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City as Gym: Veer off Road

Trails and trees over treadmills and weights.

Alex Ho, personal trainer and endurance athelete, runs Andy Goldsworthy's Wood Line in the Presidio.

Where: Glen Canyon Park, Presidio, Golden Gate Park, the Dipsea Trail

1 Log Flips (Suffer Meter: 4, Beast Mode): Somewhat similar to the tire flipping that CrossFit popularized, this incorporates the same muscle groups (hamstrings, glutes, lower back, arms, core, and shoulders). The weight and size of the log depends on what you can safely handle, but choose one that’s challenging. Stow Lake area has a good variety of logs. Assume a four-point stance like you’re playing football. Flip the log end over end using explosive hip drive to get the log up to chest height, then drive it up and over by using your shoulders and pushing through your legs. Rest for a minute and repeat. —Annah Hayes, Bootcamp SF

2 Stump Dodging (Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): Anyone can go for a trail run, but to spice it up, dominate the natural environment with rogue workouts along the way: Dodge trees, catapult off logs, or find a stump and do box jumps, which require more balance on a stump than on concrete. Lands End is great for these exercises. To prevent injury, start simple, perfect the basics, and then get fancy: Use a tree for a handstand or handstand push-up. Being upside down gives you a different proprioceptor awareness. It’s all a little taboo, but it gives us freedom—the freedom to get dirty. —Peter Morales, owner, Ignite Dynamic Training

3 A Wooden Slackline (Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): Unlike on a treadmill, you can’t zone out on a trail. Natural obstacles and changing surfaces demand focus—your muscles are constantly readjusting to that rock or dip in the path. And when you go off-roading, the path back is never the same experience as the path out. Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line in the Presidio makes for a great natural balance beam. It’s a long zigzag line of horizontal trunks that you can run along, more fun than a flat balance beam and safer than a slackline. Watch out, though: The trunks are curved and inclined, so if you don’t have good core strength and focus, you’ll fall flat on your face. —Alex Ho, personal trainer

4 Monkey Moves (Suffer Meter: 2, Ass Kicker): Tree climbing is a good makeshift exercise when you tire of running the Presidio’s trails. It involves all of your senses and all planes of movement, and, unlike with a rigid pull-up bar, people don’t tend to have negative associations with trees—in fact, trees tap into playful childhood nostalgia, making you more willing to go out of your comfort zone. Find a sturdy branch that’s easy to grip. Start with a jump to grab the branch, pull your body weight up, pull your legs up and wrap them around the branch, then jump down. It’s like a mini–circuit workout. Seek out groves of eucalyptus in Sutro Forest—they’re great because they’re strong and smooth and they smell good, but be careful not to damage them. —Jenn Pattee, owner, Basic Training

5 Glute Balance(Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): You can usually find some sturdy, smooth logs in Golden Gate Park near the Stanyan Street entrance. Lie on your back on top of a fallen tree, with your knees bent and your feet balancing on the log. Tuck your shoulders beneath you, hands gripping the sides, and stabilize your core as you lift your hips into bridge. Engage your glutes to keep from falling off . Brace your abs and lift your right knee toward your chest. Hold for two counts, and then lower your right foot. Repeat with the other leg. That’s one rep. Do two or three sets of 5 to 10 reps. —Hayes

6 Rock Skipping (Suffer Meter: 1, Cakewalk): Use rocks as substitutes for cones to make your own agility circuit at Corona Heights Park. Jog from one to the next in any movement but straight forward— grapevine to one rock, side-shuffle to another. We’re used to forward locomotion, so lateral movements strengthen the hips and are great for injury prevention. Plus, picking which rocks to use makes you recognize order in a chaotic environment, which is good mental training for adventure racing. —Chris Esquivel, personal trainer

 

Veer off-road: Trails and trees over treadmills and weights (Exercises 1-6)
Take back the streets: That’s not a bike rack, it’s an ab machine (Exercises 7-12)
Stairways to hell: Gaining power is literally an uphill battle (Exercises 13-18)
Reclaim Recess: Playgrounds make the best obstacle courses (Exercises 19-24)
Kick up some sand: The beach as resistance band (Exercises 25-30)
Boot Camps Unlimited: All the trainers in one place

 

Originally published in the January 2014 issue of San Francisco

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