There’s no getting away from it. Whilst the change of clocks (in the UK) means early morning training can greet the sunrise, for those training in the afternoons and evenings, darkness greets you by 4:30pm at the end of October. It doesn’t get any better until February and indoor gyms are even busier this time of year, which is why we went outside in the first place…
Muddy Plimsolls, as outdoor exercise experts, doesn’t stop working as the days get shorter and neither should you. Actually, we’re pretty busy. But training even in the semi-darkness has particular issues to address. We’ll try to answer a few in this post.
There’s something particularly dedicated to continuing training outside in the dark. So don’t be put off, and focus on getting as much as you can from your park fitness programme over the next few months. Remember, by February the sunset will be back to 5:30 and later.
Shine a light
A large part of a personal trainer’s job is to check the client’s form or technique when performing exercises. So even though the sun has gone down, we need some light to judge what the client is doing. A park location that has lighting throughout is ideal. Even a single streetlight is enough. Our trainers will cluster the more technically difficult exercises around a lit location so we can keep an eye on you. After this, a headlamp (favoured by runners) or flashlight works wonders.
Check out the location before sunset
We recommend that trainers are familiar with the locations they meet their clients in. That’s why we prefer locally-based fitness professionals who actually know the parks and open spaces. By visiting locations during the day, a trainer can scout out the best spots for night time training: areas covered by street lighting, areas with reliable, flat surfaces that contain no hidden potholes or obstacles.
Of course being in the company of a trainer, with music turned off, is a safe way to be out in the dark.
The temperature drop
Remember to layer up. Read our latest blog on the subject.
Reflective clothing is more popular today than it’s ever been and a number of manufacturers (especially running apparel) have produced ranges. To be seen by traffic and other park users is the fist intention. But reflective or day-glo hats and gloves are also useful should they drop to the ground: you can at least see them to pick them up.
There is also some brightly-coloured equipment like boxing pads and gloves or kettle bells that are easier to see in semi-light.
Embrace the darkness
Kinaesthetic awareness exercises (closing your eyes then touching your toe whilst standing on one foot) are interesting additions to a full-body outdoor workout. You just don’t need to close your eyes to do it during night training.
Adapt your workout programme to the circumstances
There’s an opportunity to change up your workout and focus on new challenges. If sprints through a park become impractical, switch to strength goals or flexibility, or balance, or plyometrics.
Mix and match your training schedule
Finally, you can always switch your evening fitness training to mornings or weekends or lunch times. Plus effective training can be done at home whether you have a garden or not. It can make a nice change and present new challenges in your workout.