Dayton Live Well: Fitness

Moving workouts to the great outdoors is becoming increasingly popular.

Eric Spangler

The number of outdoor fitness classes offered by the Centerville-Washington Park District has “probably doubled” in the past few years, says Janet Holthaus, fitness and wellness coordinator for the district.

“Counting real quickly in our spring newsletter that just came out we have 15 or so programs that people can do fitness outside,” she says. The reason the park district is offering more outdoor fitness classes is that’s what residents want, says Holthaus.

The park district conducted a community needs assessment a few years ago, she says, and that revealed residents are looking for more fitness and wellness programs. “One of the trends in fitness has been moving fitness programs outdoors,” says Holthaus.

That’s because people want to move their workout outdoors to get the sunshine, the vitamin D and the emotional well being of being outdoors in nature, she says. “We find combining the two has been very successful,” says Holthaus.

Some of the outdoor fitness and wellness classes offered by the park district include Yoga in the Park at Grant Park’s Kennard Nature Nook, Couch to 5K and Trail Group at several of the park district’s 50 parks, Wake Up Workout at Grant Park, Hike For Your Health at several parks, Strollers in Motion and Strollers in Motion Boot Camp at several parks and several different tai chi classes at Grant Park, she says.

“Tai chi has been so popular,” says Holthaus. “We used to have just one all-level course but now we have three options. You can take a beginner level, you can take an intermediate level or you can still, during the week, take an all-level course.”

Another popular outdoor fitness class is Trail Trekking, a Nordic pole workout at various parks, she says. “That was popular during the day so in addition to adding new programs we’ve added a lot of evening programs and a lot of weekend programs trying to get something for working people that we haven’t been able to do before,” says Holthaus.

Two new programs that have been added this year include the total body workouts Tabata Training Camp at Yankee Park and HIIT the Park—a high intensity interval-training workout—at Oak Creek South Park, she says.

Another new program this year is Ruck Packing at Bill Yeck Park, which entails short bursts of exercise like squats and crawling drills while wearing a backpack filled with weights, says Holthaus.

More new programs are planned for this summer, she says. “We plan six months in advance so we’re already planning our summer programs now, but there’s more to come and look for exciting things in the future,” says Holthaus.

A list of all the outdoor fitness and wellness programs, costs, registration information and schedules can be found in the district’s newsletter at, she says.

The Centerville-Washington Park District operates eight community parks, nine nature parks and 33 neighborhood parks encompassing 1,000 acres in Centerville and Washington Township.

Other park districts in the Miami Valley also offer outdoor fitness and wellness programs, including Five Rivers MetroParks free Yoga in the Park and Zumba in the Park classes under the pavilion at RiverScape MetroPark.