Friday, 15 January 2016

The alternative January workout

At this time of year you can’t escape the bombardment of diet and exercise information, even supposedly living away from it all in the hills of North Wales. Everywhere you turn you are faced with pictures of trim, bronzed beauties promising us abs like theirs and 12lb weight loss in 3 days by signing up to their fool proof programme. Except you would have to be a fool to believe all that in the first place. Right? If you really do want to lose some of the lard and get a bit fitter and stronger, may I suggest the alternative, wannabe smallholder slash mother-of-two workout. It doesn’t guarantee you any particular results other than keeping various dependents alive, warm and vaguely entertained. Any benefits are solely derived as a bonus bi-product of stuff you needed to do anyway and by sheer virtue of the fact that you don’t have time to get your mitts anywhere near the biscuit tin. Exercises are typically performed according to necessity and can be repeated as often as you are physically able!

Exercise one: The bin pull

Works:  arms, legs, nose

Putting the bin out used to be a two minute job. Tie up the bin bag, dump it in the wheelie bin and move it to the front gate. Nowadays it involves lugging two super-sized wheelie bins (super-sized ones only arrived after much begging and pleading and submission of an actual business case to the county council stating that we needed large bins to accommodate 2 x baby bi-products) to the end of our drive, negotiating large pot holes and expansive puddles along the way. When you are not trying to keep the bins from capsizing down the ditch at the side of the drive, you are dashing back and forth trying to capture the really stinking items that invariably blow out of the top as you battle the gale force head winds. A good warm up if ever there was one.


Exercise two: The jerry can yoke

Works: legs, arms, shoulders

You would be mightily surprised at how much one average-sized pig can drink. In the middle of winter. In the wet weather. We have to fill up two 25 litre jerry cans with water at the workshop and lug them back up the hill to Peppa’s field every day. They weigh an absolute ton and every time I do it I feel like Geoff Capes in the World’s Strongest man, with 25kg gripped in each hand and my legs trembling beneath me as I stagger one slow step at a time through the ankle deep mud. Not sure about strengthening the arms but I'm pretty sure that it has made mine longer.

Bring on the gorilla arms...

Exercise three: The bleep test

Works: cardio, legs, reserves of patience

Every morning we set out for the animals/veg patch/swings and every morning it takes me on average ten attempts to actually make any headway. I believe that the Swedish call it ‘Fartlek’ (snigger) which means ‘speed play’ and is a recognised technique for interspersing regular paced running or walking with sprints. I seem to remember doing something similar at school where we had to run increasingly fast in time with the bleeps. Now I find myself dashing back and forth up and down the hill to retrieve the three year old who insists on wandering off in the exact opposite direction to where we want to go, before charging back to keep the pram moving and stop the baby from whingeing. Now the bleeps are less about keeping the right pace and more about masking all of the cursing going on under my breath as I dig deep for the patience and fortitude to keep me calm and smiling. At times like this I can identify with Captain Scott on his expedition to the Antarctic, where he had to leave his food parcels and retrace his steps over and over just to ensure he had enough reserves to get him to the pole and back. Oh yeah, except…

Exercise four: The mud shuffle

Works: Thighs, thighs, thighs!

As the place increasingly starts to resemble the Somme, so getting about is becoming increasingly precarious. I have lost count of the number of times that I have now gone arse over tit and ended up skidding down the hill on my derriere (hence my waterproof trousers are now essential wear every time I leave the house). In a vain attempt to remain upright we have adopted a slightly bizarre shuffling gait where you barely lift your feet out of the mud and instead focus on retaining as much traction as possible to mitigate the risk of slips. Looks hilarious and is a killer workout for the thighs.

Exercise five: The swing push

Works: Triceps, biceps, schmiceps

“Higher mummy, push me higher” is a very popular refrain ringing out from our place at the moment. Having just mastered the ‘big girl swing’ our eldest is now obsessed with swinging as high as she can. And it seems that her boredom threshold is a lot higher than mine, not to mention the strength in my upper arms. We can literally spend an hour on the swing, me bargaining with her on the number of ‘big ones’ mummy has to push before she can rest her poor aching arms. Can be combined with a squat action for the perfect all-over body conditioning workout.

Exercise six: The log lift

Works: arms, shoulders, back

If you burn wood at the rate at which I burn wood you spend a lot of time traipsing backwards and forwards to the log store to fill the increasingly dilapidated log baskets with the fruits of our chain sawing labours from the summer. With the temperature finally down to somewhere near freezing and seasonal norms we’ve had both wood stoves raging away all day and night which requires some logs, let me tell you. I can see my husband getting increasingly twitchy as what we once thought were our vast and plentiful stocks are dwindling rapidly and it’s only January. I think he just wants an excuse to don his rather fetching chainsaw trousers and boots and go play with his mega powerful new toy. 

Work it!

Exercise seven: The rod thrust

Works: legs, shoulders, a filthy mind

This is not half as exciting as it sounds. You basically have to squat down, feed telescopic rods up a clay pipe and then shove them backwards and forwards as fast as you can to release any built up silt or leaves. It is invariably accompanied by my husband shouting at me for not using the right technique and if I’m really lucky I get a face full of crap as it comes shooting out of the end of the pipe. Ah, who needs a clean, air-conditioned gym when you could be working out in the great outdoors?!

Giving the drains a good rodding

So there you go. I can’t guarantee you any particular results other than feeling like you need a very long sit down every evening and a good night’s sleep (if you were ever to get the opportunity with two small kids in residence).  The beauty of it is that it is completely free and you don’t need any special equipment other than what you have anyway. I would however strongly advise that you wear something wind and waterproof to avoid getting soaked to the skin and freezing your bits off in the process. Of course you could just go for a nice, long walk instead...

PS. If you fancy a little workout for your mouse finger and haven't done so already, voting is still open for the UK Blog Awards 2016. All you have to do is click here and it takes less than a minute to complete. As I'm unlikely to win any real fitness competitions any time soon a blog award might be quite nice. 

No comments:

Post a Comment