Spring back to fitness: 8 outdoor exercise classes
Easter weighing your hips? Don't sweat it - we've found eight kick-ass fresh air exercise classes in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, whatever your fitness level.
The unholy trinity of Easter choc indulgence, replacing joggers with jeans, and meals out, has got us yearning for some fitness. And with outdoor exercise classes now allowed (no indoor classes until at least May 17), we reckon its just the vitamin D and endorphin hit we need.
What do we love about classes as opposed to the treadmill? You can hand over the motivation to some uber-fit, bouncy, smiley instructor, and you’ll be sweating off the over-indulgence before you know it.
What are you waiting for? We’ve found some fab outdoor fitness classes in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire for every level of fitness. All you need to do is sign up, don your gym leggings (gulp…) and turn up. Go forth, Muddy gym bunnies, and burpee like you mean it…
In the park
Parkfit sessions at Stonor Park have started by again every Wednesday at 9.15am, with more classes being added as demand increases. The socially-distanced fitness classes take place in the deer park and gardens and are run by Texan dynamo, Cat Batson, a Level 3 PT and UK Athletics Coach. The aim is to improve cardiovascular health and strength with body weight exercises (and have a lot of fun in gorgeous surroundings). Classes cost £15 per session and need to be booked in advance, plus a questionnaire is required before your first session (bring your own mat). Parking is free and there are steam-cleaned toilets on site and a coffee vendor, for that pre or post class boost and natter with your workout buddies (well, five of them anyway).
At the rec
Smur-fit has a loyal following in Oxon and Bucks thanks to its fun classes geared for a variety of fitness levels. In Sarah’s own words, she is not a size 8, she doesn’t eat salads all day, and she doesn’t avoid social activities, but she’s a fabulously fun and energetic fitness instructor who has countless marathons to her name. The classes are at Watlington Recreation Ground and include kettlebells, circuits, bootcamp and even ‘senior circuits’. Book online, paying £6.50 for one class, up to £40 for a month unlimited.
On the farm
You won’t find a dumbbell at Fitness at The Farm near Abingdon – think more tyres, ropes, axes and mallets – all of the equipment is either natural or made from materials found on the farm. And it’s used with great imagination and fun. There are classes six days a week, from circuits with a bit of HIIT, to Box Fit for cardio and strength training, to vinyasa flow style yoga under the shelter of a tipi. Classes cost £30 for five or unlimited membership costs £50 per month.
At the open air gym
Peak Fitness in Thame is an outdoor gym with an epic range of fitness classes from HIIT to Muscle Factory to Fight Club and our favourite, Superwoman. The classes are outdoors but with a covered roof and artificial grass floor so you get fresh air, but without the mud and rain.
In city parks
If a gentle jog round the park is your bag, look away now. The cult fitness group that is BMF – Be Military Fit with Bear Grylls – is not your thing. The high energy classes include the original military workout, but there’s also now Crossrun (a dynamic run-based workout) and Active (which focuses on strength and posture). Local options include classes in Oxford, Henley and High Wycombe. The aim is cardio fitness and strength training with the balance of the two depending on the class you choose. A trial week costs £7 for unlimited access, then it’s £65 per month, with a discount for signing up for a year in advance.
At the track
Tilsley Park is gradually reintroducing its exercise classes after the hiatus, starting with kettlebells, circuits and HIIT on weekday evenings and Saturdays mornings. The classes are for all abilities and are available to members or as pay-as-you-go. They can be booked up to seven days ahead – so there’s really no getting out of it.
Stuart Lewington’s Immortal Fitness takes motivation up a level, with its high energy workouts and membership approach. The outdoor exercise activities are varied, from flipping enormous tractor tyres to passing weighted balls around a circle, and there’s plenty of team work and high jinx along the way. The membership package includes nutrition advice and diet plan, PT sessions and access to the group bootcamps for £99 for four weeks. Bootcamp sessions are held in Marlow, Peppard and Finchampstead three days a week at various times.
Online and offline
If you’re a bit of a fair weather fit bunny, Jen Skym’s Jeneration Fitness workouts might be just the ticket, with both online and Oxford-based outdoor classes on offer. She runs HIIT and Back to Fit classes on Wednesday mornings at Bury Knowle Park in Headington. And then there’s online classes on Tuesday morning and Friday evening. They cost £8 per class drop-in but if you want to be sure of a place and save money (and rule out last-minute shirking), you can book ahead online.