After four full months of road-testing all different types of home workout programs — Barry's, Peloton yoga, AKT, and Pilates, just to name a few — I finally discovered what worked for me. I had established a schedule that was easy to stick with, created some sort of normalcy, relieved stress, and brought me joy. The only thing that was missing? The sunshine.
Given that I was spending more time inside than ever before, I was seriously craving that comforting feeling of sunshine warming up my shoulders or a light, warm breeze hitting my skin. In an effort to increase my outdoor time, I decided that the perfect solution would be to complete my home workouts outside.
Starting off my day in the great outdoors proved to be a game changer for my mood, but the change of terrain from living room to backyard threw me for a loop. That's to say, I wasn't totally prepared for how the environment would alter my workout. After some trial and error (and mosquito bites), I discovered some essential info for bringing your home workouts to your backyard, rooftop, driveway, patio, or neighborhood park.
A Large Water Bottle Is a Nonnegotiable
This goes without saying, but I'm going to say it anyway because we could all use the reminder: hydrating before, during, and after exercise is crucial to avoid illness, dehydration, headaches, and dizziness — and you should be drinking even more water in the summer.
The first time I took my 45-minute strength-training workout to my parents' backyard, I brought along a mini Swell bottle, and it wasn't nearly enough. No matter what type of exercise you're doing outside, be sure to be overprepared with a large water bottle. And if you're in the market for a new canteen, here's a shopping list to help you narrow down your search.
Bring a Mat — and Choose Your Surface Wisely
Another beginner's error: I didn't bring a mat for my first outdoor workout. I figured that, on the cushy grass, a towel would cut it. I was so wrong. I totally overestimated how soft the lawn was, and I didn't account for any dips or holes in the earth — it was very uncomfortable, especially for my lower back. If I was doing a HIIT workout where I needed to jump around, I also could have really injured myself on the uneven surface.
The next time I tried exercising outside, I brought along my lightweight yet supportive yoga mat and scouted out an even portion of the lawn that was also free of rocks.
Sunscreen and Bug Spray Are Essentials
Savasana isn't exactly calming when you're swatting away mosquitoes the entire time. When I tried yoga outside in the grass, I didn't prep with any bug spray and ended up finishing my session with a few itchy, red welts. This could have been avoided if I had prepped with the proper products.
I religiously apply SPF to my face, but I do have the bad habit of forgetting to apply it to my limbs when I go outside. Luckily, I only experienced a very minor burn on my shoulders. Now, I make sure to put sunscreen on all my exposed skin when embarking outside for a workout.
Wear the Right Fitness Gear
After finishing a short jog, I decided to top off my daily exercise routine with a short strength-training workout, so I grabbed my mat and headed out to the backyard. My running shoes do not offer the same stability as my lifting shoes, so I ended up stumbling around and losing balance. This could have been a recipe for a painful injury if I didn't catch myself. Trust me — take the extra few minutes and put on the proper gear.
It's also a great idea to dress in lightweight, breathable styles so you don't get overheated under the hot summer sun.