Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Home Work Out

The chair: my exercise machine
CC Image Courtesy Luca Rossato on Flickr
The title of this post may be a little misleading. Because I don't actually work out.  Sure, I'll go to any class named after a pastry, do any kind of yoga you throw at me, and I'll even embarrass myself in dance classes on a weekly basis, but in my mind these are just activities that happen to be a good work out.  I mean that stuff is fun; it's not like the real exercise that people who go to gyms do on scary looking machines and with personal trainers.  I've never been a member of a gym (apologies to the gym salespeople that I exploit for guest passes so I can go to free yoga and dance classes).  I don't think I've ever lifted a weight in my life.  I am unsure because I may have had to move one from under my roommates bed once to get to her stash of clean sheets, since I don't do my laundry very often either.  I'm not quite sure what an elliptical machine does.  I was a runner for a while, but my asymmetrical, overpronating, flat feet guaranteed that I was constantly injured.  In school, I went straight from playing kickball and steal the bacon in gym class to having cool electives like Tai-Chi.  In summary: not a person who "works out."

Well, recently, one of my yoga instructors told me that I rely too much on my flexibility in yoga and I must build my strength.  To be clear, yoga IS a form of strength training.  In yoga, you are constantly lifting your own body weight with your muscles.  My problem is that sometimes my flexibility makes certain poses too easy for me and I cheat.  For example, in triangle pose, I can put my hand down onto the floor.  This takes more flexibility, but it actually takes a lot less strength than placing your hand on your leg.  When you put your hand on your leg, you can't put all of your weight into that hand; you need to hold your side body up using the muscles in your legs and core.  Ideally you should be able to bring that hand off of any support and still maintain your side body!  The other area in which I clearly need more strength is in standing balances.  I used to think that I fell down a lot just because I had a bad sense of balance and would give up on poses like tree and warrior III, but I've come to realize that my leg muscles are just not strong enough.

I am getting stronger from correcting my bad yoga habits and from doing yoga constantly, but I've decided I need a little extra help in the strength department.  So now I do three "real" work out-y exercises at home, that I got from various fitness sites.  No fancy equipment needed, just a chair.  I usually do these while watching TV, so I do the exercises during the show and sit in said chair during commercials and take snack breaks.

Okay, so my at home work out consists of:

Chair Dips:  Sit on the very edge of your chair with your arms.  Your feet should be out past your knees.  You can do this with knees bent or legs straight out in front of you).  Hold the chair edge with your  hands at shoulder's width.  Then slowly lower your butt down off the chair.  Your knees should not go past your feet and most importantly, do not lower your arms past 90 degrees.  You can seriously injure your rotator cuff if you lower too much in your arms.  I usually do about 10 at a time on each side (I believe exercisey people call that a "rep").  I really love this exercise because I can feel it working my triceps.  I think arm balances do a lot for my biceps, but I really felt weak in the back of the arms when I had to climb those aerial silks!  Anybody know which yoga poses are good for triceps?

Chair Lunges: Put one leg behind you on the chair (so that your shin is resting on the chair).  Walk the standing leg out a little bit.  Lower down on your standing leg so that your knee is at 90 degrees.  Raise up, rinse, repeat.  These lunges have really improved my balance!

Step Ups:  Face the chair and place one foot on the seat.  Step up with the other leg then step down with the same leg.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Switch sides.

The end of my fitnessy exercisey post.


  1. You actually do these exercises? That is very fitnessy, indeed. What inspired you?

    1. Being weak! Not being able to do standing poses or a pull up. Also, it's like a nice brainless thing to do while watching TV.

  2. Thanks for the post! I've been really unmotivated about going to the gym because the act of going/sneaking away from work is difficult.