“I don’t really enjoy doing exercise in the gym,” admits personal trainer and hill runner James Waldie. “I sometimes find it quite intimidating and also quite stuffy and busy and just not a particularly nice environment to be in.”
The twenty-five-year-old is combining his running expertise with his personal training knowledge to bring the gym outdoors, in hopes of changing the idea of exercise being a chore to something enjoyable and sustainable.
“Some of the benefits of outdoor training are fresh air and a nicer environment. You get to use stuff that you may not be able to use in the gym if it’s busy. It’s a lot more flexible because I go to the client.”
James carries out sessions in parks and hills all around Edinburgh, with first-time runners as well as advanced-level athletes.
“It is a very different way of training, because obviously in the gym you have machines and bigger weights. The trouble is when you use a machine, it isolates a muscle, it works one particular muscle in one particular way and that is not helpful for real life, particularly when you’re running.
“So that is what we try to do outside, there are a lot more plyometric moves, a lot more working two muscles at the same time, that will also work together when you’re running.”
Being an outdoor personal trainer has lots of perks. The fresh air, flexible work schedule and, of course, seeing results from all the hard work.
“When I see one of my clients smash a 5k or something, I do get a little bit of a buzz from it. But even when they say they have enjoyed a session, that’s also quite nice as well.”
Competitive hill runner Jill Stephen has been training with James for a year with hopes to gain strength and prevent potential injury:
“I love it! It’s good fun. I didn’t know anything about this sort of training when I first started training with James. You get to use lots of bits of the outdoors as part of your workout…also lots of dogs come to talk to you.”
Beginning can often be the most difficult part of any fitness journey but setting realistic targets will keep the motivation up.
“If you’re wanting to start up then you should set yourself a goal that is fairly achievable and then do something that you enjoy,” said James. “Exercise doesn’t have to be something that you don’t want to do.
“Another good way to get into it is doing it with someone else, so either a personal trainer that you get on with, or a friend. It is far more fun that way. “
Find a nearby park and give it a go! There are no membership fees for this gym, and definitely no crowded boxy rooms with large muscular bodies and a lingering smell of sweat (unless you are into that sort of thing).
Here are 5 moves to get started that can be incorporated into any outdoor workout, recommended and demonstrated by James himself.