Holiday Fitness Circuit Tips: I Know What I Did This Summer

By Marina Aagaard, MFE

You should live in the present; not in the past or in the future. However, I do like looking at photos, a.o. holiday photos, that brings out happy memories from days of the past, e.g. of the summer holiday with my family.
Right now autumn, read rain and storm, is starting to show its moody face here in Denmark, so it is nice with some sunshine, if only online.

Plitvice Lakes Croatia photo Marina AagaardPhoto above: Summertime in the National Park Plitvice Lakes, Croatia.
Beautiful landscape. Extraordinary colours. 
A must-see for waterfall-lovers.

A little about the holiday and a lot about circuit fitness (ideas and comments):

When my sister and I were younger, our family of four did not travel or go abroad during holidays. But for the past five years each year we, now a small group of eight, have spent a week at varying holiday destinations in south-eastern Europe; there is plenty of sun, beaches (beautiful nature) and reasonable prices.

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My sister, a former-competitive-bodybuilder-turned-golfer-and marathoner, has two young teens, who are very active, so a resort catering for families, with seaside access, pools and all-inclusive sports, is required for summer holidays these years.
This year it was the Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar, Croatia. The resort had two areas; for those with campers and mobile homes … and those without, a.o. us; brand new spacey holiday flats (photo above).

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No holiday resort without an entertainment team. This team did some straaaange aerobics with isometric holds (photo above), but also some super aqua aerobics with jumping and dancing. Apart from lots of aerobics and dancing, there were numerous other team-led (or self-organized) land and water sports activities.

Fitness wise? The ‘fitness centre’ was a small room with a very limited array of older fitness apparatus. Just outside, however, you had the option of hiring a personal trainer and working out with suspension equpiment, kettlebells and weights.

I opted out on that and decided to go for fitness in the forrest …

The Fitness Circuit at Zaton Holiday Resort

A brilliant feature of the camp was the Trim Staza (fitness station) track in the forrest. The track was used for walking, power walking, jogging and running of campers of all ages, a really nice experience because of the medium-soft surface cushioning your every step and the shade of the trees; outdoor fitness at its best.

Fitness tip for holidays and travelling
A circuit program of approx. 20-30 min. 2-4 times a week is a great activity: You keep (get?) fit, maintain weight, stay healthy and well in minimal time.

The Zaton resort track was about 1,5-2 km (~ 1 mile) long (yes, forgot my Polar GPS!) and had 18 fitness stations evenly distributed for approximately every 100 metres (ensuring a manageable running-distance). 

Some stations were great, some were not so great, however, at every station you could do your own thing, if you wanted or needed an alternative.

Note: The stations, bright red, were easy to spot and had fairly clear illustrations. Only one had text on technique; at closer inspection it appeared, that all stations had at some stage had text, but it had come of. In most cases, though, you could figure out what to do. 

For fitness buffs, holiday fitness enthusiasts and exercisers in general here is a short rundown of the fitness stations for information, inspiration and motivation.

Outdoor Fitness Circuit Trim Staza Style

Ready, set, go (I did several times, because it was great fun):

Zaton outdoor bane

Station 1: Arm swings. A warm-up exercise. Upper-body limbering movement.

Performed with care, these are good for shoulder mobility. But avoid big ballistic arm swings. Too fast, too big … no good for people with shoulder problems.

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Station 2: Bend and extend. Warm-up exercise. Whole body (lower back) preparation.

Performed slowly and with control a good exercise for the back side.
Performed too fast without control: A lumbar back killer, be careful out there.

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Station 3: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

Ahhh, what is this? Something for the shoulders; o.k. in small doses for mobility, but do not go overboard in this; also it will not tone the arms and shoulders …

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Station 4: Upper body circles. Warm-up exercise. For the shoulders.

My interpretation of station as not 100 % clear from sign. Sidebends continuing in a circular motion and repeating the other way. Upper body (spine) mobilization.

If you have back problems, this is not recommended. Start with controlled small range of motion movements, e.g. easy sidebends with arms at sides.

IMG_6002 Station 5: Mill turns. Warm-up exercise. For the spine and shoulders.

A well-known gymnastics warm-up exercise, but it is very hard on the back. I avoid it myself and do not recommend it.
You lean forward, while carrying the weight of the head with a long lever (spine); then you twist, turn, in this bent-over position: There is considerable torque on your spinal discs/vertebrae.

Alternative: Stand upright and turn side to side with control, easy rotation for mobility.

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Station 6: Pull-up (or chin-up shown here). Great back and arm strength exercise.

