I have loved being active outdoors for the range of benefits and, after taking on the inaugural Thunderbolt Trail Race in Barrington Tops on Saturday, I am even more convinced.
The great thing about our region is there is no shortage of outdoor events.
The Thunderbolt race offered a 16-kilometre course or a more challenging 33km option and I can feel this event will grow quickly in the next few years.
There were limited numbers because it was the first year and there were long sections where we didn’t see anyone else and the serenity was amazing.
I am told the longer event was brutally challenging but well worth it to reach the peak of the mountain and take in panoramic views, so I am already planning to go back next year for that.
It was great to be out in the bush, connecting with nature and switching off from our busy, non-stop lives for a few hours, which is one of the appeals.
Whether they ran or walked, everyone I saw cross the finish line had a smile on their face.
But you don’t have to travel too far to get the benefits of outdoor exercise in the Hunter and I was heartened to hear a few of our local councils are investing in this through providing more equipment in parklands.
Queensland have aways done this well. I remember as a kid about three decades ago being amazed by all of the outdoor fitness equipment they had on offer in their parks.
Residents of Raymond Terrace have a new place to exercise outdoors with the opening of a fitness hub in Boomerang Park this month.
Port Stephens Council community and recreation coordinator Brock Lamont said the “fitness hub” was free to use and catered to all physical abilities.
“There's an elliptical trainer, a sit up bench, pull up bars, roman rings, a dexterity builder and a 25-metre running track, so there's definitely something for every fitness level,” he said.
“The equipment has also been designed with accessibility in mind … and is located right next to the play equipment, meaning parents can do their own exercise while still keeping an eye on their children playing.
“It also won't cost users a cent, making it a truly inclusive project. It's a great alternative for people who can't afford to work out at a gym, or who prefer to do their exercise in the sunshine.”
In Lake Macquarie, upgrades are on the way for Speers Point Park, where there are already some pieces of fitness equipment.
Lake Macquarie City Council is also working with Wangi Lions to instal exercise equipment along the shared pathway at Wangi.
In Newcastle, Islington Park has equipment and Lambton Park is part of an ongoing project to install exercise stations and I believe Bathers Way could get some in the not too distant future too.
For the cyclists out there, the Watagans will host Bicycle Network’s Gravel Grit on September 10 with varying terrains and distances on offer.
Winter Warmer Workout
With just over one week of spring left and the mornings getting lighter, it is the perfect time to get moving.
Circuits are a great way for a lot of people to get some activity into their day. You can modify them to your own specific needs by advancing or regressing the exercises. For example, instead of a push-up on your toes, use the wall.
Here is a 30-minute circuit. Go three times through. Work for 50 seconds then have a 10-second rest:
Squats, push-ups, mountain climbers (standing shuffles), step-ups with shoulder press, rows, skipping, punch and crunch, wall squat, glute bridge.
Upcoming fitness events
Walk With Us for World Suicide Prevention, September 8, Dixon Park: Lifeline Hunter Central Coast is holding a walk from Dixon Park to Merewether Baths and back in support of suicide prevention in the community. There will be a breakfast and yoga in the park to follow. Register at lifelinehunter.org.au.
Lake Macquarie Running Festival, August 27, Warners Bay: Sign up for a 21.1km or 10.5km challenge. There is also a 4km kids event. www.lakemacrunning.com.
Walk 4 Hope, September 16, Croudace Bay: A 4km walk raising funds and awareness for Huntington’s Disease. www.huntingtonsnsw.org.au.
Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. firstname.lastname@example.org.