An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Park Bench Fitness

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Park Bench Fitness

Now that I'm well past the six-week-postpartum mark and am free to fully get back into my fitness routine, I've found that I've had to get a bit creative. Our gym's daycare center won't take babies until they're 12 weeks old, so I have quite a while until I can really get back to business. But I'm REAL tired of feeling squishy and soft from having this baby!

(What I failed to realize about having a baby is that losing the weight is the easy part. Heck, that was gone in a month! But after the extra pounds are gone, you're left with little to no muscle tone and a whole lot of squishy skin. Despite the scale reading the same, you don't LOOK the same! And that's a tough pill to swallow for a self described fitness guru like myself.)

I've been walking since a few days after Henry was born, and have recently begun to run again. While cardio is great, if I want to get rid of my "squish" I need to start to do some strength training! But how can I do that if I can't get to a weight room at a gym?

Enter the park bench.

Ze park bench. Also, fitness assistant. (Image from

I mentioned here about how I head to the lake to get a walk/run in with Henry in the mornings. I've also started to incorporate some strength moves on park benches as we pass by. The great part about this is that it can be done anywhere there happens to be park benches, and you can create various combinations to mix up your routine: ten minutes of walking, five minutes at a bench followed by five minutes of running, then ten minutes at a bench, etc. You can have a 25 minute workout or an hour++ workout.

It goes like this: Head to a park, walking/running trail, or just outside to a city sidewalk. If you have a little one, get him set up in his stroller. Get your tunes cranked on your iPod/iPhone/old school walkman. I always start with a walking warm up of five to ten minutes. After that, I stop at the first park bench. (If you have a little one with you, don't forget to put the break on the stroller! I forgot my first time, and Henry started a slow roll towards the lake... I'm a bad mom sometimes, whatcanIsay) Depending on how long Henry can tolerate not moving, I do two-to-three of the exercises listed below on said bench. Then I take off, either running or power walking, and go until either the next bench, or until the song on Pandora either stinks or is super-awesome and I want to power through some strength moves. Repeat as often as you can for the duration of your workout, mixing your strength moves in with cardio bursts.

Example moves to do on the bench:
  • Lunges up (you can power-up with a hop at the top if you're feeling super kick-ass - just watch your balance so you don't fall!)
  •  Reverse lunges off the front of the bench
  •  Curtsy lunges 
  •  Old fashioned squats (if you want to work your butt, make sure to get a least a 90 degree bend in your knees so you utilize that muscle. If you don't get at least that low, you never engage your glutes)
  •  Push ups off the bench
  •  Triceps push ups off the bench
  •  Triceps dips
  •  Planks

Afraid you'll look crazy doing this by yourself in public? Who cares! You're going to look way better than the people watching and judging you. To heck with those people. Anyone else who cares about their fitness will love to see what you're doing! In fact, after a set of curtsy lunges, I got a high-five from a fellow runner. Boom.

The weather is really heating up here in Dallas, so Henry and I have to go early if we're going to get a workout in and I need to prepare to get really sweaty (I bring water and a towel with, so it's actually super handy to have the stroller with cup holders and storage), but it's fun to spend some time outdoors and by the lake working on my tan as seen here (hey sports bra tan lines, heyyyyyy!).

It's also really fun to spend time with Henry in this capacity, too. He LOVES going fast in the stroller! And never fusses - as long as we're moving. But that's the glory of this workout. It's flexible. Got a fussy baby? Get moving with more cardio to keep her happy! Only have 20 minutes? That's cool. By yourself and want to work on toning your arms? Spend more time at the bench and less time on cardio!

Just don't spend all your time sitting on that bench... :) Happy park bench fitnessing!


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