5 years Working Out Without Weight Training Or A Gym

I often talk about my work outs. I guess many might assume that working out for me requires a gym membership or weight training. It doesn't. For the last 5 years I have not had a gym membership or lifted weights.

Like a lot of things about my life, particularly since I changed things up and went in new directions in 2015, I have dramatically changed the way I keep fit and train my body. I have had to adapt to new surroundings and new ways of living.

The changes have been substantial. I have needed to modify what I do and how I do it. In terms of volume, I train nowhere near the volumes I was training 5 years ago. This is as much due to the fact that I don't have a gym with dozens of pieces of equipment and variations, as it is about my lifestyle and being in lots of places - I move around a lot.

So what do I do? I have always placed a lot of importance on body weight exercises - particularly chin ups and parallel bar dips. Both are upper body exercises. Both are push (dips) and pull (chins) exercises. Both are functional exercises and replicate and reflect movements we do everyday of our lives. These 2 exercises are key movements for me, as apart from the above, they also build and maintain muscle and strength.

Added to the above, I also do push ups as a third option or replacement for parallel bar dips. Sometimes I will do sit ups. I find though that dips and chins work the midsection pretty well.

For lower body I mostly walk, ride my bike when I am in Hobart, and I do step ups, hill climbs, and some beach work and water (running or jogging through sea water - generally short distance speed laps or longer 'jogging' in waste deep water) work. These exercises are relatively low impact (to protect my joints) and light exercise routines, and are a far cry from my many years of high volume heavy front and back squats and leg presses, cricket, running, and at one time, sprint training.

These days I need to be opportunistic. It means that wherever I go, I need to know where I can work out. It is generally a school yard or a community oval where there is equipment of some sort. Outdoor gyms in parks are also a bonus. Generally speaking, I can usually use some imagination to get in my chins and dips by finding something to pull myself up on... somewhere.

To be clear here, gyms are much better with far more variation. My point though, is that no matter where you are, or how limited equipment or workout options may appear to be - there is always a way to move and train your body.

Fitness for me has always been more than keeping fit and functional though. I always wanted to stay lean and look fit... as much as actually being fit. As I have gotten older, that attitude and approach is just as important as it always was.

In some ways fitness has become more important. Fitness for me, like my approach to spirituality and coaching for that matter, is about the process and the journey. It is not an outcome. It is a work and play in progress. Good outcomes eventuate from good processes. It is always ongoing.

What I have continued to notice over my lifetime, is that the majority of people get to a point where they let decide to themselves go, or more to the point, relax and stop focusing on their bodies. Some of course were never concerned with body fitness or image in the first place. Many relaxed in their 30's, many more did that in their 40's, and many, many more did in their 50's. Not me.

Just like I don't like the word retirement in relation to a working life - I don't think retirement - or an ending, or end goal - in relation to fitness is applicable either. Life goes on. Maintaining my body does too.

Although I am not a body builder as such, I am inspired by men like Albert Beckles, Robby Robinson, Clarence Bass and Tony Pearson - men who continue to challenge and redefine the aging process and maintain exceptionally great physiques well into their 60's, 70's and 80's.

I am every bit as concerned about my body in terms of performance and functionality as I always have been. Where I used to take strength and speed for granted - I now understand they were the gifts of my youth.

In my mid 50's, sometimes, I get glimpses of those times - times where I feel like I am still functioning at a level that defies, or at least does not reflect age. I make sure I capitalise on these times.

[As a side note: I would give a thousand dollars in a heartbeat just to feel my body perform the way it was at age 25 for as little as 5 minutes - I would probably pay more if I was honest. Perhaps others would too I imagine]

What do I mean? Running through water is a great example. I used to love running fast. The way I can replicate that feeling these days, is by doing short run throughs in the ocean where I mimmick the motion of running fast.

For me, modelling a sprint action and pumping my arms and legs in deeper water can still feel explosive - I like my body to feel like it has speed and strength in reserve. In water I can do this exercise in relative safety.

The old adage, use it or lose it rings true here - I like to think muscle memory has more dimensions and applications than the current definitions.

I will also do some short run throughs and agility exercises on the beach or in parks - but my body needs to be up for it. These days, more than ever, it's about listening to my body and knowing when to ramp up, ease back - or stop. Sometimes I simply cannot do it, or the time isn't right. These days I accept that and wait till a time I can.

I also like walking rocky coastlines and testing my agility and speed on low impact rock hopping. A simple exercise like this keeps my reflexes sharp and my balance and leg speed up.

I have deliberately added some depth and back story here because the way I holistically approach my health, is to keep finding ways I can improve and maintain my body and my being. Whether it is my intermittent fasting or my cold shower routines, my diet, my interest in the powers of the mind, spirituality, the quantum field etc etc - I seek to improve and to look beyond the average or the believed way of living and doing things.

There is more to life - much more to life - than we believe, than we are led to believe, and much more than we are even able to conceive at this point in our evolution. I find that incredibly enticing and exciting...

Craig Hedge is a professional life coach based in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Disclaimer: This article is NOT health advice. Please do your own research to determine if you need to join a gym or start a fitness program. There are risks in starting fitness programs. Consider seeking medical/professional/personal trainer advice and direction before proceeding with any fitness program.

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