This tire weighs 160 pounds. And this is the “small tire”. I’m trying to smile but see all the cords in my neck popping out? Hot! No, literally. It was 113 degrees today.
Not everyone loves working out in a gym like I do – there’s the expense, the noise, the hassle, the crazy people and of course the having to share of the equipment. So what’s a non-gym rat to do to get their sweat on? The Garage Gym (or home gym but that’s not alliterative and therefore not as amusing to me) is a staple of exercisers everywhere. Not only do you never have to worry about someone messing up your circuit but if you get an E. coli infection from dirty equipment at least you have the comfort of knowing whose fecal matter contaminated it. (Wash your hands, people!)
So when my friend and fellow fitness geek Tyler (you may remember him from our Great Break Dancing Experiment?) told me about the fancy gym he’d made in his garage, mostly out of equipment he’d fashioned himself, I knew I had to see it. Of course when I told Tyler this he replied, “Well you can’t just come LOOK at it.” He offered to make up a workout for the Gym Buddies and I using all his cool equipment – most of which I’ve been dying to try but had not yet gotten to. I told him not to hold back. I believe my exact words were “Kill us.” I did not think he’d take that literally.
Okay so it wasn’t entirely his fault that we almost died today. Mother Nature also tried to do us in. As part of Heat-pocalypse (wow, that’s not catchy at all) 2011, we had a heat index today of 113 with 97% humidity. Did I mention our workout was mostly outside and his garage is not air-conditioned?
This pic does not even begin to do justice to how hot and wet it was out there today. (It was so steamy that our camera lens kept fogging up!) You’d think we’d have postponed it for a cooler day but I was actually excited to workout in a non-climate-controlled venue for a change. Weather adds a certain je ne sais quoi, don’t you think?
So first I’m going to take you on a tour of Tyler’s Garage Gym and how he made his stuff and then I’ll give you the Hot Sweaty Mess Workout at the end so you can try it on your own if you’re so inclined! (It was a great one!)
Any of you who’ve done CrossFit outside of a CrossFit Gym know the frustration of not having a set of rings handy. There’s no standard piece of gym equipment that truly replaces the combination of strength and balance that the rings require. Tyler bought these bad boys but you can make your own pretty simply (and cheaply). Tyler is demo’ing the ring dips.
Gym Buddy Megan’s daughter makes it look so much cuter! Yes we had all of our eleventy-thousand combined children with us…
I had to get in there and try to relive my old gymnast days (so fun!!). In the background you’ll see some other staples of a good Garage Gym: an industrial fan (especially today!), rubber interlocking floor covering (Tyler got his for cheap off of Craigslist from someone going out of business), a weighted ball, dumbbells, a speed rope and a kettlebell. Not pictured: a metal keg for throwing/lifting.
This is a slosh tube – it’s basically a length of PVC pipe filled 60% full of water and then capped off. Tyler had two sizes: the small one which I used and the big one (pictured) which I carried half way across the driveway looking like a drunk before dropping it. The instability of the water shifting inside the tube is what makes this such a powerful workout tool. Lunges + slosh tube = the hardest lunges I’ve ever done. Mark’s Daily Apple has a wonderful tutorial on how to make your own slosh tube. (Their tip: not filling it with alcohol. Awesome.)
Shuttle sprints go out of the gym with the 30-foot intervals marked on the street in chalk. Also written on the street in chalk: “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Aw! We used his toddler son’s shoes as the shuttles.
Gym Buddy Allison’s using a set of homemade paralettes – mini parallel bars – to do decline push-ups (in the sprinkler Tyler kindly set up for us to run through between stations). The CrossFit Journal has step-by-step instructions on how to build your own paralettes. Not only are they super cheap but they’re very versatile. You can use them for L-sits, handstand push-ups, triceps dips and other gymnastics-inspired torture.
