Shake It Up, Baby

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.*

18 thoughts on “Shake It Up, Baby

  1. That shake-weight-thing has been bothering me to no end! I can’t even watch the commercial, afraid my 13 year old son (who thinks about sex constantly) would come in the room!

    As far as exercising outdoors, besides farm-type chores, I do most of mine indoors. Exercyling and working with weights and just doing exercises. It’s a really long drive to a park (we’re out in the boonies) and we don’t have sidewalks out here. The closest gym is probably 45 minutes away, as is the nearest pool. For me, I have to stick with active farm chores (like mucking stalls and tossing hay and chasing chickens) and my exercycle.

    Glad you found an alternative. Vee at

  2. Your outdoor work out sounds great – I remember when they put those “par courses” in all over the place back in the 70’s for people to stop and do exercises when they were out running. What a great new addition to your schedule.

    I read somewhere that the inventor of that shake weight said that the “vulgarity” is all in our minds! I say that is where it usually is!

  3. If you can find a set of high school bleachers and run them ‘tour de stade’ style, that is a serious workout!!!

  4. I did something like that in a class on my spa trip in June. And it drizzled on us for the whole time! I wish I lived near you and could have you as my workout partner:)

  5. I so much prefer being outside. Funny, I need to go to the gym in about 20 minutes–can I get out of it? Probably not as it’s sunset now, but you’ve given me a good idea. SNL often gets things right.

  6. Oh, I saw that thing on SNL. So funny!

    I didn’t get the gym gene. I haul my own weight on my home dreadmill. Just renewed the warranty on it for another year at $130. That should get me a couple of new belts; maybe a new motor, too!

    Once, Sears sent out a repairman that looked like John Candy. He criticized my form, telling me that I walked on it incorrectly because there are scuff marks where my shoes hit the front thingie.

    Like I was going to take exercise tips from a John Candy look alike? I think not.

  7. Love your workout!!! How fun!!! You go Cammy! Shake it up but not with the shake weight. You know, Ellen spoofed that thing at last a year ago or more. I posted about it & then they got so much business that they made one from men & she spoofed it again & more money for them. Sh e ought to get royalties!!! It is becoming a subject of talk again.. but Ellen started the climb to fame way back when!!!

    I have a friend that does all kinds of stuff while her boys are playing their little league stuff. She lunges & takes bands with her & says she does not care what people think & wish women would join her. She works a long day so she gets some before work & then adds this after.

  8. I’ve been walking/running outside a lot lately, but it’s mainly b/c the weather has been so nice outside. When the extremes hit (hot and cold), I just have a hard time adapting to them, but I do like being outside otherwise. I don’t always take the time to get the strength training in, b/c I want to make sure I get cardio in, and it’s harder without the equipment outside.

  9. I’m glad it didn’t bother you if others saw you. You are a great example to them and us.

    The SNL clip was funny! I saw the Ellen D bit, too, that Jody mentioned. I still remember what Ellen said as she was shaking that thing, “I don’t know what I’m training for, but I hope it never happens.”

  10. love this as you know me
    lately the question would be DO YOU EVER DO TRADITIONAL INDOOR WORKOUTS.

    today it is rain puddle stomping.
    its great for the quads :)

  11. Often when I go for my Monday morning runs with Deb there is an elderly gentleman (yeah, even older than me), who obviously rides his bike along the track we run, then stops at this nice spot under a tree and is often seen there doing push-ups, burpees, lunges etc.

    I usually think, what a wonderful idea, I hope I’m doing something like that when I’m your age …. which is really not all that far away!

  12. Nice! My sister and I did something similar – we went to the gym on Labor Day for a zumba class, only to find that classes were cancelled for the holiday. It was too nice of a day to go on a treadmill, so instead we went for a leisurely bikeride for a little bit of cardio. Fresh air is lovely.

  13. You are so funny. You expressed so perfectly the inner dialogue of what you were going through. It’s too good. I’m glad you found your way.
    And I did see the SNL in question. They didn’t even have to spoof anything – the exact commercial is already there!
    I’m constantly reminding myself that I don’t have to get to the gym to workout. I have a 3 year old, so all I have to do is whatever she does! Alot of dancing around here… no time to be shy about it.

  14. It just really shows how committed you are to yourself! I love the workout you did!

  15. I can’t bring myself to workout indoors this time of year. I get creative and do card workouts sometimes in the park. Oh, and I saw that SNL spoof – funny!

  16. Your enthusiasm is highly contagious… yep, it is. And I’m sooooo glad you made the discovery about workouts in public in the park… that’s totally fab! Me? Well, reading yours and other blogs is stiring the juices a bit. Right now I walk 5-6 days/week, up (and down again) 500 feet or so. Also I do arm toning exercises with itty bitty weights. I don’t know where I’ll go from this point… as I shed the pounds all of it will get easier. In the meantime, keep on keepin’ on… You are a wonderful inspiration to me!

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