By Brooke Brown
While training in the Dominican Republic I discovered a hidden gem tucked away in the heart of Santo Domingo. Park El Mirador is where exercise enthusiasts and elite athletes alike go to get their sweat on. When the city wakes up, so does El Mirador Park. The scenic park traverses a stretch of 5 km with botanical greens lending shade and a breathtaking view of the city’s coastline from afar.
The charm of the park inspires all ages to come out as it offers a variety of activities from separate cycling and pedestrian paths to group classes such as free community Zumba classes or boot camp in the park. From as early as 5:30 AM to as late as 8:00 PM, you can find people making use of the free government subsidized outdoor gymnasium.
What’s even more impressive is the abundance of readily available, local and natural training supplements. The park boasts nature’s elixirs for health and energy such as fresh sugar cane and whole coconuts. Why use sports gels, when you can fuel up before or during your training session with chewable sugar cane, a healthy alternative to sweets sold curbside.
On occasion sugar cane has gotten a bad reputation. The perception that it is unhealthy couldn’t be further than the truth. In fact, sugar cane juice contains only fifteen percent total sugar, which is found in its rawest and unrefined form.
For the endurance athlete, not only is sugarcane easily absorbed to provide timely energy to support your workout, but it’s also loaded with nutrients. Some may even argue that sugarcane should be recognized as a superfruit because of its phytonutrient properties. The list of vitamin and minerals that it contains goes on and on to keep you healthy and provide performance enhancing effects.
Within minutes of finishing your workout, have the coconut-sellers crack off the top of one with and refresh and rehydrate with coconut water straight from the nut. Make sure to give your coconut a good shake first. By now, most have caught on to the hype in the media about coconut water, but nothing compares to the refreshingly sweet and nutty taste of fresh coconuts post workouts. Coconut water contains easily digested sugar to assist refueling tired muscles and electrolytes to replenish salts (potassium and sodium).
Similar to sugar cane and coconut water, there are plenty of other natural products that can give you a boost. Sometimes these are easier to find when in exotic and tropical countries, but nonetheless if you are creative, you will surprise yourself by finding some interesting and natural training treats.
El Mirador was a pleasant escape from the congested streets of Santo Domingo. Certainly, the natural training supplements had me intrigued and returning for more.