I was a competitive bodybuilder, fitness professional and fitness/swimwear model who’d been in the gym since I was 17 years of age. So when we moved to an area of the country that had very little to offer in the way of fitness facilities I freaked out thinking that there would be no way that I could maintain the level of fitness that I had enjoyed for over 25 years.
I was unhappy (and surprised) when I realized how “gym-challenged” Little Rock, AR was. But I was simply tickled when I saw the amazing park system that was open to all the area residents. The Riverfront Park has a particularly unique design in that there are many, many sequential grassy hills. This got my brain thinking why couldn’t I just hike the hills and mix in push-ups and bench crunches for a total full-body, core-strengthening, cardiovascular workout? And so my latest weekly fitness routine was born.
Every Other Day
One hour hike in Riverfront Park with most of the time spent hiking the hills up and down. This is an amazing non-impact lower body strengthening and cardio conditioning workout on the way up the hills with a core-strengthening, stabilizing muscle strengthening workout on the way down. Every single step is specific and controlled to maintain proper form and avoid injury. Between hills I drop and do super-sets of triceps push-ups and bench crunches. I do sets of between 12 to 25 repetitions of each movement with a sum total of 100 repetitions of every movement during each workout. At the end of the most intense part of the workout (usually consisting of 30 to 45 minutes non-stop) where I hike the hills with super-sets of push-ups and bench crunches I may sprint up a hill or two depending on how strong I feel. I always cool down with a brisk walk towards either the Bill Clinton Memorial Bridge or the Junction Bridge (two of several bridges that connects Little Rock to Argenta ) where there are a few flights of stairs. If I still feel the need to challenge myself I finish with a walk towards the other end of the park where there are more stairs and paths through Vogel Schwartz Sculpture Garden and Medical Mile. By the time I’m ready to walk the 2 blocks home, I am pumped and pooped!
I am nearly 45 years old and never before did I have such a strong desire to get out and truly enjoy nature while staying fit. Because of the cardio-vascular stamina, core strength and lower body strength I’ve been able to enjoy from this simple training regimen in the park, I’ve been able to take my hiking to another level in Arkansas area national parks. Just last week I was able to complete a hike at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. The two trails, one very strenuous and other moderate (Base Trail and East Summit Trail) should have taken about 4 ½ hours to complete. I completed them in just under 3 hours. Instead of feeling sore for days (as I thought I would) I didn’t experience any muscle soreness. If you live in an area where you have access to such parks, get out and take advantage. Your heart and waist line will thank you and best of all, it won’t cost you a thing. It’s a win/win situation!