I am excited. Those who know me will also know that I get excited a lot, and it’s usually to do with either snowboarding, surfing, a new guitar, TRX training, ice-cream, or most typically Pilates.
Today I am excited about my new project in Barcelona, Healthy Beach Barcelona. I have said many times that health must be holistic. You cannot just run, life weights, eat tomatoes or even only do Pilates. To be truly healthy, sure you can do all those things and more, but you also need spiritual and mental health. And we all know the psychological effects of feeling and looking good. Wellness is a word that is used a lot nowadays, and for me wellness encapsulates (a word that is not used enough nowadays) the holistic nature of health. So Healthy Beach Barcelona offers Pilates (naturally), fitness, nutrition, massage, meditation, NLP, Life Coaching and a range of beauty procedures.
So why am I excited about Healthy Beach Barcelona? It is because Pilates specifically and wellness generally has historically been the reserve and the domain of more mature people, but with Healthy Beach Barcelona I am introducing many concepts to a much younger audience. Starting here on the beach in Barcelona. Which brings my onto the purpose of my article, what are the benefits of exercising outside?
I grew up with Aerobics Oz Style on Sky Sports, which is certainly not a bad way to start the day. But there are other more serious benefits, and I think the most obvious is that the scenery and fresh air (assuming you are not exercising next to a major road) simply raise the spirits and are great for emotional well-being.
But my favourite place is the beach. Sand is constantly shifting and changing, demanding various muscles in the body to come into play that might not normally engage on a pavement or gym floor workout. For example when doing Pilates, sand is on different levels, and you have to adjust to that difference which brings a new element to exercise. It also removes the issue of the hard surface on your knees. When you kneel on your mat laid over the sand, your joints are cushioned.
Running in the sand is also kinder on the joints than running on pavement because there is less impact on the body. I am using my bodyFUNC© functional training system for Healthy Beach Barcelona, and running and movement through sand forces you to use a fuller range of motion as it requires the body to move through a full range of motion, which stretches your muscles more than running on the pavement. Studies suggest that it is possible to burn up to 1.6 times as many calories for that extra effort. Sand develops the arch strength in your foot, the calves and all the muscles below the knee, as well as the quads.
However, a word of warning, you need to work up to a sand run or workout because it might be very different to what you and your body are used to. Start by the shoreline where the sand is flat and it’s packed down. When you feel comfortable, you can mix up your run by moving into the softer sand for a minute, like doing an interval workout, and then moving back into the harder sand. Tread carefully and go at a slower pace than what you’re used to.
Barefoot is a popular today (I have previously written articles for Barefoot Running Magazine and I will write about that next week) as it is argued that it is good for building up muscles in the foot and creating a more natural gait, as opposed to shoes dictating the gait. Beach running is a great way to try the method out. When I train people on the beach, I build them up in their running shoes by the shoreline and then the softer sand and then go for a short run on the harder sand with no shoes on.
Obviously there are considerations to be aware of when training on the beach. Look out for debris, such as bottles and sticks, wear sun-block, don’t trend on people sunbathing or little Johnny’s sandcastle, and most important for me (see reasons why I get excited above) keep clear of ice-cream sellers.
By the way, for those who were wondering where my celebrity was today, my picture today is of actress Ileana D’Cruz, someone who regularly does Pilates and exercises outside. She credits Pilates with her health so that is how she earns her place in my blog today. Celebrity watchers can now relax. I nearly went a whole blog without a celebrity! It’s not possible….
Health and wellness are all about feeling good, and for me there is no better place to feel good than in the fresh air on a beach. If you haven’t tried it, then I recommend that you do. And next time you are in Barcelona, click on Healthy Beach Barcelona and pop along for a session, or contact me before you arrive and we can organise a beautiful retreat.
If life is a beach, then why not be a healthy beach?
Chris is an international Pilates presenter and educator based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the creator of Pilates EVO©, bodyFUNC©, and CEO of Pilates Rehab Limited and Sport Core Strength. He also organises Pilates Carnival and Fitness Carnival, conventions where all profits go to local children’s charities. For more information about Pilates with Chris in Barcelona, please click on Barcelona Bienestar. To learn more about Chris, please read Just who is Chris Hunt anyway?