You would think that because the holidays are drawing closer, everyone’s a little jollier, a little more easygoing, a little more lax. Kick back, loosen the pants, and enjoy an extra cookie, right? It’s snowing outside, there’s no possible way you can work out in this weather!
The good people at Body Space Fitness disagree.
When I visited owner Kelvin Gary last week, he walked me through eight (seemingly simple but deceptively effective) exercises that left my muscles sore, even though I hadn’t picked up a single weight. Granted, I squatted, lunged, planked and pushed my body up, so while I may not have touched any weights, I was the weight. Anyone who says you need to hit the weight racks to get a good workout has clearly never trained body weight style with Kelvin.
But what if you can’t even head to the gym at all? What if you’re on vacation and the hotel you’ve booked doesn’t have a rec room? What if you’re on a business trip and the only space you’ll get to work out in is the 5x5 patch of carpet in your room? What if you’re at your parents’ house for the holidays and the living room is engulfed by a massive tree and your childhood bedroom is now a storage closet for everything else in the house? (Hey, it could happen.) Do you give up and leave your fitness goals to January 1st? No! Why would you go and do a silly thing like that?
To start, Kelvin had me do a series of dynamic warm ups—walk outs, toe touches, butt kicks, and an embarrassing excuse for a skip during which I had to close my eyes and move backwards. This was the biggest movement I did the entire hour, and if you’re stranded in your parents’ house or a hotel, I’m sure you could use the hallway. Hopefully your fellow boarders will understand. (Maybe they’ll even join in!)
And then the real work began.
Round one consisted of a simple enough-looking set, comprised of:
- 8 squats
- 8 walk-outs
- 8 T planks
- 8 mountain climbers
Ideally, Kelvin said, you’d do two to three rounds of the exercises, with 10-15 reps per move. (Fewer if you were a beginner, more if you were strong enough to control your own body weight.) For the first round, he had me go through each exercise eight at a time, in sequence. It was work, sure, but it wasn’t too tough. It was bearable. But then he had me perform all four moves in the series, meaning to flow from one move to the next. I squatted only to begin a walk-out once my hips locked back into place at the top of the squat, only to perform a T plank on both my left and right sides and then throw in two mountain climbers before crawling back up from the walk-out’s to plank position. Once I stood up again, it was back down into the squat into the walk out into the plank, and so it goes.
And it was hard. Funnily enough, performing the exercises in a series made the work seem to go faster, but it also made me work harder. Kelvin explained that since I was changing planes and going from standing to planking and back, rather than standing for eight moves, and then planking for eight moves, I was adding another dimension to the workout, and changing up the complexity.
He also had me do the same thing for the next two sets, which contained:
- 8 single-leg deadlifts
- 8 reverse lunges
- 8 lateral lunges
- A plank in which I moved from my elbows to my hands and back 8 times
- A plank in which I raised my arm and pulled it back into a row 8 times
- A dynamic side plank in which I dipped my bottom hip down to the floor 8 times
I did each of those in both series and sequence form, and each time, the sequence version kicked my butt that much more than the series. Don’t get me wrong; the series is a decent workout on its own, but forcing me to keep my coordination while I changed from movement to movement was tough. (Especially since I’m a runner at heart; I’m more accustomed to one, very repetitive motion.)
Finally, we revisited the first set. This time, Kelvin had me do the following:
- Jump squat
- Squat thruster
- Push up
- Cross mountain climber, in which I brought each knee to the opposite elbow instead of driving it straight into my chest
Mercifully, he let me do the push-ups on my knees, and the squat thruster didn’t involve a jump at the end the way a typical burpee does, but I still had to link all four exercises together, and head right back into the jump squat when I popped back up. All told, I did another 8 rounds of the harder variation. It was brutal. It was tiring. I was dripping with sweat.
And I hadn’t left a very small square of space the entire time.
Thankfully, though, my butt wasn’t nearly as sore the next day. Maybe it’s because my body’s getting used to leveraging its own weight again. And since I’m working out through the holiday season, a time that most like to use as an excuse for inactivity, I can easily argue that the best recovery foods are gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate.