How to get creative with your fitness routine

By Justin Keane, October 2019 Issue.

Alright. You’re out

of country, out of pocket, out of your regular routine. There aren’t many

gyms in sight. 

Maybe you’ve gotten slammed with a new project at work that’s going to suck up

all of your free time for the next few months.

Or maybe, just maybe, you’re sick of what you’ve been doing. You don’t know if

you can handle another spin class, another lonely run, or whether you can push

through the drudgery of the same bodybuilding routine you’ve been doing every

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the last three years.

Sometimes we just need to switch it up. The good news is that necessity isn’t

just the mother of invention — sometimes she’s a real bad mother (shut your

mouth)! Getting creative with your workouts can result in some of the best

fitness you’ve had in years! 

So, if you’re looking to change things up, here are some ideas to get you

started. Think of these as lane dividers — we don’t want to prescribe

exact routines here, but simple principles to get your gears going.

You are Rocky versus Drago.  In Rocky IV, we were treated to

an absolutely mint compilation of primo Stallone training — Rocky in the snow,

Rocky in the cabin, Rocky capering around town in his Lambo … oh wait, that

last one was the sad part. Anyhow, one of the great visuals from Balboa’s

Bolshevik period was Rocky standing at the top of a snow-covered mountain,

screaming in triumph. Actually, that’s an audio as much as a video. It was

loud. He’s loud.

Point is: you could do a lot worse than to pick out some external obstacle

you’re looking to conquer. A mountain hike, a bike trail, a run through

some enchanted neighborhood. You get the idea.

This should be something you can do in parts, a few times each week, until you

are able to complete the whole. And you want to make it a movie: every

time you think of it, you’re the star. If it’s a hike, then practice nasal

breathing at home; if it’s a bike trail, watch some old Tour

videos. Immerse yourself in the idea of your completion. And make sure you

have some kind of awesome battle cry ready for when you win. Camera’s always

on, baby!

Time Won’t Give Me Time. Get out your phone. Turn on the stopwatch.

At the beginning of every minute, I want you to move yourself for 20

seconds. Do jumping jacks. Do some squats. Do pushups, sit-ups, flutter

kicks. Just move for 20 seconds. For the next 40 seconds breathe deeply

and think about what you’re going to do next minute. Repeat for about 15-20

minutes total. Do something different every minute.

You can do this in your living room. You can do this on your back

porch.  Find a space and make it

happen. When 20 seconds feels too easy, do 30 seconds. When 20 minutes

feels too easy, go to 25. And then to 30. 

We call these workouts EMOMs — Every Minute On the Minute. They’re a great

way to pack a right-sized batch of work into a relatively short amount of time,

and they’re perfect for bodyweight-style workouts. Make it happen and

don’t be shy about using Lord Google to find form check videos on the movements

you’re choosing.

Every day I Write The Book. Grab a nice big yellow legal pad (my

preference). Find a pen you love. This is how you’re going to write the

next chapter in your fitness biography.

Write the day and date at the top of a new sheet. Underline it. This is

the heading for the list you’re about to compile.

Underneath that heading, you’re going to write down everything you do that is

out of the ordinary physically. If you pick up a stone in your backyard

and move it to the other side of the yard, write that down. (That’s a good

start, by the way.) If you park at the back of the lot and walk three

minutes to the store entrance, write that down. (Keep doing that.)

You might decide to do a plank while your dinner heats up in the micro. Awesome.  Get it on the paper. You might decide to do

some arm circles in the shower because your shoulders feel tight. Dry

yourself off and write it down.

Here’s what’s going to happen: you’re going to magically find some tough

stuff to do.  You’re going to move more, you’re going to move differently,

and you’re going to end up competing with who you were yesterday. The cool

thing is that you’re accumulating fitness nicely here, and the piecemeal nature

of this endeavor mitigates against undue soreness and fatigue. By the end

of each day, you look up and boom! You’ve done a hell of a lot.

And what do you do then? You start over tomorrow. Every new day’s a chance

to be creative, have fun, and move well.

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