Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pause for a "How I Did It Post"

On Facebook, I was reading a follower's update that had the frustration begin with the line "Overheard at Goodlife: Bro, what's your max curl?" ... I just don't know where to begin with that one. How frustrating it must be to have to listen to such crap. Every. Bleeping. Time. You. Train.

I have had enough similar experiences at my local LA Fitness, that I'm giving up my recently started membership. I'd rather spend the money on stuff I'll use in my own gym.

I did respond to my Facebook friend's post; the response was that people liked my gym and wanted something similar. I promised that I would post something entitled "How I did this". This post is fulfilling that promise.

It all starts with a space. I know that some of my other Facebook friends (Think East York Kettlebell Club, for example) work out in their storage area of their condo. I believe he calls it "his dungeon" and stores only his bells in there for his workouts. A tour of his space can be found here. For me, though, I had a living room when I lived in a condo about 7 years ago. I had to train outside of my child's bedroom, usually late at night ... and so I didn't do much training, I'm sorry to say. I had to find something better.

Instead, my wife got pregnant and we needed a bigger place. We started looking.

I moved into a small two story town home, with an unfinished basement. About the same time, I "found" kettlebells and the way to use them. I bought a few things off of Zach on eBay and I was off to the races. I watched Youtube, I read blogs and books and I was pretty happy at what I was seeing. For a while I training with my kettlebell in my basement. I'm sorry to say that I had to get it finished, and put down a nice floor. That was the end of my training there; I lost my space and decided to take the garage. At the time, it was gross. I painted the floor and bought four cheap pink and purple puzzle mats for too much money. I was disappointed, but I knew that I wanted to train and do more stuff.

As a brief aside, I found Mike McNeil, of Orange County Fitness. It is his hat that is in the picture at the start of this post. A very hard training guy, lots of ideas and smarts about training, nutrition and ways of improving both. Since I have known him, though, life has seemingly taken a series of gigantic craps on
his head. I know he'll come back from adversity. Find him and like him on Facebook. It's worth it.
Another guy I found a lot closer to home is Chris from Empire Fitness in Toronto. Look him up, too. I learned a lot about being resilient and looking around for stuff to think about.
Quiet and effective
A few months later, Underground Strength Training website ran a charity promotion and I was able to get inside information about how to train and with what to train. I also found how to use simple and cheap objects for training. Sandbags, rope and logs. Now sandbags I could get for less than ten dollars, rope was also cheap at the local Canadian Tire. Logs, on the other hand, I had to look for. Synchronicity has been one of my strengths after turning 30 and at the time, my brother bought a cottage. I found logs at the bottom of the lake and hauled them out.

Yes, this is me.
I use Kijiji and Craigslist and Ebay to find and buy cheap things. I got 50 lb hex dumbells from a guy who  wanted rid of them. I got 250 lbs of crappy vinyl/cement weights from a house on the other side of my small city for 50 bucks. I wish I had a picture of the dolls in the floor to ceiling case he had in his basement. I was glad to get out of there without being eaten.

I found and made friends with the owner, and bought a TRX off of him in addition to more bells. I just expanded slowly; not all at once. I'd save fifty bucks and buy one thing. Some months, I'd jsut save the money. At one point, during a drought of finding nothing online, I spent five minutes at work looking one day. It paid off and got wall to wall to garage door wrestling mats for a cheap price that night. Seems a Martial Arts studio was closing. Timing and patience.

I also started using Facebook and Twitter to discover and learn about different training ideas and people. I got and installed my own chin up bar after chatting online with Craig, the Turbulence Training guy.

Later, I found out about making a Bulgarian training bag from materials I could find anywhere.

 Matt, the The Strength Shop guy is always posting great ideas about training. In fact, one of his ideas is a so called "Fire Drill", in which I carry everything out of the garage, put it on the front lawn .... and then put it back. Of course, I clean the garage at the same time. I do this twice a year.

Would someone shut off that alarm?!
The past few summers, I've also hit garage sales on Saturday morning. This past summer, I found a home gym for twenty bucks. as a whole, it was not very good. I got it home and refashioned it in a couple of ways. I took the bench off, as I already had a pretty good one from Craigslist. I took the foam handles off of the leg extensions and put them on my chin up bar. The remaining parts I either set up as a squat rack or gave away to the local scrap guy a week later.

Which reminds me, one thing I have to mention is that I now keep a few bells in the back of my vehicle. Yes, the roll around sometimes, but it's worth it. Depending on the time of year, I get to drop my kids off at school, and then get to the beach or local park to train. If you've never done that, you should at least try. Safety, of course, is always number one. If it isn't a place you feel comfortable in, move along. I now have like four of five spots I like to train when the weather is good.

At the local park

Finally, I keep my eyes open when I get around my neighbourhood. I found a piece of telephone pole a while ago and washed it and stored it to let it dry. I found a cool spot on the local beach to drive to that has monkey bars and sand underneath. Later on, while walking with my kids, I found a big rock, perfect for deadlifts and throws and such. One neighbour taught me to use uTorrent and now I have access to a huge library of training videos, ebooks and MP3 files from all over the world.

In the end, I honestly think my space is not complete.  I know that I will be moving again in a short period of time to a bigger place. With all the training I have been doing, I'm hoping that will lend leverage to my position about getting an extra room designated as a training room. Who knows, one thing I have learned is that you have to be willing to be flexible and be willing to train anywhere with anything.


  1. Good use of resources. Here is the link to the dungeon.