Next up is the squat jump box. Of course you can use it to jump up on but Tyler’s showing us a variation where you jump up on the box, then jump off, land in a deep squat and then jump up in the air. With just a few pieces of scrap wood you can make your own – here are instructions in how to make your own adjustable-height squat box.
Krista improvises – beautifully – her own squat box out of a rock. (Want to know why Minnesotans often have huge boulders at the end of their driveways? So that when your whole yard is covered in snow you can back out of your driveway without running over your yard using the rock as your guide. Or so they tell me.)
No Garage Gym would be complete without… a full-length mirror! Kidding. …Without a pull-up bar bolted to the wall or ceiling! These are pretty cheap to buy these days (and portable too – my dad brought his door-frame chin-up bar to our family reunion!) but they’re not difficult to make either. Check out this video tutorial of how to make your own chin-up bar. Also, notice how Tyler is doing pull-ups with a 60-lb sandbag (another easy-to-make gym staple - just be careful not to screw it up like we did!) hooked over his feet? Jealous? Me too.
I’ve saved the best for last! And by best I mean absolute worst. The tire was by far the hardest piece of equipment for me to use. Tyler punched two holes through a large tire (yes, I’m going to keep saying large even though he insists 160 pounds is a small tire) then hooked two chains with handles through it. First we pulled it. Or tried to. It took everything in me just to get it going but hey it made my favorite shoulder vein pop out! This was the only station I dreaded.
Once we pulled a certain distance (20 feet? maybe?), we had to flip it end over end back to the start. This also royally sucked. I know I look all non-nonchalant but I wanted to puke right here. Check out this tutorial on how to make your own tire dragging sled.
Funnily enough, I was the only one who hated the tire. Allison and Krista made it look like a piece of cake dragging it (Al even did it forwards and backwards) but I showed them – it took both of them to pull me and the tire! Oh, wait…
The last thing we did with that Satan-spawned piece of (blistering hot) rubber was pound the crap out of it with the sledgehammer. I gotta say I enjoyed this part. Although maybe not as much as Krista did. She’s our farm girl, remember?
This is what we did between sets. For me it wasn’t the actual exercises that felt extra difficult in the extreme heat but rather I couldn’t recover in between. I was sucking wind so hard I just wanted to lay down on the grass. Don’t worry, we stayed plenty hydrated with water and electrolytes! (P.S. Like my kicks? They’re my new favorite shoes – the Mizuno Prophecy!! More on them another day…)
It sounds crazy but by the end of the workout I was kind of enjoying the sauna-esque heat. It made my muscles really limber and honestly once you’re soaked in sweat it doesn’t matter how much more liquid comes out of you. I didn’t even bother with the deodorant today! Raise your hand if you’re (not) Sure! (Anyone else remember this commercial as a staple of their childhood too??)
We finished off by taking a few runs through the sprinkler. Megan thinks we smell bad.
A HUGE thank you to Tyler and his lovely wife (who is not enjoying the Sweaty Hug) for sticking us in their garage and trying to kill us!!
(I heart my Bad Kitty Sassy Fitness blinged out top! It wicks the sweat and fits like a glove. And while they did give it to me for free, the opinion is all my own! Seriously, if you like unique, sparkly, not-your-average-Target-tank workout clothes you have to check their stuff out!)
The Hot Sweaty Mess Workout (as promised)!
Complete 3 sets of the following with a 2-minute break in between each set. Stations are for reps, not time (a set up I found agonizing as it meant I couldn’t slack at all or I’d fall behind!) Whether you choose to do this in a 113-degree sauna is up to you. I recommend it;)
10 Ring Dips
15 Box jump-squat-jumps
2 30-feet shuttle runs
20-foot Tire sled pull
Flip tire to return to start
10/arm Sledgehammer swings
15 decline push-ups on paralettes
30-foot walking lunges or sideways squats with slosh tube
Do you have a garage gym? What are your staples? Do you ever make your own equipment? Anyone else suffering through this insane weather too??