This type of workout helps keep the body cool during a vigorous workout and the buoyancy can help reduce injury.

Verandas and patios
Many homes and condominiums have patios, verandas or gardens, which make great spaces for gentle exercise. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves they are there. Even a boat dock can make a great work out space, especially if it doesn’t attract much foot traffic.

“Weaving the outdoors into our training makes it more enjoyable, especially at sunrise or sunset,” says yoga teacher Janelle Fleur Kroon.

So whether it is a rooftop veranda, a beach, the sea, a pool, park or a boat dock, consider taking your exercise programme outdoors and let nature feed your mind, body and soul.

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Stephen Clarke