No Gym, No Problem: Training Outside the Box

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By Tony DeSantis

Trouble making it to the gym? Missed group power class? Forgot today was spin? It has happened to all of us. Trust me, if I had a dollar for all the things I’ve forgotten to set my timer for in life, I would be sipping on a cocktail in Tahiti where I’m sure clocks are irrelevant.

For some of us, when we miss an exercise class or have found ourselves without an adequate workout space, we tend to just give up the idea of working out. I am here to call you out on that! Just because your plan has fallen through does not mean you have to miss the session. Create your own gym, wherever you may be.

Think outside the box. Your house or office is full of things that can be used as equipment. All around us are items that can be used for a great workout. Utilize them, and trust me, you won’t ever miss out on another workout again.

Here are some things that you may have laying around that can be of great use in getting an awesome workout at home or at work.

Water Cooler Jugs

Don’t just throw them away! There is no better way to recycle these ridiculously giant bottles of water than to turn them into makeshift weights. Refill the bottles with water. Now remember, the more water you put in the heavier the jugs will be. So determine how heavy you want your lift to be and adjust appropriately. After filling, tape the top of the bottle closed with duct tape or tape that will not tear. Use the jugs to perform bent leg or single leg deadlifts, squats and farmer’s walks. You can also use them to perform lifts like one arm cleans, jerks and snatches. And let me tell you, the movement of the water forces you to work on core stabilization while lifting, which is so necessary in proper form and technique! So next time you are standing around the water cooler, spark up conversation about how you can use the giant jug to strengthen your quads. You may get some blank stares, but at least it better than talking about Bob bringing tuna for lunch again.

Steps/Stairs

Most buildings have these. Apartments and condos have them. And many homes have them. So if you do, there is no excuse (besides a physical limitation) that you cannot use them to get fit. Step training is a great way to build leg strength and core strength. And it is fantastic for your cardiovascular health. Whether you use them to run interval sprints up and down or use a single step to perform step-ups, you are certain to see a rise in your fitness level. If you want to be the MacGyver of fitness at your home or office, hold the water cooler jug while doing said step-ups. I’m sure you’ll impress someone with your exercise prowess. Or, possibly, piss off your boss just enough to splurge on creating a fitness room!

Towels

I’m not talking about paper towels, although you can totally use these, too. I am referring to a bath towel or beach towel. A towel is strong and sturdy, can be wrapped around something and has the ability to slide on smooth surfaces. Therefore, it can be of great use in an exercise sense. Wrap a long towel around a banister, pole or hang it from a pull up bar. Picture TRX style workouts but subbing the suspension straps for a beach towel. Hold both ends of the towel to perform standing body rows, a Y-fly or single leg squats. Change it up by laying the towel on a hard, smooth floor. Place your feet on the towel with your hands flat on the ground (like a plank) and slide your feet into your chest to work the core. Fitness can be so simple sometimes. Just make sure you don’t use mom’s good towels.

Buckets

One of the best ideas that I came across recently was in a beach obstacle race I ran this summer. There was an obstacle that involved filling a bucket with sand using your hands and carrying it through a sand trench. It was so much darn fun! Yes, I am a bit of a fitness nerd. I get gitty when I come across cool new ideas. Not only was it fun, it was super challenging! Check your basement or garage to see if you have any old buckets. Large painters buckets work the best. Fill the buckets with sand, dirt or even water. Perform exercises like sumo squats, lateral shoulder raises and shoulder shrugs. Throw in a long farmers walk and you have yourself a solid workout session. Just make sure you put some plastic down if you plan on using a dirt filled bucket during your living room workout.

Tires

These are now a staple of my workouts in and out of the gym. Truck tires have become a tool for most gyms and boxes. Yet, I am talking about normal car tires that you may have laying around as spares in your garage. I found myself one day unable to go to the gym, so I geared up for a run. I glanced at two spare car tires that I had saved. The thought popped in my head, “Hey, maybe I can lift with those?” I took them off the shelf and in essence changed my workout style forever. It was the dawning of a new fitness journey; one that involved using uncommon methods to gain common fitness goals. I used the tires to perform snatches, push ups, burpees with a lift, overhead carries, push presses….I can go on for days! Tires are a great asset to any fitness program. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

The purpose of this article is to show you that creativity spans many disciplines, including health and wellness. Getting fit does not always have to happen at the gym or box. It can happen anywhere and with anything. Next time you miss a session, don’t panic. Take a look in the garage, the cabinets or the closets. Look under the couch. You never know what you may find that will help you achieve the fitness goals you set forth that day. And hey, if you ever want to toss around a tire or two, give me a buzz.

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