The Green Gym

I have a friend who refers to her backyard and beyond as 'The Green Gym'.

Ever since I first heard this term, I've been a convert. By seeing our own immediate outdoor space from a different angle, I've been given a different perspective on how I go about my work outside, growing food for my family. I frequently see harassed looking mothers racing around first thing in the morning, clad in skin hugging synthetics and barking at their kids to "get in the car" so they can get to the conventional gym in time for their 40 minute workout. I sometimes wonder to myself, would they be happier and just as fit if they spent an hour or so working in The Green Gym a few times a week instead? 

Never having been able to bring myself to join a 'regular' gym, I am not one to compare. Obviously they work for a vast number of people or there simply would not be so many of them around.

However please, indulge my daydream and hear me out on the benefits of a different kind of gym..

Why take up membership at The Green Gym? 
  1. It's FREE! No membership fees are required!
  2. Zero travel involved, if you happen to be working out in your own backyard.
  3. No one can see those lumps and bumps wobble and shake as you groove to the beat of your own rhythm, unless you want them too, that is. Working near the fence-line is fine if this is your thing, or be like Costa, and head out onto the verge. Skin hugging synthetics are completely optional. 
  4. You have more than the results on your body to show for it when you're done - harvesting food to replace calories lost? Sounds like a plan! (The body results are great too..toned torso, thighs and buttocks? Yes please! Put me down for another visit.  Muscular arms? Oh, yeah..)
  5. Stuff gets DONE! If you've just started food gardening, you may have noticed the 'to do' list for outside seems to constantly increase in size (a bizarre phenomenon, I know). By working out regularly in the green gym, stuff slowly but surely gets checked off that ever expanding list.
  6. Spouses or partners are welcome too, (for no additional fee!)..tandem workouts? I'm there. Plus there may just be a load of firewood chopped and stacked for you when your're done. ;)
  7. The green gym builds community. This past weekend we had an epic 5 hour working bee with our neighbour to remove some of his invading branches from our backyard and veggie garden. Apart from being able to see a funny blue thing high above again, it was a great way to catch up on his news and vice-versa. A cold beer and some nibbles at the end of the day didn't go astray, either. (Cold beers after such lengthy workouts are absolutely fine, in fact, sometimes even a necessity). 
  8. A little workout each day, or every other day will see you with a vegetable garden brimming with produce, you'll be saving yourself a trip to the supermarket in addition to the conventional gym, plus those membership fees. Did I mention those? 
  9. Eating all of that organically grown produce will fuel your next workout and just think of the food miles you'll be saving. Eat your heart out, supermarket chains!
  10. Do you really need a #10 to add to the list? Alright then.. let's see. Working out in the green gym and bringing home the produce will set a fine example for your life partner, growing young ones and/or extended family/friends/community. The kitchen table groaning under the meals made with said harvests will be like no other you've ever experienced. It really will bring the family together. Like glue.
#10a) There are sometimes even fuzzy creatures to boost your enthusiasm as you work. The promise of a prickly, whiskery nuzzle is often enough to send you forth once more, with renewed vigour for another round of weeding, stacking, pulling, planting, digging...whatever! 

So tell me, do you workout in a Green Gym? Do you have a 'training partner'? How often do you manage to get there? What's your favourite 'exercise'? ...and the big one - Would you consider swapping over from a conventional gym? 


  1. You know I have considered joining the gym in the past (several times in fact) but I never have for all those reasons you just mentioned above, I never knew it had a name though. The Green Gym is gold in my world too.

  2. I've always said the secret of my bottom is the weeding and the 80+yr old next door says the same. You do have to consciously pick a variety of jobs regularly though and remember to mix in some hedge shearing for the upper arms and pecs.

  3. Well I guess I'm a gym junkie! I've always thought it boring to exercise without achieving a real life purpose. Though I did do a gym stint after the last baby because I couldn't lift and gardening was out of the question for a few months! Maybe people have a Lycra fetish but feel silly wearing it in the garden?!!! I must say for an old chook, I have great biceps, abs etc. all due to gardening which exercises my body, soothes my mind and energies my soul! Great post Christine. Yet another reason to live a more connected life!

  4. I like your thinking. That said, I think I'd have to be intentional about doing vigorous gardening, as quite often my garden time can be very...well, slow.

