Exercise Outdoors with These Energetic Fitness Instructors

By: Karen Dybis | September 9, 2020
Outdoor Gym

Photo Courtesy of Jabs Gym.

Metro Detroit’s gym owners and exercise experts have learned one thing over the past few months, and that is if you cannot bring people inside to your fitness studio, you certainly can set up a pretty rigorous routine outside.

Outdoor exercise classes have become the rage across Metro Detroit this summer, helping people of all fitness levels get in shape and boost their energy. Trainers looking to help their clients and stay fit themselves have gotten creative with taking what they know and creating classes in parking lots, nearby parks and anywhere else they can find open space. 

To attend, most of these classes require participants to sign up in advance as well as pay through an online site. Most of the classes have limited numbers allowed to attend, so signing up early is encouraged. Classes also tend to require people to wear masks up to the time that the class starts as well as when it is over. Participants also are asked to stay socially distant as the class is going. 

Rebecca Eltervoog VanBrienen, also known as “Bee” to her friends and clients, started teaching barre, Pilates, cardio and PiYo to people not only because she loved it but because she knew the power of positive thinking alongside exercise.

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“I am a classically trained pianist who found the love of movement in Pilates and barre 20 years ago. I find no greater joy than seeing a client feel stronger,” VanBrienen said. “Never underestimate the power of breath and movement to clear your mind and find serenity.”

At the start of the pandemic, VanBrienen set up a website with a members-only page that has an extensive catalogue of class videos with three new added each Monday. She also teaches outdoor classes in Grosse Pointe Park. She hopes to eventually move the classes inside her studio once the weather changes and restrictions lift. Private training is also available in any discipline, including TRX Pilates. 

Here are some other Metro Detroit fitness instructors and gyms that take working out to the Great Outdoors. 

Sam Bagnasco

Located in Wayne County, Bagnasco is a personal trainer who created a socially distance training group that combines strength and conditioning work. The group of six to eight people meet to get back into shape and tone up, Bagnasco said. Bagnasco and her partner Lisa Gonzalez also offer group and personal training as well as athlete programs.

“Our clients range in age from as young as 12, to 75 plus,” Bagnasco said. “A typical workout has a mix of mobility, strength, and conditioning. As COVID has progressed, we have had to evolve our business to keep everyone safe but also keep our clients healthy and working towards their goals.”

Jabs Gym

Owner and Detroit native Willie Fortune found a creative and safe way for people to have boxing class outdoors. He and his uncle designed an outside boxing class at his Birmingham-based Jabs Gym that accommodates 10 people or less while adhering to the six-feet social distancing rule. This is a great way to exercise, enjoy the beautiful weather, and be around people in a safe and effective way. Fortune, a professional boxer by the name of Fortune 500, with ten knockouts under his belt, and his uncle, who is a boxing trainer and handyman, built wooden boxing stands throughout the pandemic.

“This seemed to be the best way to keep everyone safe while making sure we all could utilize the wonder stress relief of boxing and fitness workouts,” Fortune said. “As a local Detroit business owner and a boxing fitness expert, this makes me happy to be able to be creative to help others, as well as to see my business push through this.”


West Bloomfield parks as well as the parking lot outside of her CelyFIT studios has become the workout location for all of Cely Maria Dias’s high-energy workouts. Dias and her troop offer everything from Zumba, Mixxedfit, Samba, Barre and more. Dias, who is originally from Brazil, is certified as an IFA Aerobic Instructor, personal trainer as well as an expert at group exercise and Zumba fitness. Her training specialties include weight loss, balance and stability, injury prevention, muscle toning and definition, endurance, and hypertrophy resistance training. 

Yoga at the Ford House

Edsel Ford likely would be smiling down as you work out with a yoga instructor at his historic estate, which he shared with his family. The Edsel and Eleanor Ford estate is located at the border of Grosse Pointe Shores and St. Clair Shores with an amazing view of Lake St. Clair. Participants work through an easy flow yoga session on the back terrace while the sounds of boats, birds and the water flow.