Over the last couple of years, many of us have had to find creative ways to recreate our usual training facilities at home.
If you're currently stuck indoors and are getting bored of living room workouts, it can be all too easy to let your fitness goals slide. Whether you were training for a marathon or you were gearing up for a PB in the weights room, it’s tough to get into a new routine and adapt to the challenges that working out at home can bring.
That’s why a garden is the perfect space to train in. If you’re lucky enough to have some green space at your disposal, taking your workouts outdoors can help you to reap the regular benefits of exercise (better sleep, lower risk of heart disease and stroke) as well as increase your intake of energy-boosting vitamin D, and it can even help to safeguard your mental health too. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research found that exercising outdoors in nature can have extra benefits for your mood, helping to soothe stress and boost self-esteem.
When it comes to investing in the right kit for your garden, space is a big consideration. If you’ve got plenty of room to play with, you can consider larger activity frames or static bikes that can be assembled and left outside for the duration of lockdown. If you’re working with a smaller terrace or patio area, or planning on visiting a local park, it’s better to opt for smaller, portable equipment that can be folded away and stored in a cupboard afterwards.
The type of equipment you buy will depend on your fitness goals too. If your aim is to lose weight, skipping ropes, spin bikes and punch bags are all great cardio tools for torching calories and burning fat. Equipment that utilises resistance meanwhile, like suspension trainers and weights, will help to build strength and increase muscle mass over time.
If you’re wondering where to get started, we’ve rounded up our pick of the best outdoor fitness equipment for seeing results at home. No gym? No problem.
TRX Move System
If you’re struggling to track down a pair of dumbells right now, the TRX is probably one of the best strength training alternatives you can find to a standard weights rack. The suspension-based exercise system uses gravity and your own bodyweight to make basic functional exercises like rows, planks and pushups more difficult. The kit comes with two lightweight, heavy-duty straps that are fitted with comfortable padded stirrups and a single point anchoring system that can either be looped around a tree branch or a pole, or attached to a hinged door frame. We were impressed by how easy it was to set-up, how secure we felt while applying our full weight to the stirrups and the variety of genuinely challenging exercises we could do with just one piece of kit (the system includes a link to download six different TRX workouts to get you started). Handily, there's also a mesh travel bag so you can bundle it up and store it away afterwards.
Metis Training Battle Ropes
A pair of professional-grade battle ropes are a great, low-impact addition to an at-home cardio circuit. This robust set is available in three sizes - 9m, 12m and 15m - and is made from a pleasingly indestructible Poly Dacron, which is one of the most durable materials you’ll find. A three-strand twisted braid pattern stops any fraying edges from forming and heat shrunk plastic handles provide excellent grip, even when your hands are clammy with sweat. These ropes are also 100% waterproof and easily coil up neatly after use.
Dope Rope 2.0
Ideal for all fitness levels, this retro skipping rope has a generous 5mm chord that’s been cleverly designed to have a slight weight to it for a slower, heavier rotation. The designers at Dope Rope say this helps beginners to get the necessary feedback they need to improve their skip stance over time. The handles are made from a low-density polyethylene material which have a nice grip to them and don’t slip and slide in the palm once you start to sweat. Other helpful touches include a stretch and kink-resistant PVC coating that stops the cord from getting tangled between uses.
H&S abdominal exercise roller
This wallet-friendly, portable ab-roller comes flat-packed in five parts that are really easy to assemble and take apart again afterwards. The ‘dual wheel’ construction feels easier for beginners to control than some of the similarly-priced single wheel rollers on the market, and the rolling movement is smooth enough to use on both carpet, hardwood and laminate floors. We also loved that this slider comes with a cushioned mat for keeping your knees protected during your workout and softly padded handles for a comfortable grip.
Umi balance trainer
Bosu trainers are a versatile piece of garden kit that can be utilised in balance, strength and plyometrics training, as well as stretching and rehabilitation cool down sessions. This product includes a bouncy half ball made from a puncture-proof PVC material that didn’t burst or sag under pressure, two detachable resistance bands for adding in curls and rows, two air pumps, two air plugs and a free workout guide. The ball comes in two different styles, smooth and ‘nubbed’ - which is designed to gently massage your back as you perform crunches and sit-ups.
If you’re keen to develop your calisthenics skills, a pair of outdoor parallette bars are a solid investment. Capable of holding up to 180kg, the Lebert EQualizer set are surprisingly strong for their convenient size and allow you to perform many of the same exercises as you would with a larger and more expensive outdoor dip station - like push-ups, v-sits and planches. They take a bit of time to screw together but feel safe and sturdy once assembled, and the grips on the bars and caps on the feet help to avoid any wobbles while you’re balancing in the air.
Gymform Ab Booster Plus
This seated outdoor machine is great for toning your midsection as it continuously engages all of the major muscle groups to deliver a full-body workout. It comes flatpacked but is simple to assemble with a standard screwdriver and has a cushioned seat that’s comfortable enough for longer sessions. The machine itself delivers a smooth, crunch action and feels much more premium than its price tag suggests. The ergonomic design means that it can be folded away after use and we liked its low-impact nature, which gives sore joints a much-needed rest from jumping workouts.
Known for their premium-feel kit at reasonable prices, Mirafit’s freestanding punchbag performs just as well as some of its pricier competitors. Although not made from real leather, the punchbag material is very durable and doesn’t mark or scuff from repeated use. An anti-slip base allows the bag to absorb hard punches without rebounding towards the user, and at 156cm, it’s large enough for those over 6 feet to use without feeling like they need to crouch in their boxing stance. Simply fill the base with sand or water and it’s ready for use.
This collapsible exercise bike has eight different resistance levels, making it suitable for both amateur cyclists and spin class regulars. We liked its sleek and modern design, and how quiet and easy it was to use, thanks to quick turn-dial settings and smooth mobility. A simple LCD screen also displays all your vital stats like calories, speed and distance. Although it’s foldable, at 14kg, this spin bike is a little on the heavy side, so moving it in and out of the garden might not be an option for everyone.
Escape Fitness Vector
If you’re missing the cable machine at the gym, the Vector is the next best thing you’ll find for the home. It’s a resistance tube that can be attached to a carabiner-friendly anchor, secure loop (such as a sturdy outdoor post) or a doorframe. With a weight equivalent pull of approximately 4.5 to over 45kg, you can build up your strength over time, and you simply need to turn the cap on the tube to cleverly increase or decrease the internal resistance. Additional attachments included in the kit allow you to strap it to your ankles, torso or thighs for a varied workout, and there are standard hold handles for upper body exercises like wood chops and chest flys too.
If money isn’t an issue, the TRX is a fantastic piece of kit that doesn’t take up too much space and can be installed pretty much anywhere in the garden or taken to a local park. Just two adjustable bands provide a comprehensive workout to every single muscle in your body with very little set-up time or hassle.
If you’re looking for something more budget-friendly, the H&S portable exercise roller is a great option for those that want a challenging workout at a smaller price point. We also enjoyed using the Ab Booster Plus for the high-intensity workout it delivered in a short space of time.