  5. I love mowing, with a self-propelled push mower, not a ride on. I get to walk round and round in a pattern with earmuffs on for an hour or so, moderate amount of pushing, bit of strength and flexibility work emptying the bag into the ute every few minutes. It takes about half an hour to get all the buzzing vexations out of my head, and then I get into that creative mind space that nice ideas come from. And at the end of it I have a load of mulch for the garden and for compost making. Life is good if I get a couple of mowing sessions a week in. We don't have anywhere near enough lawn - I've had to take on curating a community reserve to get my fix!

    1. I'll go you one step better. My mower is a hand push reel model... not powered by anything but my breakfast! I actually find it much easier to push than either the gas or electric models.

    2. Mine is also a reel I can forego the earmuffs too. And I agree, it is much easier to push than the gas mower, and I think it is just as fast even if I do have to go over some of the grass twice.

  6. I'm with Linda, love mowing! I'm a cardiovascular mower (fast) whereas Hubby makes it more like a gentle but long workout (slow). I also love to dig new garden beds (and revitalise old with a good turn over) - no dig gardens are great, but I like to sweat and ponder the veg I'm going to grow :)

  7. I won't knock either - whatever gets the blood pumping to keep us healthy - everyone has their own style. I belong to the Green Microgym in Portland which is great (google it!) AND I garden a ton AND I explore my neighborhood on foot & bike commute. I need variety and I sometimes need the motivation that comes with working out among other people :)

  8. Yeah , I go to the green gym too...nice atmosphere, friendly people/ I mean goats and lots to do . It never gets boring .
    Loved this post sooooooooooooo much.

  9. Love this post. But my "green gym" extends far beyond the garden. I walk to the grocery store, bike to most appointments, get lots of exercise climbing ladders to work on the house etc, etc.

    I find it so ironic that we've created this world where everything is automated to "save time," so now people have to "make time" to exercise. Sorta hard to see what the "savings" was!

  10. And if you make your garden beds just a bit too deep to reach across you've instantly got some Pilates happening.........

  11. My standard answer to "Do you go to the gym" is always "No, I have a garden". I do most of it by myself, but this year I have found that my husband and children will ask if there is something they can help with. Moving the wheelbarrows of dirt around is the biggest workout, I find. And when I get too tired of one task, I just move onto something else that uses different muscles so that I don't get too exhausted (most of the time). I would never consider swapping out my garden for a "typical" gym workout...I, personally, would find it too boring.

  12. 3 years of vigorous gardening, mountain biking and hiking messed my back up that 18 months down the line I still go for weekly massage. I still walk 3-4 times a week and garden lightly daily but no heavy lifting or extended bending for me any longer.

  13. Hooray for the green gym! Sign me up please.
    I don't have a membership to the green gym, but do have one at the kido gym. Just playing with them like they do, is exhausting!

  14. I love that you don't get deafened with music or television when you are in the green gym. Do I sound like a nanna?

  15. for me. Not only does it include the green gym but also covers a whole host of other stuff like: pottering around the house doing the everyday stuff; hanging out laundry; running out of milk & having to walk to the end of the road to get some more; half way upstairs & forgot why you went upstairs in the first place- no worries, your body is giving you an excuse to try it again! Just being 'on the move' most of the time basically.

  16. Point 5 is the best reason of all, stuff gets done! :)

  17. I'm a green thumb member too, but mine is on the small side. TO make up for this I have two on-the-go kids one who likes nothing better than to be pushed around and around the back yard on her bike (those legs of hers need another couple centimetres before she will be able to get the pedals all the way around). I also pound the pavement a couple of times a week, this is actually specific exercise time, but I find running eases muscle tension, helps me sleep better and clears my mind to do all those other things. And better yet I spend the time checking out other gardens in the neighbourhood to get some ideas for mine.

  18. i totally agree with you christine..i worked in the garden for 5 hours yesterday as well as on friday..some of the work involved swinging an axe..having been unwell for several months i can't tell you how good i feel to finally back at the 'gym'..

    i don't think it's an age thing with me and the non green gyms..the music and the hype have never been my thing..peace and quiet in among the weeds is perfect reflection time and good for the soul too.. :)


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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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