Every time I hear someone say that they "couldn't" work out because the gym was closed, or they were out of town, or it rained, I just smile and wait for them to continue. It only takes a few seconds before they sheepishly add, "...and next time I'll do lunges in the parking lot." One (since reformed) friend accidentally confessed that she waited in her car for 40 minutes for her trainer to show up and open the gym, and then "had" to leave. I empathized, but then caught on. "Wait a second...you waited for 40 minutes?" She blushed. "I shouldn't have told you that."
Being healthy and fit is a truth, not a consequence. And for it to be a truth for you, YOU have to make it happen. In the same way, training for my obstacle course is a truth, and I have to make time for the training, regardless of whether the gym is closed, or I am out of town, or it rained. There have been plenty of times I have run or done lunges or run a shuttle drill in the rain. You're going to get wet anyway, right? At least the rain cools you off a little.
So when I looked at my morning and tried to find an extra 30 minutes to do my hurdle, sprint, and plyometric work before the gym opened, I knew where I would end up - the parking lot. I work out at a gym that shares its parking lot with a gas station, and I've gotten to know the early morning delivery men pretty well. They look out for me and wave as they bring in their snacks and sodas and bread, and I return the greeting with a sweaty nod and smile.
When I first started working out in the parking lot, I kept it simple. The length of the lot is about 50 meters, perfect for sprint drills. So I ran back and forth doing different drills, then got my homemade hurdle out of my trunk and worked with it a little. But then I started getting bored. And I started getting restless. And I noticed that the gas station parking lot was full of shiny new toys.
Well, not shiny. But you get what I'm saying.
Just take a look around the next gas station you drive into. Looks like a regular old run-of-the-mill gas station right? But look closer. Next to the pump. Down, lower. Is there a little block of concrete there? There are six of them around the perimeter of the pumps at my station, and they're great for running and jumping over, on top of, and in between.
A big block of concrete next to the air machine serves some important purpose in another life, but for me it is where I practice box jumps. Or, I take a running start and just leap on top. I'm pretty sure it isn't going anywhere.
A traffic cone has been in the exact same spot for the last six months. I'm sure it is there for a reason, but I use it to work my hip flexors, kicking my leg up and over the cone with ankle weights on to strengthen my hips and increase my flexibility.
Then I move on to a little sign advertising the entrance to a store. But, to me, it is a mini-hurdle. I've knocked it down plenty of times and startled the delivery guys. It makes a huge racket.
And parking space dividers are always fun. Jump forward and back over one, or do what I do and jump over and then onto the sidewalk. Then add one more - over, on the sidewalk, and then up to touch the ceiling.
I do this stuff every morning, and consider it my own little obstacle course. After a few rounds, Captain Awesome shows up and the real work begins. I enjoy working out with a trainer in a nice gym with machines and weights and fancy equipment, but I love knowing that a decent workout can be found just about anywhere if you look hard enough.
I sometimes wonder if I will ever run out of new games to play in the parking lot, but I'm not too worried about it. My next plan is to put those delivery guys to work.