We all have too narrow an idea of what a workout should be. We can challenge ourselves physically anytime by clearing brush from the yard or playing with the kids, but most of us prefer some kind of quantifiable result when we exercise. I usually gravitate toward a monumental endurance task – riding 20 miles up a mountain or hiking for two hours – but I could just be at the beach with my girls, playing in the water, wrestling, or taking a walk in the sand. It’s all fitness. Although we may feel like we’ve earned our keep by accomplishing some set distance or rep routine, there’s a variety of less tangible ways to stay strong, no matter where we are or how much time we have. Here are a few of them.
Against the Wall
You can always find a wall – every airport, hotel room, or house has one – and it’s the perfect platform for working out. First, you can do wall sits, which will build your legs and core. Put your back against the wall and squat like you’re sitting in a chair. Hold there for as long as you can. When this get too easy, alternate squatting on one leg at a time. You can also do handstands on a wall. Start by facing the wall in a pose similar to downward dog, with your hands and feet on the floor. Then kick your legs over your head, using the wall for support if you need it. Once you’re in a handstand, hold it while breathing through your nose, which will make it harder. Do a few sets, several minutes each, and you’ll be ripped. You’re holding your entire body with your arms instead of your legs – and you know how much bigger your legs are. You’ll get results. Hindu squats are one of the simplest things you can do – and you don’t even need a wall. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms straight out in front of you. Squat as low as you can while lowering arms to your sides – ideally, you want to touch your butt to your heels, but don’t go so far that it causes pain or considerable discomfort. Stand up again by pushing through your legs, bringing your arms back out in front of you. Do 100 of those continuously, and it’s an instant cardio workout.
The Family Way
Having kids means you have less time to exercise, but running around with your children can be a great workout if you give yourself over to it. At the end of the day, I’m usually dragging and exhausted, but my kids will say, “Come on, Dad, let’s jump on the trampoline,” or shoot hoops or jump in the pool or wrestle. You want to say no, but you always get something out of saying yes – and it’s not just a workout. Then, when they fall asleep, I’ll carry them upstairs. I’m tired, my legs are shot, and I want to go to sleep, but I do it because not only is it good for them, it’s good for me, too. If your kids don’t ask, take the initiative. Ask them to go for long walks. It’s a superprimal thing to do, but a lot of good conversation happens on long walks – that’s when their inquisitiveness comes out. Or go swimming together, do push-ups with your kids on your back, or carry them. When you slap 50, 60, or 70 pounds on your back, you don’t have to go very far to get in a workout.