Runners already know the secret. So do Sunday League Footballers. And Cyclists. Exercising outside is simply better.
Better for you mentally (all that extra daylight and fresh air), physically (the uneven, unpredictable surfaces, fighting the wind factor) and emotionally (battling the elements in search of fitness makes you stronger. It can also be invigorating to the very core. Just ask anyone who’s come in soaking after running out in the rain).
Well, Liberté Fitness is taking advantage of this secret, whilst adding the elements of fun and sociability.
I went along to Eaton Park in Norwich on a bright Saturday morning to experience this self-described ‘Fitness Revolution’.
Tom Bushell, an Advanced Personal Trainer was the session’s instructor. Immediately I was made to feel welcome.
The group came together (11 of us, including me and Tom – a pretty balanced mix of men and women, various ages, various sizes), and we walked over to one of the big grassy spaces in Eaton Park to warm up. It was here that the hard work – and the fun – began.
Initially I was nervous. 7 months post-natal and only just managing a weekly run, I was a bit unsure of how I’d cope with things. But I’d read that Liberté was suitable for all fitness levels, so…
The warm-up was pacey and certainly did what it said on the tin. Covering a lot more ground – literally – than you’d cover in a studio-based workout warm-up (even Zumba), it got the heart racing and the blood pumping quickly.
After this the session began proper and was comprised of various activities performed largely in some sort of group (from pairs upwards), that took us in a vast circle around the grass of the park until we ultimately returned to the start.
Along the way, we ‘played’ ‘Minefield’, which involved you diving onto the ground, jumping high in the air and rolling on the grass, depending on the commands that Tom called out. This was followed by timed shuttle-style activities in a pair and a follow-my-leader running style exercise (in which I almost managed to trip up my entire group as, instead of diving to the left to perform a press-up, I hit the deck right in front of the poor jogging souls!).
Every inch of the body is worked. But do not be mistaken into thinking this is a ‘boot camp’. Nor is it simply circuit training outside. It is far more imaginative, laid back and fun. Tom never once bellowed instructions, and the atmosphere was convivial throughout, with plenty of opportunity to chat to the other members. You can indeed work as hard as you feel you can, and no one will punish you for pulling up or sitting down (although the great thing about exercising as a group is that you’ll find you have more energy than you thought you did as the momentum of the group spurs you on).
At the very end, we played a team game that involved throwing a football. There were even bibs. You don’t get to call out ‘Over here!’ that much inside a fitness studio. I absolutely loved it.
Having been a member of gyms everywhere I’ve lived for the last 20 years, from the luxurious David Lloyds to the great value council-run gyms, I can honestly say that I think Liberté offers much more. I can imagine you’d get very, very fit if you went regularly, and not just on the outside. The simple element of being outdoors, plus the facility to talk to other people (rare in most gyms), enhances and optimises the experience massively. At one point on that lovely early autumn morning I took a moment to look around the park and couldn’t imagine a more beautiful setting to exercise in.
I think runners in particular, looking for an all-over workout to enhance their running, but also to tone and train the parts that running alone cannot reach would benefit in particular from Liberté. But it is, honestly, suitable for everyone.
The Liberté ‘Manifesto’ says that ‘We will reconnect with the great outdoors’ and ‘break free from the gym’. Viva la Fitness Revolution, I say. I’m already planning to go regularly.
Norwich – Eaton Park & Earlham Park.
Tel: 07815 934182.
Your first park session is FREE – book through the Liberté Fitness website now.