Workout Torture: Sand Dune Edition

Does working out on a sand dune sound horribly difficult? Guess what… IT IS! But I’m a guy always on the lookout for a new workout adventures, and this one certainly qualifies.

That’s me, in the dark blue shirt, trudging up a 100-foot sand dune. The dune is in Manhattan Beach, just south of Los Angeles, in an appropriately-named place called Sand Dune Park.

Even though southern California has a whole coastline filled with sandy beaches, Sand Dune Park isn’t near the water. It’s about a quarter-mile inland. And it’s not even real! This area used to be a dump until the ’60s, when the city buried the dump and turned it into a park with a dune.

You would never know it used to be a dump – it’s a very pretty park. And the dune is a magnet for exercise enthusiasts from across the city. There’s even a history of professional athletes (like Kobe Bryant) using it for their workouts!

It’s so popular that Manhattan Beach set up a reservation system. You can’t just show up and exercise there. You have to set up an account with the city and reserve it in advance, and they only allow so many people on it at one time. (Learn more about all this here.)

My friends Madeleine, Alberto and I all reserved time on the same morning, and together, we climbed that dune. Over and over again. Climbing a dune is HARD, because the sand gives way, and you slide backward, and you barely make any progress with each step. It’s an amazing cardio workout – and amazingly difficult. It felt great every time I got to the top!

I tried it with shoes on, and then just socks, and then barefoot, which was best, although the sand did get excruciating hot towards the end. (We went at 8am – when the park opened – so we could avoid the heat as much as possible.)

It was great having friends there. I probably worked harder because they were present than I would have if I had been by myself. Plus, Madeleine was a dune veteran who’s been coming here for decades, so she had some good stories and historical insight.

I climbed the dune six times in an hour. And I was exhausted. But the workout wasn’t done!

Next to the dune is a set of stairs that climb the same hill as the dune. There are 208 steps that zigzag up to the top. They only allow for one-hour reservations at the dune, but we wanted to keep going, so we did another hour on the stairs.

Stairs are difficult, but they were easy-peasy when compared to the dune. Nothing gives away under your feet, and these were in the shade. So we climbed them 10 times. That’s 2,080 steps up, and another 2,080 down! It took us a little longer than an hour – so the total workout clocked in at 2 hours, 20 minutes.

I had worn a new bandanna that day, and I didn’t wash it beforehand. By the end of the workout, it was soaked through and through, and the dye was running down my face! I told Madeleine that I was seeing red drops of sweat rolling off my nose, and that my bandanna must be bleeding, and she said “Oh, I thought you just had a rash!” You can always count on a good friend to tell it like it is!

There’s a small play area in the park as well, and we couldn’t resist a celebratory victory photo atop one final summit…

…the jungle gym!

Keep it up, David!


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2 Responses to Workout Torture: Sand Dune Edition

  1. G.M. Grena says:

    Looks like y’all had a great time! Here’s a link to PJ’s 2009 video showing a funny clip of him, Jeff, & 2 other elites visiting the Dune when it was closed.

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