Soon cold weather will be a thing of the past and an invariable slew of sun-drenched days will be here. Summer is just around the corner, which means frozen yogurt, water balloon fights with neighbors and lazy beach days.

Swimsuit season may normally cause a bit of apprehension, and perhaps the gym is too monotonous most days of the week. Who wouldn’t get tired of the same weight and cardio machines, girls staring you down while waiting for their turn on the elliptical and the magazines that have been in the Recreation Center for months?

This summer, take advantage of the beautiful San Luis Obispo outdoors and move those boring gym workouts into nature. It might be surprising how good of a workout can happen, while even providing a little fun.

Golfing, for instance, is a social sport and works your shoulders, back and chest. Walking miles for nine to 18 holes also provides a light cardio workout.

Nutrition junior Michelle Toussaint likes golf especially for those reasons.

“You use muscles you normally wouldn’t use, and if you play nine holes, you are walking, carrying your bag for over two hours,” she says.

Three golf courses in the San Luis Obispo area include Dairy Creek (municipal, 18-hole), Laguna Lake (municipal, 9-hole), and San Luis Obispo Country Club (private, 18-hole).

Business sophomore Jeremy Cleveland prefers Laguna Lake.

“It’s pretty cheap and there’s no dress code,” he says.

When it becomes unbearably hot outside, swimming is another great workout. The U.S. Water Fitness Association (USWFA) states that “swimming provides individuals with several physical, social and mental benefits including improved strength and flexibility, enhanced muscular stamina and balance, a strong heart and a better physique. It’s also a fast and effective remedy for healing muscles.”

Kinesiology junior Wesley Mcgeachy, a member of Cal Poly’s triathlon club team, praises the whole-body workout swimming offers.

“You don’t have to do a bunch of individual exercises,” he says. “It’s always whole body, so it’s quicker. And I really don’t like to be stuck inside on machines all day; I like doing stuff with my own body weight.”

Mechanical engineering senior Stephane Roussel, who’s taken part in the masters swimming program on campus, also preferred swimming.

“Where else can you get a full-body tan while working out?” he says.

If the water doesn’t sound appealing, biking may. It works the legs by shaping, toning and firming thighs and calf muscles, and puts less stress on the knees and ankles than running, according to the 24-Hour Fitness Web site.

A few great San Luis Obispo biking trails are Bluff Trail in Montaña de Oro State Park and the Berry Trail in Cambria, as well as riding on East Cuesta Grade along U.S. Highway 101. (On a clear day, the Oceano Dunes can be seen on this ride.)

Closer to home, Poly Canyon provides a scenic ride in its own right. Nutrition junior Ian Jordan says he likes it because “you can go fast and far and see a lot.” One of his favorite rides includes going south to Lopez Lake and coming back on Highway 227.

“It has a little of everything, from being flat to hill climbs,” he explains.

Rock climbing is another fun option, and is quickly catching on in popularity. It requires considerable upper body strength as well as flexibility and endurance.

“I love to climb,” animal science sophomore Christy Perisho says. “It’s a full-body workout. It’s a mental workout, too.”

There are two climbing centers in the area – Crux Climbing Center on Laurel Lane and SLO-OP CLIMBING on Suburban Road.

Of course, a sport with no set boundaries or locations is running, and the only real gear needed are shoes and exercise clothes.

Architectural engineering senior James Nunno, of the Cal Poly track and field team, says he especially enjoys outdoor interval and resistance running.

“It’s high intensity with low reps that get the heart rate up, and it builds explosive muscle,” he says.

According to, running not only improves cardiovascular health, but also coordination, while lowering blood pressure, helping arteries maintain elasticity and reducing the likeliness of eventual bone and muscle loss.

“You can go wherever you want for however far or long and people always seem to be impressed with it,” food science junior Sarah Henrich says.

Popular running trails can be found at Madonna Mountain or Bishop Peak, going up to the “P” on campus, Poly Canyon, Avila Beach (weaving through the golf course and vineyards) and Laguna Lake (which even has trails that go on the property of Madonna Inn).

Whether through swimming, walking, running, hiking, golfing, rock climbing or biking, San Luis Obispo offers a variety of opportunities to get in shape, all while escaping the repetitive, tedious nature of the gym.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *