2012.10.10 The home gymnasium

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I've written before about my home workouts on the stairs. I don't get to the track to walk a mile or two often enough, so I take to the stairs now and then for 10 minutes of running up and down.

It's been a safe venture so far. I always have a hand on the railing on the downstairs trip—so I don't trip.

Safety is more of a concern after a strange bicycle incident last week. Besides, with winter coming on, I get pushed inside more and more.

My son, Ben, and his wife used to go to a gym to work out. It's so hot in Miami that the thought of taking a brisk walk isn't too appealing except maybe early in the morning when the temperature is still in the 80s.

I didn't know that they dropped their gym membership several months ago, but I figured it might come to an end with the arrival of their baby. When I saw a review of an iPad/iPhone app called "You are your own gym," I sent the link to Ben. The description asks: "Can't find the time to go to the crowded gym? Tired of spending money on gym membership and overpriced equipment? Use the body you have to build the body you want."

There's a photo of a guy lying on the floor with his head under his living room coffee table. His hands are raised and gripping the edge of the table, ready to pull himself up. It's almost a joke, but it's actually very practical. So I downloaded the app and I'm ready to explore my transformation from weakling to a living room muscleman. 

As I look around the room, I'm disappointed to discover that I don't have a table the right height to perform any of the 11 variations offered. The first two are rated "moderate" in difficulty, then it proceeds on to semi-hard, hard, harder and very hard.

In the final one, a chair is brought up near the table. One foot is placed on the chair and the other foot is held in place above the chair. In this case, your head is protruding from the other side of the table where your arms are pulling you up to the table. Now I feel fortunate that I don't have the right equipment.

I love the simplicity of this. There's a routine that involves only a belt and a door. You wrap a belt around a pair of doorknobs, straddle the edge of the door slightly, bend your knees and start pulling yourself toward the door with the belt. 

When I say that I love the simplicity, I'm referring to the equipment, not the exercise. Something as simple as this doorknob thing kills my knees. I've got to stop bending down to take photos at football games. The app lists several muscles that will be aided by this exercise, but no mention is made of the involvement of the knees.

Here's one I can handle—at least a little bit of it. With the Towel Curl, you hold on to your wife's bath towel to form a loop. Place a foot onto the loop and pull up your leg which is offering resistance. Simple and effective.

For pull-ups, you place a towel over the top of a door for padding, then pull up along the side of the door. For curls, put something heavy in a backpack. You can jump from the floor to the table top—if you're home alone, that is. Stairways, walls, door frames—it's just brilliant.

My chief concern would be equipment failure. For example, those doorknobs have been around a long time. That brings to mind my bike incident. I watched a quarter or so of the JV football game and then pedaled home rapidly. I enjoy fast rides.

I pulled into my driveway and just as I was ready to dismount—when weight is put on the handlebars—the right side of the bars snapped off. My hand dropped, the front wheel jacked to the left and I was sprawling on the concrete.

My neighbor, Randy Gilson, was in his driveway across the hedge, heard the noise in the dark and asked if I was all right. I was surprised that I was OK. My hip is still sore, but I survived my worst biking mishap since I was caught by the railroad tracks on Mill Street when I was about nine years old.

With the old 1972 bicycle out of service, I'm going to need some exercise in the home gym, but, remember, these routines start at "moderate." At least I'll exercise my eyes.

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