Here is a workout that is both fun and free.  It won’t cost you a penny and you will smile more than you ever have on a bow-flex, solo-flex, or weight bench.  What is it?

Well first a few clues.  Almost anywhere you go in this great nation you probably won’t have to go to far to find this free gym.  It is open all day and only closes when the sun goes down- but it opens again at sunrise.

Have you guessed yet?  Well if you haven’t here is the answer…

The Local Park

Now before I show you the kind of exercises you can do at public parks all across America let me dispense some tips

  1. Arrive early. You want to beat the day care and summer camp crowd to the punch.  Get there at sunrise or soon after.
  2. Bring a Towel.  You’ll be sweating, so it will come in handy.
  3. Bring Water. Drinking fountain water is rarely tasty.
  4. Bring at least on of your children.  It makes for a great warm-up session.

Now before you get to working out take a half hour and PLAY.  Help your child up and down the slide, chase them around the park, help them chase butterflies, whatever makes them smile.

WARNING: It is advisable to bring your own child as other people usually don’t want you messing with theirs.

Now you can get down to business.


I like to start with some plyometric jump squats followed by push-ups.  All you need is a set of stair where you can place your feet.  This kind of push-up definitely makes you focus more on your shoulders and chest, and I think it is harder than a traditional push-up.


My wife caught me mid chin-up and cut my head off.  Okay, I admit it is creepy.  But you get the point.  Not only can you do chin-ups and pull-ups, and knee-ups, but you can use those bars to go back and forth- talk about a shoulder workout.  Try going back and forth three times without letting your feet touch the ground.  It will surprise you how hard that is.


If you’ve never done these before you will be surprised at the difficulty level.  I think they are called reverse rows.  You simply grasp the bar with your legs straight (heels on the ground) and pull your body up until your chest touches the bar.  This is an awesome exercise.


Here is an old standby, the chest dip.  It really makes those chest muscles work (along with the triceps).

Triceps hurting yet?  No?  Try this…

dips 2

This modified dip/press really pushes your triceps to the extreme.  It is a great way to end your workout.

And when your workout is over how about having some more fun?

Sasha on the slide

How could you not smile?

  1. missy says:

    Awesome ideas!!

    We love our metroparks here. We really use the trails a lot, for walking and biking. Honestly it never occurred to me to use the playground equipment to workout–maybe I’ll give it a whirl!! 🙂

  2. silverneurotic says:

    Looks like fun, too bad most of the parks around here aren’t that great…dirty and in bad neighborhoods.

  3. Alan says:

    Ah, I thought it was a “F”ree gym. I have to have a kid to join this gym – that is about a $15K/yr membership fee (not including first two years of expenses).

    LOL jk and it looks actually like a lot of fun and you gave me a 5:00A workout for Sat and Sun mornings. My gym does not open until 7 on the weekends and my day is already started by that time.

    Thank you for the workout I will let you know how I do tomorrow night (I am also jogging from 6:30 to 8:30, followed by a “few” hours of sleep).

    Now time to write that check for the kids summer camp…

    – Alan

  4. Alan, if you want to show up without a child I advise going early or people are liable to get some worried looks on their faces. Although you should be fine as long as you don’t bring a camera. 🙂

  5. Alan says:

    LOL now I can see why you bring the kids. Wife taking pictures…. (P.S. You have a wonderful little one there in that last picture. How do you ever get time between loving her to have any time for yourself?)

    I am going to head down to the park before kids are awake (5:00A/5:30A). Park is three doors down and the whole neighborhood knows I am on a mission to drop a hundred pounds and get in shape. Maybe I can motivate them to come out and join me on the weekends.

    At least I see a few walkers around in the morning when I am driving down the street to the gym so I will feel safe if I fall down and break something. (At least I do not see any head standing in the workout.)

    – Alan

  6. Very impressive!! I just began a serious diet program (medically supervised, with weekly classes, medical visits, and lab work) consisting of meal replacements (giving 125% of daily nutrients–don’t want you to think I’m being unhealthy!). I’ve lost 6 pounds so far–about 30 more to go. Your website is a real inspiration!

  7. Well thanks L&L. I am 36lbs into my journey. About 10 more to go.

  8. F + F workouts (Fun and Free)

    Total Transformation’s John Kaiser takes a look at one of my favourite workout locations – the local park. It’s definitely not just for kids….

  9. Scott says:

    Nice one John. Somehow I can’t see you stopping the workouts once you reach your original goal – you’re having too much of a good time 🙂

  10. Looks like fun! 🙂 Of course, there’s nothing to make you feel old like chasing little kids around a playground. 😉

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