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Planning Your First Outdoor Class

Warm weather is finally here!! Which in the fitness world and especially the yoga world means: outdoor classes!!! Everyone loves to find yet another reason to go outside and taking their indoor workout outside is a special treat. Not everyone is a runner or a bicyclist, so I really embrace my participants who want to go outside for a WERQ class or a yoga class.

In Iowa, our late springs are filled with sensational thunderstorms, however it puts a damper (no pun intended) on our outdoor activities. This week alone, I've had 3 outdoor classes canceled or taken inside (which drastically decreases attendance) due to storms. But we do love our thunderstorms out here; there's nothing like sitting on your front porch and looking at a spectacular lightening show.

I had intended to write about other things this week, but I try to keep my blog posts fresh with what is buzzing through my head at the given moment, and so outdoor classes just happens to be that today!

I take whatever opportunity I can to teach and participate in outdoor fitness classes. I admit, I do not get outside enough. Walking my daughter in her stroller is probably the most outdoor-sy I seem to get these days. But having the summer ahead of me with many plans to be part of outdoor classes, I have some tips to any of you that are planning your first outdoor class. (5 tips of course!) And I don't plan on lecturing you about checking the weather and advertising appropriately, I think that's something you already know. :)

5 Things to Consider When Planning Your First Outdoor Class

1. Make sure the area is safe.

Whether you are teaching in a grassy park or a pedestrian area of downtown, you need to think about the safety of yourself and your participants. Is the ground level? Are there rocks, branches that people could trip on? People playing frisbee golf? It seems a bit comical to think about a frisbee to the head while doing upward facing dog, but really, that could do some major damage! Not to mention flying baseballs or soccer balls. Be sure you are in a safe radius from potential risks. Better safe than sorry. Better safe than a lawsuit.

2. Make sure the area is well maintained.

This goes a bit with the above, but I wanted to mention a couple of key things to think about. If you are on grass, be sure it's a space of grass that is mowed regularly. Long grass under a yoga mat is obnoxious. I'm just gonna say it. It makes the outdoor yoga less fun. And on top of mowed grass.... poop has got to be scooped. I have extra plastic bags that I carry around with me in parks if I'm teaching that I use to clean up dog poop so my participants don't step in it while WERQin it out, let alone get close to it when on the mat in yoga!!! Scope the area before your participants arrive!!

3. Have your equipment outdoor ready!

Do not plan for access to power. Even if someone promises you access to power or wifi outside, just assume that it could stop working and have a backup plan. Make sure your phone, tablet, whatever is fully charged. Have your music lists downloaded for offline access and a chargeable, portable bluetooth player is super handy. I personally get really annoyed when technical difficulties are preventing a class from starting. Have a quick, easy way to get your technology working when on site. It will speak to your professionalism as well.

And for my WERQforce friends: no mirrors outside!! You'll need an elevated platform/stage and you'll have to dance on the left! You want your WERQaholics to see you and follow on the right!!!

4. Protect from the sun

Though you would hope participants in your class would think ahead about protecting themselves from the sun's UV rays, it's not an assumption you should make. I am guilty of going to a summer yoga practice where I got pretty fried from sunburn. My poor husband too. If you are holding the class in a park or a grassy area, see if you can get under some shade, especially for a yoga class. Lying on the back and looking up into the sun is quite uncomfortable. On top of shade, it would be a considerate gesture to bring sunscreen with you and offer it to participants who forgot theirs. Everyone loves a thoughtful instructor that's looking out for them. Just buy a big Costco type bottle of 30+ SPF sunscreen to carry around with you for the season.

5. Make the class accessible to all levels of fitness

It is quite clear from my experience that outdoor classes bring in more individuals from a wide variety of fitness levels than your regulars at your gym or studio class. Be sure that you offer plenty of modifications and prepare your playlist or sequence for a more average activity output. Not saying you can't offer advanced modifications, but do not prepare the class solely with your advanced students in mind. Outdoor classes are also a good way to introduce yourself and your class to new participants, so you want to make yourself marketable to them in hopes that they become one of your regulars!

Any other ideas or comments? Write them below! Enjoy your warm weather and outdoor activities!



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