FALL Into Fitness!

By: Danny Osias and Russell Graham

Fall is right around the corner!  After a long hot summer we look forward to more outdoor activities such as walks and hikes, biking, running, playing Pickleball, golf or tennis and even raking leaves. Let’s be prepared to handle the changes with enhanced and specific strength and cardio exercise to reduce the risk of injury. Functional strength training in the gym can transfer benefits over to any activity you will be doing in the fall season!

Here are some sample exercises you can do in the gym for each type of outdoor activity:


  • Incline Treadmill walks: Start by increasing the incline to about 8 or higher. Speed should be at 2 mph or higher. Start slow at 10 minutes in first week and then try to increase the time  by 5 minutes each week and/or the incline level by 1 or 2 %.
  • Step ups: Using one of the boxes in the gym, alternate stepping up and stepping down one foot at time until you get a rhythm going. Try to get 10 step ups on each foot before stopping for a total of 20 step ups. Try to get 2 sets done.
  • Goblet squats: Hold a dumbbell vertically in front of your chest while standing up straight. That’s starting position. When ready, squat down to where you challenge yourself, keeping the knees behind the toes, and weight in your heels. If new to squatting, you can use a bench behind you to sit on and then get back up. Keep the dumbbell close to your chest the whole time.


  • Body weight Squat: Feet should be between hip- and shoulder-width distance apart, with your toes slightly turned out (between 5 – 15 degrees). Your spine should be neutral, shoulders back and down, chest open and tall. Make sure you keep your heels down and planted throughout the entire move. You can clasp hands in front of chest for balance. Initiate the movement by sending the hips back as if you’re sitting back into an invisible chair. Bend knees to lower down as far as possible (again, keeping them behind the toes) with chest lifted in a controlled movement. Keep your lower back neutral. Press through heels to stand back up to the starting position. Repeat.
  • Forward Lunge: From a standing position, step your right foot 2 – 3 feet ahead of your left foot and stagger so your feet are not directly in front of one another. Engage your core and tuck your hips so that your low back is not arched and your pelvis is in line with your rib cage. Bend both knees up to 90 degrees.  Your hands can rest on your hips to help ensure your hips stay straight and don’t tip forward or back. At the bottom of your lunge, your right shin should be almost perpendicular to the floor, your right foot flat on the floor, and you should rest on your left toes (left heel elevated off the floor). Return to starting position. (If this is uncomfortable on your knees, try a BACK lunge instead.)


  • Plank: Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Step your feet back, one at a time. (For more stability, bring your feet wider than hip-distance apart, and bring them closer for more of a challenge. Maintain a straight line from the top of your head through your heels, gaze down just above your fingertips. Now, tighten your abs, quads, glutes, and hold. Think about digging through your heels, squeezing your quads, and keeping everything nice and tight. (If you feel your body shake, that’s a good sign you’re creating enough tension from head to toe.)  You can up the challenge with shoulder taps, knee drops, or small leg lifts.
  • Upright Bike Machine: To keep the endurance conditioning going using the upright bike in the gym is a great way to get cardio in if you can’t do it outside. Ride for as long as you normally would outdoors and have fun with it.  (We have several cardio options: elliptical, treadmill, rowers, hydrow-rower, hand bike, recumbent bike or the nu-step.)

Yard Work/Raking Leaves

  • Dumbbell Wood-chop: Standing in a shoulder-width stance, hold a dumbbell with both hands diagonally over and above one shoulder with your arms completely straight. Maintain a tight torso. This is your starting position. Rotate your torso while bringing the dumbbell down toward the opposite hip and past the thigh. Do not round your lower back. Reverse the movement back up to starting position.
  • Seated Torso rotation machine: Place your knees on the bottom pads and your chest against upper pads Rotate at the torso to your right and then back to starting position. After you have done the desired amount of repetitions adjust the machine and then rotate to the left.
  • Pilates classes are a terrific core strengthener and can help prepare your body for any multi-plane activities that require or would benefit from a strong core.


  • External Rotation with bands: Fasten an elastic band to a post at elbow height. Grab the band, step away and stand sideways to the band. Grab the band with your arm that is on the opposite side from the band’s attachment point. Keep your upper arm close to your side, and bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Rotate your upper arm externally (outwards) against the resistance of the band, as far as possible. Reverse the movement, and repeat for reps.
  • Lateral Lunges: Start the exercise by standing straight with feet at hip-width distance. Put your hands in front of your chest and take a lunge at your side with your left leg. Your toes should point in the same direction. Now, bend your knees, keep the hips back, and take a step outward. While doing this pose, you will feel as if you are sitting on a chair with just one side of your lower body. To release this pose, you will have to push off your left foot. You can do an alternating side lunge by switching between your legs. As a beginner, 10 reps of lateral lunges are enough for you on each side.

If you need any help performing these exercises or have any questions just ask one of our qualified trainers in the Connection Fitness Center! Remember, we have 40+ adult group fitness classes and 10 Pickleball slots weekly, and a free monthly Pickleball clinic available to Total Facility members too!