// Game on! Putting the fun in outdoor training

By incorporating fun and simple games into outdoor training programs you can increase client motivation and boost retention, says Geoff Bannister

The growth in popularity of fitness boot camps shows no signs of slowing. With Spring here, our beaches and parks are once again filled with sweaty devotees striving to obey the orders of their personal trainer overseers.

Clearly many people need strict discipline to be driven towards their goals, but this quasi militarisation of group fitness and the rise of the boot camp mentality doesn’t mean that clients cannot have fun while getting fit.

A return to fun-based activities has long been the emphasis within schools at the junior level. A significant amount of primary school sport is outsourced to program providers who understand that the easiest way to keep kids active is to make exercise fun. Gone are the repetitive skill building drills and competitive focus of yester-year.

Often equipped with little more than hoops, cones and bouncy balls, these providers adapt traditional target, invasion and net/court games to create high energy, fun activities that keep the kids motivated while burning energy. Award winning program creator Joe Waide has no doubt that fun and games are the way forward; ‘Our Core Camp® programs embrace fun, secondary skill fitness-based activities. People re-discover characteristics such as agility and balance. Our patterns are buddy-based and we’ve found the fun elements of the kids program actually get adults moving freely again.’

Waide’s Core Camp®4 Corporate experience has been successfully implemented with clients such as ANZ and Scwheppes. While teamwork has long been a key component of corporate training sessions, the motivational benefits of team membership can be overlooked when there is no formal league or ‘competition’. Picking teams to play in informal games of tunnel ball or dodge ball, however, still inspires people to work harder.

High energy games for outdoor training

Introduce any of these basic games to outdoor group training to keep motivation high and smiles wide; 

• Red Rover/ Bulldog
• Kickball
• Oztag
• Handball
• Tug of War
• Frisbee golf
• Dodgeball|
• French cricket
• Brandies (use a wet sponge ball on a hot day)
• Newcombe ball
• Beach or regular Volleyball
• Speedminton

Patrik Faatz, of Fitness2Last is an outdoor personal trainer and group instructor based on Sydney’s North Shore. He also believes fun is the key to maintaining any fitness program; ‘To get results as personal trainers, we need to push people beyond where they thought they could go. If they are mentally and physically engaged in an activity, the pain threshold can be broadened. When you’re laughing, you don’t notice the pain.’

With this in mind, Patrik has included the fast new racquet sport Speedminton to his group training sessions. Developed to create a badminton-type game for the outdoor setting, national tournaments are now held across Europe and the US. The new technology and format allow the game to be played anywhere, and fluorescent night-lights make the speedersglow in the dark, allowing it to be played any time.

The speeders (hi-tech redesigned shuttlecocks) fly up to 290km per hour and are not affected by the breeze. The game is played between two square courts 12.8 metres apart, with cones being used to mark the boundaries. This distance acts as the net, allowing for easy set up on any open surface. Players must land the speeder in their opponent’s square to score a point.

In Australia the game has been growing in schools, where whole classes can set up on the oval or quadrangle. Beginners quickly build racquet skills that lead to high energy rallies. Recreation camps and outdoor educators have also embraced the flexibility of Speedminton, with the equipment being light enough to easily carry in backpacks.

Increasing numbers of trainers are including Speedminton in their outdoor group training, with freestyle rallies providing a fun, high burn activity; ‘I mark a court at the side of my outdoor sessions and get clients to make a 20-hit rally between repetitions. It creates a new skill challenge, breaks up the grind and keeps them at a high aerobic level. Speedminton is also a great warm-up or warm-down exercise. A game with the glowing night-speeder is a perfect way to wind down evening sessions.’ says Faatz.

Innovations like Speedminton are a great way of mixing up training sessions, but even the most basic equipment combined with a sense of fun can increase the impact of any program. When clients are playing games, they push themselves further and cease to regard training as a chore. This in turn increases the likelihood of them continuing training with you and of spreading the word to friends. With rules like these, it’s game on!

Geoff Bannister
Geoff graduated from Canberra University in 1988 with a BA in Sports Administration. He established a wholesale/retail operation in Papua New Guinea, specialising in sports equipment, before relocating to Europe in 1995. For more information on Speedminton go to www.speedminton.com.au or phone 0433 476946