How to - Gardening Resources

Turn your landscape into a fitness garden

Natalie DiScala
Photography by
Bob Dunlop

Shawn Gallaugher explains his "Otium" garden concept and provides tips for creating your own When you work with a client to incorporate fitness elements into their garden, where do you begin?

SG: We begin with a meeting to discuss their needs, followed by a tour of their property to see all the potential of an Otium garden. The vision comes to life with the production of a landscape concept plan along with sketches that shows how the landscape design can be multi-functional and used for outdoor exercise. As a design detail, I not only include the design of landscape features, but also a custom exercise program for the client that can be applied outdoors in their garden. In the presentation of the landscape plan, we also go through the exercise circuit so all the exercises are demonstrated. How can someone incorporate your ideas into their own garden?

SG: Think about how you would exercise in your garden and the space requirements for exercises that you would like to perform. When looking at the garden as an outdoor gym, imagine how you can use various landscape features to support your exercises. Look back to the muscles you are conditioning when you are using exercise equipment or how your body is moving when performing exercise classes and think about how you can condition or move your body in similar ways but outdoors. Keep the exercise garden both fun and challenging so that you are continually inspired. Incorporate gardening into your exercise routine because that is great exercise, as well.

5 dos and don'ts for designing a fitness garden
Shawn offers up these helpful hints for designing a fitness garden that you and your family (and even guests!) can enjoy:

1. Include circuits for beginner, intermediate and advanced fitness levels so people of every level can participate

2. Don’t limit your exercise to one area. Use your entire yard and possibly incorporate local trails and parks as a part of your exercise route.

3. Make new uses out of patios, steep grades, paths, walls, steps and benches to support all kinds of exercises that can be performed with them.

4. Think about the character of areas of your garden and what features or conditions are best suited to different exercises

5. Incorporate smaller spaces and inspiring views for stretching, cool down and relaxation after exercising.

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