A Build-It-Yourself Gym

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I am a fitness equipment nut. But my husband has learned not to let me near sporting goods stores, and I know better than to let late-night TV purchases drain my wallet and clutter my closets . . . anymore. Instead, to maintain my habit and my marriage, I've conned Hubby into thinking that we're bonding over building projects when really I'm just using him to get gym equipment on the cheap. Hence, my homemade "crafty" gym.

Project 1: Sandbag

Talk about a versatile piece of equipment. You can hoist a sandbag to work the upper body, jump over it for cardio training, put it on the shoulders or hold it while walking, squatting or lunging for intense lower-body training. When I'm feeling hard-core, I attach the bag to my weight lifting belt and drag it around.


Materials: One Army surplus (or other rugged) duffel bag, several one-gallon plastic zip-top bags, one contractor bag or thick garbage bag, duct tape, 50 pounds of sand

How to: Fill the zip-top bags three-quarters full with sand; press out air. Tape each bag lengthwise and then widthwise until you have what looks like a foot-square silver pillow.

Fill the contractor bag with the duct-taped sand packets to the weight you want. Gather the bag at the top, twist twice and fold the contractor bag down over itself to reinforce the shell. Completely cover the shell with duct tape. Put the taped shell into the duffel bag.

Sandbag thruster : Hold the bag against your chest, palms away from your body. Grip the bag from the top. Squat down (weight over your heels, to protect your knees), then stand up and lift the sandbag overhead in one motion. Do five reps. Repeat.

Project 2: Medicine Ball

The weighted ball has a long fitness pedigree: Even Hippocrates was a fan. Tossing the ball strengthens arms and shoulders, and it's a star for abdominal twists and weighted sit-ups. One challenging move is to hold the ball overhead and slowly bend side to side. My favorite exercise is called "Where's Fido?" I take the ball, hurl it, fetch it myself, and repeat until I fall down.

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