Fitness Finds: From park to fitness playground

Chuck Kuan for WSN
Chuck Kuan for WSN

With daily New York temperatures now hovering near 60 degrees and park landscapes blossoming with green grass, spring fever has finally set in. Washington Square Park offers 10 acres of space to engage in a fun fitness routine that challenges the body, provides unlimited breaths of fresh air and forges a stronger bond between the body and the urban outdoors.

Venture to the park this week and try these five bodyweight strength-training moves. Begin with a slight jog to warm up the body, and complete each exercise three times with a minute or two of rest between each set. Wrap up with a few minutes of solid stretching.

 

Park bench balance crunch
Works: Abdominals, lower back and quadriceps
Sit on the edge of an open park bench with hands by your sides. To balance the body with your feet off the ground, tuck your knees toward your chest to engage the abdominals. Extend your legs out straight in front of you to maintain your balance. Contract your abdominals to bring your legs back toward your chest.

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Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Chuck Kuan for WSN

Shaded Chaturanga
Works: Chest, arms, abdominals and lower back
Spread a towel beneath your favorite tree in the park. Begin in a plank position. Lower slowly into a push-up, and hover over the ground with elbows aligned with your torso. Roll over your toes, press through your hands and lift your chest and chin toward the tree canopy. Return to the starting plank position.

Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Chuck Kuan for WSN

Park border box jump
Works: Quadriceps, hamstrings and calves
Find an open length of cement bench along the edge of the park. Stand in front of the raised ledge with feet hip-width apart. Powering through your legs, jump with feet together onto the raised ledge, sinking into a standard squat as you land smoothly. Return to a standing position on the ledge, and step back down onto the sidewalk.

Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Chuck Kuan for WSN

Fountain steps stationary lunge with a twist
Works: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and obliques
Place your right foot two steps higher than your left foot on a section of open steps at the central fountain. Drop your left knee toward the ground as you lower into a lunge position. As you lunge, rotate your shoulders to the right as far as you can with your hands on your hips. Return to the starting position.

Repeat 10 to 15 times, and then switch legs to complete the exercise on the other side.

Chuck Kuan for WSN

Burpee beneath the arch
Works: Quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, chest, shoulders, triceps and abdominals
Claim a space the size of a yoga mat beneath the Washington Square Arch. From a standing position, bring your hands down in front of your feet and raise your legs into a plank position. Complete one push-up, then jump your feet together back toward your hands. Return to a standing position and jump as high as you can toward the top of the arch.

Repeat 10 to 15 times.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 22 print edition. Alena Hall is a contributing columnist. Email her at [email protected]

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