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Exercising and Travelling – Life Without The Gym

Since being a teenager, my life has been tied to a gym membership somewhere.  I write ‘tied’, but honestly, it has been a joy.  I have loved the friendships (albeit mostly temporary) that gym membership has provided.  When I have lived overseas, I have found a gym to exercise in.  Even on many of my short -term holiday stays I have found a hotel or something similar to allow me to exercise.  It is something that I consider important and therefore an area that I invest some dedicated effort.  Since relocating to Spain, Sara and I dabbled with the thought of the unimaginable, to see if we could save a little bit of money and the inevitable cancellation difficulties that often arise (especially when taking a membership for less than a year), and forego my routine of gym membership.  This has pushed me into an area of discomfort, and led me to find new ways to try and find release for my active needs, and desire for physical improvement.

Foundation Training

On reentering European borders from Argentina, I invested in a series of digital downloads which are based on isometric exercises.  This to me is fantastic as it allows me to get away from the requirement of a house of exercise machines, inflatable balls and heavy things, while still being challenging.  The course we purchased states to be based on back strengthening exercises, and while I find that it has a significant focus on the back it does feel to work other parts of the body.  The programme is called Foundation Training, and earlier this year a new series of digital downloads were released and I have been doing these almost daily ever since.  The sequences of moves are taken at a slow pace, which are well explained.  It can be very challenging, especially in the beginning.  The positions that are to be assumed do not require a large amount of space, which can be useful, but those positions can be far from complimentary, so maybe best reserved in more reclusive places.

Pros:
No additional equipment required.
Small footprint required in which to do exercises.
No jumping or noisy movements involved.
Short or longer sessions available in video series.
Single price for series – available as digital download or DVD.

Cons:
No cardio element, as everything is based on isometric movement.
Can involve looking a bit like of a moron (pretty much a status quo situation for me).
Some of the explanations of movements can leave me a little uncertain.
Lack of symmetry in movements; different exercise on left and right sides of body.

YogaGlo

Sara has a preference for yoga, and for this reason we purchased a subscription to YogaGlo.  This offers a wide range of exercise sessions of various lengths with a number of different instructors.  I try and do a class of this daily, even if just a 15 minute session.  I have found that I have a preference to more restorative Yin type classes.  This is primarily due to the fact that I am not familiar yet with the positioning and naming of various poses that that teachers quickly name and seem to expect you to assume in a fraction of a second, before calling the next pose.  I think that if you have a sense of flow and can remember the positions this would not be a problem for you.  I find this set of possible classes excellent though as there is such a wide range it is difficult to get bored.

Besides this I have typically been running at least 3 times a week.  However, during the period of injury of my left ankle, running was not an option.  I tried some skipping but this aggravated the condition somewhat, even if I did persist with that longer than I probably should have.

Pros:
A very wide range of yoga classes of many different styles, for most levels of ability.
Relatively inexpensive.
Works well on both smartphones and tablets.

Cons:
Monthly subscription, so ongoing payment required.
Seems to have a wide gap between levels (3 levels available).
A range of the classes require the use of props; blocks, straps, etc.

TRX Suspension Straps

However, I find that I have started to feel that these exercises are not allowing me to work my muscles in the way that I am used to.  For sure YogaGlo has some very intense classes that require a lot of strength, but they also need the practitioner to have flexibility, balance and an understanding of the position to assume.  For this reason I have buckled slightly into the more familiar world of exercise, although a slight twist on my known regimen, and I have decided to try something new to me and I have purchased some TRX suspension straps.  These are defined as heavily overpriced for what they are, but I decided to opt for getting a second hand pair.  New the cost is around £200 for a set, which does seem costly to me for a few bits of material, a karabiner or two, and a DVD.  I looked on eBay, and saw that most were selling at around £130 for the kit, which was still a little more than I wanted to pay.  At this point I looked to GumTree, which provides UK residents a way to quickly buy and sell products like a classified ad, without the auction functionality.  In this way I was able to pick up a set for £85 and that included postage (thank you Sam, the person from whom I purchased them from).

The TRX straps in themselves offer the possibility to do a range of movements which could be difficult to assume without them.  The product includes a door anchor, which allows the positioning of the strap over the top of the door when the door has been closed to provide a stable point.  It is possible to buy an anchor that can be positioned on a wall or ceiling, but this requires drilling and living in a rental gives me cause for pause in doing that.  However I would say that a ceiling anchor point would give the greatest range of possible movements.

As I never really spent much time using the straps at the gym, I am not very familiar with the movements and exercises that are available without wrecking myself in some way.  Because of this, we downloaded an iPhone app called TRX Force, and paid for the additional 12 week programme.  This is fantastic as it offers videos of the movements, and often includes up to 4 different variants of an exercise depending on strength or ability level.  I would recommend this as a structured exercise programme for newbies like me.

The first week of using the straps and I confess that it has ached me significantly, and most of the exercises are a distinct challenge.  That to me signifies the potential of physical improvement with these as a tool.  I have 11 weeks of the programme left, I’ll see where it takes me! 🙂

Pros:
Single piece of equipment that packs down into a small bag that comes in pack.
No additional weights required as operates using bodyweight only.
Seems to be of solid construction.
The range of possible exercises is very broad covering all the major body parts.

Cons:
Can be a little inconvenient in adjusting strap length all the time (maybe just need to get used to this).
The door anchor is easy to use, but due to layout of apartment I am in, not ideal.
Initially requires to learn a new set of movements, and I recommend buying the additional TRX Force app.

Buddy Lee Skipping Rope

On top of this, my kind mother-in-law Mummy P, bought me a Buddy Lee skipping rope and I have been using this as a cardio accompaniment recently, which is great especially given that my left ankle is still not working well.  This is greatly beneficial in getting my heart rate up and my blood and lymph coursing around my body, to clear and purify things (at least that is the hope). 🙂

Pros:
Compact.
Small range of total space needed, although somewhat deceptively more than originally thought.
Single price item.

Cons:
None, unless you do simply not like skipping.

That is my summary of things as they stand at the moment. I am going to continue with the above for a time, hopefully at least the next 11 weeks with the TRX programme. However, I am considering giving a try to the Beachbody Insanity home workout, the DDP Yoga home workout, or something similar.

Please let me know if you’ve tried anything, and your opinions of it. I understand that Jane Fonda VHS videos are still up near the top of the list, but I am neither emotionally, nor physically ready for such a challenge!

Thanks for reading, and your input and comment is greatly appreciated, so please write away.

2 thoughts on “Exercising and Travelling – Life Without The Gym

    1. jj and Sara Post author

      Thanks for the comment, the kind words, and the skipping rope!
      Sara always looks like a healthy buzzball, must be the great genes! In my case, I firmly believe that the tan helps! Although perhaps more importantly, limiting our visits to times in which your eyes were blurry with sleep and the brain is slightly addled has incredible payoffs! 🙂
      You seemed really happy and at peace while we were there! Our absence seems to be treating you well! 🙂

      Reply

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