walking – all the kids are doing it

Walking – it’s the new “it” thing. All the cool people are doing it – or are they cool because it’s Autumn in Melbourne and puffer jackets abound?

With all the gyms closed and shelves devoid of exercise equipment, the inspired-to-exercise have had to go back in time and do what our ancestors did before they invented the cross trainer…and walk.

My day starts with a thirty-minute wake-up walk. After that, ol’ Gertie gets stuck into some work, pulling the proverbial weeds and trimming the leaves (not really, but I’ll spare you the details of my day job). At lunch, I may eat a sandwich, then sandwich in another walk, to stretch my legs and remind myself that there is sun and fresh air out there. At days’ end, I try for another walk, taking a different route to the one I ventured down earlier. I find myself following piles of rubbish – not that the rubbish is mobile. I mean, if I see a pile on the nature strip looking forlorn as it awaits its fate, I make my way towards it and slow down to scour. A stranger’s junk is a treat for the eyes and imagination: as discarded browned teddy bears moss alone, in these deserted streets.  

Sigh. Never have I ever missed going to the gym more than I do now. I always thought that the gym was such a sanitised exercise experience. But it was structured, and I could whip in and out and get it done. Tick to self-care.  

Sure, it is lovely to go for walks. Autumn in Melbourne is magical. Most days feel like a Sunday afternoon. At about 5 pm, chimneys start their day as smoke threads down suburban streets. I pass people walking dogs, sharing chats and pats. Tomorrow’s artists have chalked today’s art across the pavement. I smile and pass on, taking with me their rainbowed reminders to stay safe.

This time feels collegial. We are all in this together. But my walk is less exercise and more, an ambled weave through here and there, distracted by Corella’s screeching and cats loitering in yards – just out of arm’s reach. My gym visits were what kept me in line and kept my waistline from folding in on itself. 

I have learned over the years that the benefits of exercise aren’t just about weight control.

Exercise has helped with my mental health and strength training has been linked to the reduced chance of bone density loss (osteoporosis) in later life. There are so many reasons to move. So how does one stay motivated to exercise in this COVID-19 world?

I can’t run. Ol’ Gertie has dust and glass where her knees once were.

I live in a shoe box, so there isn’t a great amount of room to channel my home girl Jane Fonda and aerobicise (although I wish there was, I love to bust a move).

I did the only thing a girl can do in these times – I pimped out my home ‘gym’ routine with some discarded household items.

Case in point: bricks in a pot

Have you tried bricks in a pot? This neat ensemble comes in at 17.5 kilograms. The handles provide grip for a less-than-perfect at home deadlift. The pot works with both traditional and Romanian styles of lift. Try upping reps to compensate for a reduced weight if you are used to a high-brick setting (is she kidding right now, I can hear you say…)

Variations on bricks in a pot include:

  • Bricks in a bag: perfect for bent over rows or an overhead press.
  • Bricks in a bag on a shovel: great for bicep curls (variation on the question above: is this a pisstake?)

Don’t have any bricks handy? Anything with an even distribution of weight should work. I have varied my routine with the following items discarded in my backyard:

  • Rusting umbrella holder found in bush: this is such a handy allrounder. I’ve used this for an awkward goblet squat, chest press, overhead press, and one arm row.
  • A 20-kilogram bag of sand: glute bridges baby, glute bridges.

Now, to answer all your questions such as: is she for real; that all sounds crazy; surely you are taking the piss?

Sadly, I am not. There is no taking of piss here. Do I look crazy doing it all? Probably. But as far as I can tell, no one is watching. So remember – you do you in this crazy COVID-19 world. Go for a walk, flex some muscle and don’t forget to stretch.

DISCLAIMER: Please exercise safely and cautiously. Bricks and bags of sand may not suit your exercise regime so don’t try this at home kiddies. Leave it to Gertie to do the heavy lifting.

All photos by Gertie P.

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