Better Version of You column: How to use a park as your own personal gym |

Better Version of You column: How to use a park as your own personal gym

Jimmy Pritchard
Better Version of You

Most fitness enthusiasts know that maintaining health and wellness comes down to leading a particular lifestyle. These people adopt habits that lead to long term success and don’t burn out chasing short-term goals. Most importantly, they make time, instead of excuses for their personal fitness. Maintaining an active lifestyle doesn’t always require a gym. Many of the athletes I train require specialized equipment for their programs, and it is their job to prepare for their sport. For the rest of the general population, however, simply stepping outside and being creative can get the job done. Whether you’re too busy to get to the gym, always have the kids with you or are looking for an alternative, the options are abundant.


Recently I met with the Vail Daily’s own John LaConte and did a breakdown of some of the equipment that could be used for exercise at Nottingham Park in Avon. We came up with various exercises including using the see-saw as an eccentric trainer, monkey-bars for chin ups, railings for dips and core strengthening exercises and a standard park bench for plyometrics. The culmination of all of these exercises comprised a quick three-five set routine that LaConte has been performing while playing with his kids at the park. What we developed was a quick, easy and efficient way to help LaConte prepare for everyday snowboarding this winter as the host of the Vail Daily’s award winning “On the Hill” video segments. The workout isn’t quite as complete as you may receive at the Minturn Fitness Center, but for LaConte, it’s definitely getting the job done.


As much as I would like to take credit for the idea to use playground equipment for exercise, it is something that has been done for quite some time. One such example are the timeless workouts of Steve Maxwell, a famous strength and conditioning coach who travels the world and is best known his minimalistic lifestyle and coaching techniques. Often times, Maxwell will find a tree branch or monkey bar and perform various sets of chin ups or abdominal exercises. He is 64 years old and maintains better shape than many people in their mid-twenties.

Obviously, fitness routines are neither limited to the gym or playground, and if you are lucky enough to live in Colorado your options are endless. Incorporating various activities such as skiing, biking, hiking and climbing are all something we are accustomed too. I encourage you to get creative and think of different ways that you can challenge yourself. Remember, the simplest routine can be the most effective if done correctly and consistently. Thanks again for reading and as always, have a great week.

Jimmy Pritchard earned a bachelor of science degree from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the Assistant Strength Coach for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, and his passion is to help others meet, and often exceed their goals in all areas of fitness. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or

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