Ted McDonald's Fitness Tips



In the first installment of his new column for Malibu Magazine, 5 Point Yoga's Ted McDonald details all the ways Malibuites can utilize the city's natural beauty and resources to work out this summer.

Do you hate spending time inside the gym, especially when the beautiful sunny days of summer are upon us? Me too! That’s why if I’m not practicing yoga, I use the outdoors as my gym. If you live here in Malibu, your playground is Mother Nature’s artwork. In the Santa Monica Mountain Range, there are 570 miles of trails, 21 miles of beaches, and a vast ocean that beckons. That means there are no excuses not to get outside and get in the best shape of your life while enjoying our magical town. And, you get to train all year round thanks to our paradisiacal climate. 

1. Go Uphill

If there was one way I could choose to get fit, it would be going uphill. It doesn’t matter how you get there, but it does matter that you go. You can hike up, you can bike up, you can trail run up, but the more elevation you gain, the fitter you will be. I love to set elevation goals. How many feet will I climb this year, this month, this ride? Moving your body uphill will use your glutes, your calves, and your quads. If you move fast enough, you’ll get your cardiovascular system thumping, and yes, those beads of sweat will come dripping down your forehead. Believe me, your body and your mind will thank you. I say, out with the stair master and in with the hills! 

2. Play in the Sand

I’m sure you’ve heard of the latest and greatest trend in fitness, it’s High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT. It will get your heart racing and give you that feel good soreness you’re looking for. Do 20, 30, 100 reps of one exercise, then a short cool down. Think of it as interval training where you exert yourself at 80-95 percent effort for 30-60 seconds, then back to 60 percent effort for 30-60 seconds, and repeat. You can do a 20-minute workout, 10 minutes of high intensity and 10 minutes of moderate intensity. You can also break up a 30 minute walk on the beach into a HIIT workout as follows: 2 1/2 minutes of a warm up, 2 1/2 minutes of a cool down, and your 20 minutes in the middle can be 3 minutes of brisk walking then 1 minute of an easy walk, repeat 5 times and you’ve got yourself a hard workout. 

Afterward, I’m sure you will feel amazing. Science shows the benefits far outweigh the long slow jog. Increasing your heart rate strengthens your heart muscle, your cardiovascular system, and increases your VO2max, which is directly correlated to an increased life span. If you try it on the beach, the soft sand raises the stakes and makes it that much harder. If HIIT is not your cup of tea, take off your shoes and go for that dreaded soft sand run. You will go slower, but it will be challenging and your feet will thank you. And If the sun is out, your post workout dip in the ocean will be that much more rewarding. 

3. Get Wet

Summer is here, and that means you and everyone else is going to the beach. As a Malibu local you know how to beat the crowds. You show up early, stay late, and find those private nooks on the sand. No matter how you get there, use the beautiful blue ocean as your gym. Start out with some water safety. Ask a lifeguard how to read the currents, identify swells, and understand the waves. Our lifeguards are some of the best in the world. Then get out there, jump in the waves, body surf, play around, get thrown around, swim out, you’ll be amazed at what a workout you’ll have just being a kid again. 

If that’s not enough, grab a board. A boogie board, surfboard, and stand up paddle board will all get your body moving. A word of caution, if you’re newer, make sure you give the right of way to those more experienced. I recommend starting with smaller waves before your head out for a big swell. Take your time to learn. Even if the waves are small you can get a great workout just paddling around. 

If you’re  comfortable in the water, grab your goggles, head out beyond the waves, and start swimming. It’s one of the best workouts and to be out in the ocean is one of the most beautiful things Malibu has to offer. I’ve seen stingrays, sea lions, dolphins, and all colors of fish. We really do live in a little paradise.

There you have it! Hit the beach, play in the sand, and start climbing. You’ll never have a shortage of ways to get your body moving, spend some time in nature, and get in the greatest shape of your life all while enjoying the beauty that is Malibu.


ted atop montgo spain - dec 2015.JPG

As one of Malibu’s leading fitness and wellness experts, Ted McDonald spends his days teaching yoga at his own studio in Malibu, 5 Point Yoga, training for an upcoming Ironman and sharing his vast knowledge of how to lead a healthier lifestyle with people near and far through his blog, teddymcdonald.com. McDonald has been teaching yoga for over 10 years now, focusing on meditation and restorative yoga to strengthen and align the body. He trained in both Iyengar and Ashtanga styles of yoga. Now he uses his knowledge to not only teach yoga classes but also to create wellness retreats around the world. Through the combination of adventure and yoga, these retreats inspire everyone to be their best and healthiest selves.

Holly Bieler