A Lesson Learned from My Grandfather
I’ve been a big fan of the Tim Ferriss podcast for the last two years.
Whether he is interviewing successful CEOs, scientists, Hollywood writers or directors, Tim finds a way to pull out intriguing and inspiring tidbits of knowledge from the best in the world.
Recently, on my early morning commute driving up I-75 from Georgia to Tennessee, one question he asks all his guests stuck out to me.
What purchase of less than $100 has most positively impacted your life
In the time it takes Taylor the latte boy to whip up your venti skinny, no foam, sugar-free caramel cappuccino, most of Tim’s guests have made more than $100.
Still, everyone has an answer. I guess even the rich and famous buy things for less than $100.
As I drove closer into the Tennessee sunrise I found myself sifting through my mind: “how would I answer that question if Tim asked me?” The last thing I bought for less than $100 was Star Wars Battlefront, it impacted my life but could I count that?
Then it hit me, the only item that has had a huge positive impact on my life and oddly enough cost exactly a hundred bucks, the Chromebook I bought on Craigslist to start my podcast.
Give a Little, Get A Lot
Friends outside of the fitness realm and colleagues within it often ask me,
“How do I start a podcast?”
“What kind of equipment do I need?”
My typical response, “hit record on your computer or iPhone and start your first episode now.”
I had no equipment, no mic, no mixer, hell the computer I had (a 7-year-old Macbook) couldn’t even record a Google Hangout. What I did have was a dream and $100 of disposable income I used to buy my Chromebook.
Truth be told, if I had waited to have all the equipment, all the “right stuff”, I would have never actually started the podcast. It would be another one of those, “I wish I had,” moments in life.
We have all said things like, “oh I will start exercising tomorrow” or “well I don’t have the money to join a gym right now.”
Shhh…I’m going to let you in on a secret: free fitness is all around you.
No Gym, No Problem
My grandfather used to say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Having been born during the depression, he understood the value of saving money. Hell, he would have scoffed at the thought of going to a gym.
“Why would you waste money on something you can do outside for free?”
My grandfather may have never known the joys of deadlifting or curling in front of a mirror, but he was a farmer who at 70 hoisted 50-pound bags of feed on his shoulder like they were pieces of toilet paper. He wins the man contest.
When my grandfather was in the Air Force and his other super secret cool ass job which I can’t talk about because ya know, spy stuff, his physical fitness was based on calisthenics.
Calisthenics are bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, calf raises, planks, sit ups, squat jumps, or pull-ups.
You do not need to wait to join a gym to start your Fitness Quest. These are movements you can start doing today at home.
5 Free Fitness Exercises You Can Do at Home
Squatting is a natural human movement, yet as our society has begun to sit more, proper squat form has become less ingrained and many of us have to relearn how to properly squat.
This video here will walk you through the basic cues and tips for properly squatting with bodyweight.
As you come back up from the bottom position, make sure to keep your knees in line with your feet by pushing your knees out as if you are opening a fault line below you and spreading the Earth apart.
You can modify a push-up at the beginning and build towards mastering a full chest to ground push-up.
For an absolute beginner, you can begin with wall push-ups but most people should be able to start with an incline push-up using a counter top.
Place your hands on a counter-top, take a few steps back to put yourself at an angle making sure that your hands remain at chest level, stand on your toes and lower your chest to the counter, then push yourself back up.
These can be progressed by going from the countertop down to your couch down to a stair (or something about 6 inches off the ground) then down to the floor for a regular push-up.
Suit Case Rows
When it comes to building stronger back muscles while working out at home, if you can’t do a pull-up or don’t have a pull-up bar, you could use towels or bedsheets, by hanging them over a door knob or the top of a door.
There’s one item you should have at home that doesn’t require you pulling on towels or sheets and damaging your fabric.
Plus this item can be used anytime you are traveling on the road and in a hotel for some strength exercises, a standard carry-on sized suitcase.
Your glutes may be some of the most important muscles in your body. Strong glutes will help alleviate back pain, keep your pelvis maintain better alignment, improve posture, and aid in making your night time thrust motions more powerful.
Lie on the ground, hands at your side, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Flex your abs as if bracing to be punched.
Lift your hips into the air, while pressing your heels into the floor.
Once you’ve achieved a straight line from your knees to your chest, this is the top of the movement, squeeze your ass for a brief second and then slowly return to the starting position.
Planks are a simple and versatile exercise. They can help reduce back pain by strengthening your core, building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs, and help improve your posture.
You can plank at home, a hotel room, the park, basically anywhere you can fully extend your body, you can perform a plank.
To perform a plank, place the forearms on the ground making sure to align your elbows below your shoulders.
Keep your arms parallel to your body at a shoulder-width distance. *You may clasp your hands together here if keeping your palms flat bothers your wrist*
Plant your toes into the floor and squeeze your butt to stabilize your body. Find a spot on the floor to stare at, somewhere 8-12 inches in front of you, and maintain a neutral (flat-back) from your head to your butt.
Hold the plank for 20-30 seconds. Work your way up to longer holds week after week striving to add at least 5 seconds each time.
If you wanna know more about the plank, check out this Greatist article full of variations and common mistakes.
The Best Investment You Can Make
My grandfather never understood why I wanted to play a football video game when I could’ve gone outside and played actual football. Which leaves me certain he would scoff at the notion of paying someone to help him get “fit.”
There is one thing he said that has stuck with me through the years, “the best thing you can do is invest in yourself.”
Improving your overall health and fitness is an investment in yourself. You’re investing in a longer life, improved mood, less stress, more confidence, and so much more. This is an investment you can start today without having to open your wallet.