Grip bar and perform with a wide grip (pull-up) or a narrow grip (chin-up). Both will work the upper back muscle latissimus dorsi and the front of arm muscles biceps brachii. The width of the grip determines how (much) you involve the active muscles.

This is a hard bodyweight exercise, almost impossible for beginners, so a modified exercise could be 1) with partner assistance; have someone help you on the up-phase or 2) jump up/pull yourself as high as possible and lower yourself down or step up on something and step off and lower yourself down.
You could also just hang there for grip strength.

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Station 7: Clean and press variation. A complex strength exercise for legs, lower back (back) and arms.

A great functional exercise. Picking up something from the ground and lifting it overhead. Many muscles at work. You bend down, use the legs, and extend legs and back lifting the (odd) object. The object lifted stays close to the body.
However on the sign it is difficult to see exact starting position; it look a bit like a straight leg movement, which requires extra attention and keeping the back straight. Not an exercise for people with lower back problems.

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Station 8: Jump over Slide under. Agility (and cardio) exercise.

Sign is not 100 % clear on what the exercise is. However, you can create your own fun and challenging exercises. The beam is on an incline allowing for different options.
At the lower end jumping over from side to side is possible.
Stay on the spot or travel forward with different running, hopping, crawling moves.

IMG_6049 Station 9: Suspended core work. Upper body strength, endurance and mobility.

From the sign it looks as if you are supposed to hang from the hands with feet supported and make circular movements with the hips. Tried it, it seemed strange, even though diverse movements are a good thing … 

Option: inverse (reverse) pull-ups. Upper back, front of arm strength  (incline; easier).

Hang from hands feet support. Body at a slight (harder) og steep (easier) incline. Pull yourself up by bending the arms and pulling them back. Lower with control.

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Station 10: Dynamic balance on beam (tree). Balancing exercise.

No illustration at all on this station, so it is up to your imagination. Walk, jog, hop, jump on the two different-sized wooden beams; hold, stick, keep the balance.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

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Station 11: Dynamic balance on tree stumps. Balancing exercise.

Illustration is somewhat hard to decipher, so it is up to your imagination. Walk or hop, maybe with a stick/hold, from stump to stump. Keep the balance.
For variety include moves to and from the ground.

Alternative: Step-up (buttock and leg exercise). Stay by one high stump: Step up and down with same leg (e.g. 8-16 times). Change leg and repeat.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

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Station 12: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward.
If it feels too hard, you can just sidestep over the beam.
For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

IMG_6150Station 13: Upper body exercise (of your choice).

Station illustration looks like the exercise muscle-up (first pull-up, then straight into the press position shown), however, this is not possible, as the beam is far too thick.
You have to find your own variation. Here (after a clumsy climb) I just do shoulder depression; hold the position with shoulders neutral/lowered.
Note: Station 13 was an ‘unlucky’ station; it was starting to disintegrate.

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Station 14: Arm circles. A warm-up exercise. Limbering movement for the shoulders.

A repeat of station 3. Circles with the arms (shoulders) again? This looks like a warm-up or mobility exercise (best performed at moderate pace). No real training effect or relevanse in circuit training like this.
I would perhaps do some circular push-ups instead.

If performing these shoulder circles, circle first one way, then the other way.

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Station 15: Push-ups (upper-body strength (endurance) exercise. Super exercise.

Here incline push-up, which is easier, than the regular push-up. Hands on beam, bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

Variation: Decline push-up with more shoulder focus. Feet on beam. Hands on ground. Bend and extend elbows (keeping body in a straight line).

IMG_6175Station 16: Squat jump (deep), forward and backward. Lower body power.

Illustration shows jump (arms pull back and forth for take-off, land with arms in front).
Variation: Instead of jumping forward and backward, you can just step backward and start again. Or do regular squat jumps up and down on the spot.

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Station 17: Side hopping/jumping. Agility exercise.

A repeat of station 12? Jump or hop sideways over the low beam, on the spot or travelling forward. For variety include moves to and from the ground. Or use the hands.

Agility type exercises are excellent for keeping functionally fit.

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Station 18: Pendulum swing. Aerobic exercise.

This station is cardiovascular training. Similar to when you run or walk from station to station. So is it necessary? Well, as running is a sagittal (forward/backward) plane movement, while this a frontal plane movement, it can be fine for variety.

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Even if I was not too keen on all the stations in this circuit, I think that outdoor circuit fitness in general – and also this particular set-up – is brilliant.

Circuit fitness is great for variety every once in a while.
Have a go, too.

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