3 Local Fitness Experts on their Favorite Outdoor Workout Spots

MEGA founder Alicia Belle, group fitness coach Jeff Lackey and yoga instructor Claudine Burns share how they are moving their bodies in the Triangle.
by Melissa Howsam

Social distance doesn’t have to mean sitting still indoors all day. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control are recommending physical activity outdoors right now. So—while your favorite yoga studios, cycling classes and fitness boutiques may be closed temporarily for coronavirus control— that doesn’t mean your workout is canceled. Here, some of our fave fitness experts share their go-to outdoor spots, and what they do when they’re outside of the studio. 

Alicia Belle, owner and founder of MEGA

Favorite Outdoor Workout Spot: Because it is nearby me, I have always loved Fred Fletcher Park.

Fave Factor: I take my pup with me every time, and she loves to run!

Workout Deets: The outdoor workouts that I do mimic how I normally work out, with a little twist. I take my yoga mat for some stretching and or a 20-minute Pilates mat session, which may include the hundred, rollups, some chest expansion work with swan, core work, side leg series for toning, and bridging for glute work and spinal articulation. Pilates makes you feel balanced and energizes you.

Bonus Op: Another easy to-go prop is my mini trampoline. I’ll do interval work mixed with planks, push-ups or core work. Laying on the top of the trampoline is sometimes nicer than on the ground. An interval might be 2 minutes on/1 minute off on the trampoline with high knees, jumping jacks, twists, single leg work for balance (like kneed pulls), kicks or oblique pulls.
Fave Factor: I love the mini trampoline, aka the Rebounder, because, unlike running, it is super-gentle on the joints. It’s sneaky fun cardio, full body toning and strengthens the entire core and pelvis floor.

Final Word: The best part of these mini workouts is the connection with nature and being outdoors. Getting a little sunshine and a little sweaty is never a bad thing either!

Jeff Lackey, group fitness and wellness coach, @jefflackeyfitness

Favorite Outdoor Workout Spot: Moore Square, I live downtown, so the proximity and the recent renovation makes it an ideal location to get a sweat.

Workout: I typically do HIIT (high-intensity interval training), tabata-style workouts.

Workout Deets: The tabata/HIIT-style workout is usually about 45 minutes and works the entire body. I’ll start with a 6-minute dynamic warm-up. I move directly to the meat of the workout, starting with the upper body for 60 seconds AMRAP (as many reps as possible), and move directly to a lower body movement for 60 seconds AMRAP, and then move to the core for 60 seconds AMRAP. I’ll do this for three rounds, same movements. After the third round, I’ll do a cardio-blast—think high knee sprints for 60 seconds to ramp heart into zone four or breathless. Immediately following this, I take a 60-second break, for a total of 11 minutes per block of work. This is done for 2 more blocks with different movements to build the lactic acid and muscular endurance throughout the entire body, with different body parts. The 3 blocks of work consist of a total of 33 minutes of effort, including the break/reset. All this work is followed by a 6-minute cool-down, for a total of 45 minutes.

Fave Factor: I love the location in the heart of downtown. The park with the open turf areas lends itself perfectly for an individual to find a space by yourself. Plus the views of the architecture surrounding the park really provide this amazing city vibe. I love this workout combination because it allows the mixture of a variety of movements, but not too many to overwhelm and require a vast amount of space. It also can be a workout that works the entire body with no equipment necessary—or at the very least some dumbbells.

Final Word: The best part of these mini workouts is the connection with nature and being outdoors. Getting a little sunshine and a little sweaty is never a bad thing either!

Claudine Burns, owner and founder of Indigo Hot Yoga

Favorite Outdoor Workout Spot: It’s my passion to soothe the mind, strengthen the body and cleanse the soul! My favorite place to be when I’m not teaching hot vinyasa flows is the gorgeous Umstead State Park in Raleigh for a hike.

Fave Factor: I love going with my husband, the kids and our two dogs as an escape for a breath of fresh air as we hike through the miles of spectacular terrain. It’s so beautiful—and you can look up at the trees and imagine how old they are. (And the dogs love the creeks)!

Inside Bonus Workout: Last year, my husband bought me this amazing Spin bike, and it’s my stay-at-home go-to workout. I love to do a 10-minute sprint, then jump off the bike and do a set of bicep/tricep/shoulder and back with weights and a set of abs; then repeat three times. It’s quick—and a workout that makes you feel powerful for the rest of the day.

Final Word: Be happy, be healthy, be strong!