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The Weird Fitness Equipment Workout

Posted Mar 24 2009 3:58pm

"What is it?" Gym Buddy Allison kicked the nubbly, hot pink, semi-inflated disk.

"Breast implant!" Gym Buddy Lisseth held it up to her chest. "It's lumpy so it feel more realistic."

"You stand on it," I instructed, grabbing it from her (blind-leading-the-blind concerns duly noted.)

"One under each foot? That seems a bit unstable," Gym Buddy Megan rubbed her pregnant tummy and contemplated belly flopping.

"It's supposed to be unstable," I answered, setting up two a good lunge-width apart.

Lisseth jumped on. "The back one's deflated!"

"It's supposed to be," I answered.

"Well they're not equally deflated," she retorted.

"That's what she said!" Megan quipped. A nearby personal trainer rolled his eyes so hard I swear I heard them clink.

"Are pregnant women allowed to make sex jokes?" I retorted.

"But what is it?? " Allison repeated.

We've all been there. It's the fitness equivalent of going to an high-end grocery store and pondering if "groats" are as disgusting as they sound and why anyone would want to combine them with anything called a "rabe." There are a lot of fit toys out there to play with and with new ones arriving on the scene every day, it can be tempting to stick with what you know and love. "Why hello there Mr. Treadmill! Today I will cover you with my sweat and then give you a nice antiseptic rubdown. In payment for your services, you may look up my shorts. Thank you." Why mess with a good thing?

Because - and you know this fitness rule just like Lindsay Lohan knows that nobody believes she's not attending her alcohol counseling classes because of a "personality clash" - change is essential for getting a good workout in. You have to surprise your body to really challenge it. (Note to Michael Jackson: Not you. Your body has had all the surprises it can handle. It would like to retire someplace warm soon. Without you. I hope you understand.)

And so it was that the Gym Buddies and I found ourselves doing the Weird Fitness Equipment Workout. Our original workout was supposed to be a cardio day but due to a strange confluence of events we ended up without a class, a room or cardio equipment (why oh why does no one think to save 5 ellipticals in a row?!?) So, I headed over to the Bucket o' Weird stuff that our gym keeps in the corner and dumped it all out. Spreading it in a circle, I told the Gym Buddies it was our new circuit. Work for one minute, rest and move to the next station for 30 seconds. Alternate strength and cardio moves. Repeat for 40 minutes.

Some pieces of equipment were easy to work in, like the jump rope, step and exercise bands. (Quick, name 100 exercises to do with a piece of stretchy rubber!) Others... not so much. For instance, this:

A 20-lb medicine ball. "Catch!" I yelled and chest-passed it to Lisseth. "Whaaa?" she gasped as it hit her in the chin. Have I mentioned I was always the last one picked for team sports? Allison and I got a little overly enthused with our game of heavy catch, frightening an elderly woman with bad peripheral vision who was walking around the track. It didn't help that when she turned to chastise us, Allison was flipping her off. Inadvertantly, of course - Allison got a nasty cut on her middle finger and until it heals up, she can't bend it. (10 points for being dedicated enough to still come to the gym injured!) Good times.

Then there was this:
For those of you familiar with The Monkey Bar Gym, this my friends, is a power wheel. I know it looks like a unicycle but if you try to use it like one you will quickly discover that the pedals don't rotate around the wheel, causing you to eat it big time. Trust me on that one. No, what you actually do is even better than any unicycle! You strap your feet in with the velcro and put the rubber bands around your heels. And then you roll around the gym floor as if you were suddenly turned into a hybrid mermaid-mountain bike trying to get your feet under you so you can use it for it's designed purpose, to do abs or hamstring exercises.

Next up:
Gliding disks! Sure the name sounds all graceful but they basically turn you into Bambi on the frozen pond. Gym Buddy hint: Try just putting one under your foot and leaving the other foot anchored on the floor. Thankfully I remember a bunch of exercises to do with them courtesy of The Action Hero Workout Experiment! (If you don't have actual "gliding disks", as we didn't then, you can always use paper plates or even thick pages ripped out of a magazine. Honestly, can you think of a better use for Cosmo?)

We ended on the breast implants/partially deflated thingies from the beginning. We lunged. We squatted. We made inappropriate comments. And my legs were sore the next day!

After we got over all the "what is it and what do I do with it?" problems, our Weird Gym Equipment Workout turned out to be one of the most unique workouts we've done in a long time. Not to mention the entertainment/embarrassment factor was high.

You too can play along! You don't need to have the exact equipment I listed - the point is to grab a bunch of random stuff you never usually use (balance board? wave? velcro arm weights? rowing machine? small child?) and set it up in a circuit. As long as you're working something, there's no wrong way to use it! The novelty will keep your body working and your mind off the time.

Anyone else have a fave piece of "weird" equipment? Anything you're too scared to try? Anything you've majorly embarrassed yourself using?
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