Sweat Meets Style in the Otium Outdoor Exercise Garden

Why trundle off to a gym when you can work out in your custom-designed open-air garden?


Photo Courtesy Of Kim McKenzie


The innovative Otium Outdoor Exercise Garden, by Shawn Gallaugher Design, combines the elements of a beautiful green space with clever nooks and features that are strategically designed for a range of exercises.

“The Otium concept combines a form of boot-camp style exercises in an outdoor landscape to strengthen one’s health, well-being and connection to nature,” says Shawn, who works on projects in Muskoka and Toronto. “It’s not only great for your muscles, it renews your mental health.”

The organization of space and use of materials and natural landscape features allows for a diverse range of warm-up, cardio, power-training and cool-down areas. Steps, stepping stones, and retaining walls are used for cardio exercises, such as running and jumping; an arbor and its attachments can double as a power training area; and a relaxing water feature is perfect spot for stretching, meditation, yoga and cooling down.


Photo Courtesy Of Kim McKenzie


Curious about the name? Shawn says he was inspired by eighteenth century Italian villas, which would often have an otium, or a landscape pavilion meant for exercise and philosophical discussion. The Latin word is also associated with leisure. 

The Otium Outdoor Exercise Garden can accommodate beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts – all without ever having to leave home. Shawn’s health-conscious clients, some of whom are professional athletes, report greater enjoyment from outdoor exercising and meditation than they previously derived from an indoor gym.


Photo Courtesy Of Kim McKenzie


While it’s ideal to have a property with various levels and open space, an Otium Outdoor Exercise Garden will fit just about anywhere, as these photos illustrate. The owners of this urban home made use of a small courtyard space at the back of their house, and the courtyard garden enables customized workouts that are combined with their favourite sport, cycling.


Want to learn more? Contact Shawn Gallaugher Design --> shawn@sgdesign.ca.


Written by Lynne Olver, Student of the Landscape Design Program, Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario

Posted In: Ontario

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