A funny thing happened on the way to the gym the other day: I realized I really, really didn’t want to go.
It’s not that I didn’t want to exercise, but that I didn’t want to go to the gym to do it. The weather was picture perfect (about 20 degrees cooler than the week before), and the thought of going into the hot and sweaty gym…well, it made me a teensy bit resentful, to tell you the truth, and that surprised me.
It’s no secret that I have moved from couch potato to exercise enthusiast. I love the energy and sense of accomplishment I get from strength training and other forms of exercise. Even when I’m not able to do or lift as much as I’d like, I feel great from the simple act of trying. I <3 exercise! A LOT! So when I recognized my inner two-year old (from the pouty face in my rear view mirror) threatening to make an appearance, I knew that something had to change.
But what? I'd already made some adjustments recently in switching the order of my workout and swapping out super sets for single sets*, and I was enjoying the change. That told me my problem wasn't the thought of exercising, but the thought of being indoors to do it. I contemplated just blowing off the gym completely and going for a long walk instead. There would have been absolutely nothing wrong with that. But to be honest, I didn’t want to mess up the beautiful string of checkmarks> for strength training in my exercise log. (I’m weird that way, but I’ve learned to embrace it and use the
neurosis power for good.)
Enter Plan B, which said that it was okay to go to the park since it was Friday and I could still go to the gym on Saturday to meet my strength training requirement for the week. Maybe the break from routine would be enough to get me in the right frame of mind for the gym. And if I decided on Saturday that the gym still wasn’t going to happen, that would be fine as long as I still did an hour of another type of exercise. Deal? Deal!
And then another funny thing happened: Plan C, which I invented on the way to the park, when I remembered my own frequent advice to people who can’t or don’t want to go to the gym:
You don’t need a bunch of equipment to get a good strength training workout. The best equipment of all is your own body weight.
There really wasn’t a good reason I couldn’t get in a good workout at the park, especially since they have an exercise area with sit-up benches and balance beam that could be used for step-ups, a bar thingie that could be used for pull-ups, and about 20 acres for lunging, squatting, etc.
Well, okay, there was ONE good reason: I’d have to exercise out there where non-gym people could see me. People driving past in their cars would see me, for crying out loud!
Two word antidote: So what?
Besides the fact that it was none of their business what I was doing, I’d have on sunglasses and a hat, so they probably wouldn’t recognize me if I saw them later at the grocery store or post office.
And so I walked a mile, stopped to do some lunges, step-ups, push-ups, bench dips, plie squats, sit-ups, and reverse crunches/hip thrusts. Then I walked another mile and did another set. No one honked, none of the other walkers/runners stopped to point and laugh. Or maybe they did. I was so involved in my workout (just like in the gym) that I couldn’t tell you what anyone else was doing.
In other words, I did a strength training workout in the park and didn’t die. Not only that, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Mission accomplished!
And guess what? I had so much fun, I went to another park yesterday and did it again. I took a beach towel for padding on the wooden sit-up bench and my resistance band for doing some vertical rows and bicep curls. This time, I started with strength training (adding in pull-ups and plank-twists) and did three sets of my outdoor workout with a one-mile walk between each set. Woo-hoo! I may not go to the gym ever again! Or until November, whichever comes first.
So now I’m scouring the internet for more outdoor exercises. I know I’ll be adding in jump squats, but I’d like to find some other fun things to do, just to keep the shake up shaking.
Oh, and speaking of shake-ups, I’m proud to say that this ridiculous contraption never entered my mind as a possibility. (I thought I was the only one who saw something slightly vulgar in this thing, but the folks at Saturday Night Live spoofed it beautifully and hilariously.)
Do you ever do outdoor workouts? Got any great exercises to share? Think you might be willing to give it a try, now that you see I lived to enthusiastically tell about it?
*For the non-gym people, this means that instead of doing two or three exercises as a set, then repeating it a couple of times before moving on to another group of exercises, I did each exercise, rested a few seconds, repeated that a couple times, then moved on to the next exercise.*