I don’t know if it’s just me, but I often have a hard time staying motivated enough to go to the gym. Maybe it’s because the UCF gym in particular is always crowded no matter what time I go, or the fact that everyone in there is intimidatingly fit, but I just can’t force myself to go to the gym. However I’ve recently learned that I am much more motivated to exercise if I take my workouts outside of the gym. “Outside?! In the unpredictable Florida weather?” It’s actually not that bad, given you don’t go out at midday or when it’s storming. I’ve picked out 3 tried-and-true locations and times for you to exercise that are close to the main campus.
1.) The UCF Arboretum trails after dawn, late afternoon to sunset
The UCF Arboretum, located at the far east side of campus and off Gemini Blvd East, is an awesome place to exercise because it opens up to several different nature trails and permits geocaching. These trails include the Cypress trail, Wildflower loop, Lake Claire loop, and more! There are interpretive signs placed along the way and you can definitely have a great time biking, taking a walk, running, or geocaching along these trails. If you go after dawn and/or before the sun sets, you’ll have one of the most peaceful, undisturbed workouts you could ever hope for, accompanied by the soothing sounds of nature all around you.
2.) Econ River Wilderness at mid morning, mid to late afternoon
This place is one of those hidden gems you have to dig around to find! The Econ River Wilderness, just 6 minutes northeast of UCF, is 240 acres of natural habitat and well-maintained and marked footpaths that offer many ideal places to do yoga, lift weights, and do cardio. If you want to take the full 3.2 miles of hiking trail, you can start at trailhead kiosk located at the entrance when you turn into Old Lockwood Road and follow the signs from there (avoid the side trails unless you know the area like the back of your hand). This is a great place to exercise as long as it’s not raining (if it is, don’t come because the trails can get flooded over!).
3.) Blanchard Park at early morning, late afternoon to early evening
You can find Blanchard Park just 10 minutes from UCF off Dean Road, a more modern option than the two listed above with a YMCA, tennis courts, playgrounds, grilles, restroom facilities, soccer grounds, a dog park, and concrete trails. If you want to do group exercises, this is the place to do it, as the concrete trails are quite large and there are pavilions for rent if you want to host a social event along with the workout! Just remember that the park can be host to many different events and groups at any given time, as it is a popular public space.
Now that you’ve got 3 excellent options to choose from, you don’t have to force yourself to go to the overcrowded UCF gym for your daily workout! Whether you go alone or grab a buddy (or a group), these 3 places are good alternatives to staying inside. I hope to see all of you out and about!