Fitness Motivation and Methods

A snowshoe track through Colorado snow.
I can snowshoe on the same trails that I run on.

Motivation is a tricky thing and fitness motivation specifically so. Society always exerts pressure, to have a certain shape or to be able to wear a certain thing, but some motivations are from within. When I am playing a sport, there is motivation to do well in said sport (and not get injured in the process). When I am experiencing health issues, there is motivation to make them end. Sometimes it’s as simple as wanting to just feel generally better.

I don’t have kids, just lots of projects and work and, until recently, a super long commute. That combined with the fact that my house is in a rural area means that I’ve had to get creative with my workout schedule. There is a county rec center with a gym, but it doesn’t have real gym hours (it doesn’t open until 8 AM…), so it’s not an option most of the time.

I’m fortunate to have an acre of land around my house, so I’ve taken to working out in my yard with some affordable and sometimes homemade equipment. I’ve setup mini obstacle courses, jumped rope, done shoulder presses with some bricks behind my shed (came with the property!) and made something called a “Champion Block” out of a cinder block (also came with the property!).

If you don’t want to watch the video in that link, just wrap a cinder block with duct tape. That’s a “Champion Block.” I mostly do front squats with it, by holding it to my chest. It weighs about 36#.

Water bottle, snack, jump rope, bricks, and a cinder block wrapped in duct tape
Some cheap or homemade fitness equipment. Just wrap a cinder block with duct tape!

There’s also forest service land behind my neighborhood where I can run, albeit very slowly at this point, given my erratic schedule and the fact that my home is at 9000 feet above sea level. It looks like Skyrim back there, but I’ve spotted no errant wolves or bandits, thus far.

A water bottle on a dirt road covered with pinecones.
A forest service road that I run on. There are trails off of it.

In the winter, I’ve snowshoed those same trails, with varying degrees of success as it’s a lot harder to see the trail when it’s covered in snow. There’s been at least one moment of trepidation in which I really didn’t know where I was, but I worked it out. If you do go out into a rural area, do take caution to know where you are.

Snowshoes being worn in a snowfall
That same road during a curiously snowy May

I’ve also managed to build a small home gym from fitness equipment that I acquired for free on the internet. I used a local Facebook group, but you could probably find stuff on Craigslist, Nextdoor, or other similar sites. Fitness equipment is often heavy and bulky and there’s a tendency for people to give up on using it and then give it away. I’ve managed a free Total Gym, elliptical, stationary bike, and even a tiny treadmill. 

A small home gym
Our tiny home gym, the elliptical is in a different room.

When I was doing my worst commute, I was driving 9 miles into town, catching a bus down the mountain, and then switching to another bus down there. It was 50 miles each way, 100 total per day. When my car died and I couldn’t make that 9 mile drive, I had to switch to my bike for a little while and learned the hard way that it takes me an hour to bike into town and 2 hours to bike home (there are longer uphill portions on the ride home).

I did this for the better part of a summer, and it sucked, but at least it was a good workout. I did eventually get the car fixed, because there’s no way this would work in the winter up here and also because I needed that time back.

A bike parked on the side of a road, a lake and mountains in the distance
Los Lagos Reservoir and the Continental Divide – my bike commute did have a stunning view.

So, what about you? Lots of people have a hard time getting to the gym due to work, commute, kids, or a simple lack of motivation. If your problem isn’t lack of motivation, then set something up at home, because anything is better than nothing. I’m no fitness expert, but I know two things.

  1. I feel better when I move
  2. We did not evolve to sit on our asses all day long.

So, go wrap a cinder block in duct tape or jump rope in your yard (yes, this is embarrassing – jump rope is hard – do it anyway) or grab a free stationary bike off of the internet (seriously, worth searching for) and just do something.  Maybe it’s possible for you to bike to work, maybe not. The point is to get creative with solutions to the problem.

Certain things about my workout are more specific to the mountains (no one in Florida is doing any snowshoeing anytime soon), but you can tailor things to your area. Rollerblading? Surfing? Anyone can run or at least walk, depending where your fitness level currently is. When I lived in the city, I would go to city parks and do HIIT workouts. Certain playground equipment can double as fitness equipment and anyone can do bodyweight exercises, virtually anywhere.

It’s easy to fall into an all-or-none proposition such as “I can’t work out enough, so I won’t work out at all”. I went from going to the gym 5-6 days a week, to struggling to get just 2 days in and psychologically it was really hard. I am coming back from being in the worst shape of my life, but… it could have been worse. I refused to give up and stop completely. I still ended up getting a YMCA membership even though I couldn’t really afford it, it wasn’t nearby, and I could only go a couple of times a week. I did the aforementioned home workouts and scrounged up that free equipment and wrapped a goddamn cinder block in duct tape and jumped fucking rope. I hate jump rope. Like, a lot. It sucks.

What is my point here?

  1. Examine your motivations
  2. Determine your goals based off of those motivations
  3. Honestly assess the excuses you are making to prevent you from hitting those goals
  4. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Maybe your life truly doesn’t logistically allow you to do everything you want, but don’t let that be an excuse to do nothing.
  5. Get creative
  6. Wrap a cinder block in some goddamn duct tape

Yes, I’m kidding about #6. I mean, unless you want to do that. I do use mine.

What creative solutions have you come up with?

 

Obligatory legal note: I am not a health or fitness professional. Contact a doctor if you have actual health questions.

 

 

Author: ambergris

HumanWoman

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