Guest post by Elaine Hirsch
Working out can be overwhelming for many people. Stepping into a weight room, you'll find a plethora of weights, machines, and contraptions which can cause more confusion than the training they provide. Today, a shift towards working out with less equipment and free-flowing techniques, such as Zumba are becoming prominent. Another source of inspiration comes from the workouts used by prisoners, where according to Criminology Degree, the number of prisoners continues to increase year-over-year.
With little to do yet many spare hours to occupy oneself, a mental rigidity towards the training of your physical body is a natural outcome of this harsh environment. The best inspiration for creating a rock-hard body is staying alive. Borrow this mindset from the inmate and you will begin to sculpt a healthy body.
The best part of the prison inspired exercises is that they are all weight bearing. Meaning, one does not need barbells, dumbbells or big costly machines to create a solid steel body. These exercises use one’s own body weight and a space range of no more than 3' by 5.'
Find a sturdy bar that is higher than your own head and grasp tightly. Let your arms straighten as you hang. Then, slowly pull your chin up to meet the bar. Be sure to keep your elbows close to your body when you bring your chin up to the bar.
Sit on the floor with your legs in front, knees bent and feet on ground. Place each hand on floor alongside your buttocks with fingers pointed straight ahead. Situate yourself so you can lift your body up so only your hands and feet are touching the ground. With arms slightly bent, dip your body down and then up as you straighten arms.
Standing, bend knees and place hands on ground as if you are in a crouching position. Jump straight up and upon landing immediately resume the starting position. Attempt to touch the ceiling on your jump. Attempt to become as small and tiny as possible on your crouching position.
The classic push-up must be a part of the prison inspired workout. If you ignore all other upper body exercises, do this one every day. Push-ups work all the muscles in the back, chest and arms so daily sets of about 15 reps will work wonders for one’s state of rip-ness.
Yoga has given the exercise world some pretty great things but the Plank may be the ultimate exercise of all times. Begin the Plank as though you were attempting to do a push-up but do not dip down. Alignment is everything with the Plank so aim for a totally straight body in which your buttocks are not higher than your back or dipping towards the floor.
When one’s body is tended to, one’s soul becomes calmer and more at peace. The prisoner knows all too well the soul searching that is undertaken during those long periods of isolation. Carve out time every day to experience this soul work. Isolate yourself from the world around you, if only for 20 minutes. Finally, take time to give thanks for the freedoms you do have to do these workouts in your own space.