Fitness trails, also known as trim trails or parcourses, are trails that integrate outdoor exercise equipment or obstacles.
Fitness trails have been described as playgrounds for adults and on top of that, are designed to make it both more affordable and more enjoyable for participants to stay in shape. Fitness trails provide the same benefits of a more traditional exercise gym with the added bonus of enjoying nature while working out.
The History of Fitness Trails
Unbeknownst to many, the concept of fitness trails has been in existence since the early 20th century. In 1902, a man by the name of Georges Hérbet was inspired by an erupting volcano and his efforts in saving hundreds of lives. He was in excellent physical condition because he was a French naval officer at the time. Had Hérbet not been in such impressive physical shape, he would perhaps not have been physically capable of saving those lives. The benefits that came with his physical aptitude in that situation encouraged Hérbet to spread the word about the tangible value of combining physical education and an active lifestyle. Hérbet went on to develop la méthode naturelle, later Anglicized as The Natural Method.
The Natural Method
The ideas behind Hérbet’s Natural Method may seem like obvious principles to today’s fitness enthusiasts, but the Natural Method was truly groundbreaking during the time of its conceptualization. The basic principle behind The Natural Method is that individuals are only able to gain virile qualities is by participating in challenging exercises that require the use of said virile qualities. For example, the only way a person can improve their swimming abilities is to challenge themselves while swimming. The introduction of parcourses allowed individuals to pursue Hérbet’s Natural Method in the form of exercise trails or obstacle courses.
A Variety of Options
Some fitness trails are entirely natural while others are man-made, many are a combination of both. Most modern day fitness trails consist of 10 or so stations which are each designed to help individuals focus on different facets of physical fitness. The specifics of each fitness trail depend on the location of the trail, the terrain, inclusion of natural features, trail surface, and countless other variables. Popular locations for fitness trails include parks, wooded areas, forests, and transportation right-of-ways. Stations typically include some form of simple directions detailing the proper ways to use equipment or obstacles. Some commonly found equipment includes sit-up and chin-up bars, parallel bars, pole climbs, ladder walks, and balance beams.
Benefits of Fitness Trails
Fitness trails have successfully spread in popularity for many reasons. Fitness trails are appropriate for both adults and kids, providing a fun way to stay active for everyone. There is no cost associated with exercising on a fitness trail other than traveling to and from the location, so it is more cost-effective than a traditional gym membership. Even the most seasoned athletes benefit from the experience of a fitness trail because of the variety and muscle confusion provided. The more active an individual gets, the more that individual’s body gets used to one routine. Fitness trails solve that problem entirely by adding variety that will mix up any workout routine.