My friend Jamie and I have, over the years, gone out to the high school fields to do the "parcourse." We went again on Sunday to help me prepare for the Tough Mudder, which is now less than a week away. Placed around the perimeter of the various lush playing fields (football, lacrosse, soccer, tennis) are a half dozen exercise "stations." A station consists of a few bars, or a platform, and a sign that tells you what exercise to do, (pull ups, situps, knee raises, vaults, etc.), and how many reps. Basically, you run (or sprint) between the stations, do the exercises, and move on. It's pretty tough, but feels good to be outside, running on grass...
Just now I looked up "parcourse," and discovered the father of this sort of "fitness trail" is Georges Hebert, a French soldier who discovered fitness while serving in WWI. Funny, I had always thought it was "Par Course" and the "par" came, as in golf, from the number of reps one is supposed to do. Actually, it's "parcourse" as in "parcourir" which roughly means "to run around" in French, and has nothing to do with reps. (It's also the root from which "parkour" comes, the amazing modern form of "free running," also was born in France.) Anyway, I'm suddenly a big fan of Hebert, who called his fitness system "La Methode Naturelle." Apparently Hebert was inspired by the amazingly fit people he saw living in remote rural areas in Africa and the Indies, and he wanted to devise a system that mimicked that kind of naturally healthy way of life. His motto was:
"Être fort pour être utile" or "Be strong, to be useful."
Wiki on Hebert