Expand Your Fitness Business Working Outdoors – By Gill Cummings Bell

Have you noticed as you drive into work the array of people of all shapes and sizes that are now exercising outdoors, from runners, to walkers to cyclists. People doing press ups on park benches, mud crawls along the ground, military fitness boot-camps, Nordic Walking along the tow path and pushing the baby in the buggy.


Current statistics for exercise participation show that the size of the industry is growing but not ‘in the way that we know it’.


When I first started working in the fitness industry (which is far too many years for me to count) the percentage of people exercising in health clubs was around 8%, if you included leisure centres, 11%. Guess what? That figure has never changed. It’s still the same.


However, the good news is that more people are active and participating in exercise up and down the country. The gym at last has gone outdoors. 80% of all people who exercise do so outdoors. Don’t panic though, if you run a health club, or work in a health club, you can still increase your business by reaching out and embracing outdoor programmes and combining them with indoor activities such as Pilates, stretch and a nice warm environment to do core work. For many years health clubs have been involved in organising running or walking clubs, so why not boot-camps?


So How Do We Do It?

There are a number of types of programmes that you can get involved in outdoors, for minimum costs. Firstly you have to ensure you have a suitable qualification for use outdoors, which includes health, safety and risk assessment. This is really important outdoors as the terrain is varied and it’s critical to assess it fully and minimise the risks to clients. Secondly you need to check your rights to use the area to run fitness classes or walking groups. This can easily be done with your local council or landowner. Sometimes they will ask you to pay a licence fee, these are often annual fees and can range from £300 to £1,000 for the year. Some landowners or councils may charge you a ‘by session’ fee.



The ideal places to look for are parks, public footpath routes, spare ground, rugby or football clubs, walkways, picnic areas, playgrounds, woods and of course the urban environment. Outdoor fitness is only limited by your imagination any environment works!



Outdoors fitness can be offered to groups, individual PT clients or the ever growing and popular small group PT, for up to four people. Clients love small group PT, as for them it’s often lower in cost and more social.


One benefit to you of training your client’s outdoors is financial; it’s just you, the trees, the blue sky and your clients. The opportunity for you to make more money and grow your business is, of course, key to your business plan but with outdoor programmes you will also have more fun and diversify your fitness career.


Research shows that purposefully designed outdoor programmes are known, beyond reasonable doubt, to lead to desired behaviour change – bringing about an increased self-esteem and a sense of purpose to life and exercise. More clients who take up outdoor exercise programmes keep up their participation level and therefore develop an active lifestyle. Think of this in success rates with your clients and getting them the results they desire and your reputation will grow as will your client base.


What Sort Of Programmes Can I Do?

Your potential outdoors is only limited by your imagination. Start with a simple military style boot-camp, these workouts are great fun and really get results. The workout uses partnered manual resistance, benches, trees and playground equipment and can be built around traditional military fitness regimes.


Add variation to your programme by introducing portable equipment such as ViPR, TRX, Nordic Walking Poles and baby buggies, to bigger equipment such as cycles. Diversify your programmes from cross training, sports specific to weight management programmes. Vary the terrain and move about your environment to keep the programme interesting and alive.


Janey Halliday director of Fit For A Princess, says:

“Outdoor workouts and boot-camps totally revolutionised my business. It meant I could work less hours, make more money and more importantly, my clients could workout more and pay a fraction of the price. In the recession my business has boomed as people swap expensive one to one PT and annual contracted gym memberships, with coming to us.”


So don’t get left behind in the gym, bring the gym outdoors, bring the outdoors into the gym! Join the revolution!


The ultimate in outdoor fitness instructor training – Group Xtra Outdoors (http://www.drummondeducation.com/become-a-fitness-instructor/groupxtra-outdoors/), taught by the leading international Leki Master Trainers and the founders of the CYQ Nordic Walking Certificate is available through Drummond Education (http://www.drummondeducation.com/) and includes the CYQ Certificates In Outdoor Fitness and Nordic & Fitness Walking.

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  • Anonymous

    I have noticed a lot more outdoor gyms in parks and although they don’t look as good as actual gym equipment I do think that exercising outdoors is much better for you. 

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    Here give a good post. The opening for you to make more money and grow your enterprise is, of course, key to your enterprise plan but with outdoor programmes you will also have more fun and diversify your fitness career.