Here is my gym!

The running trail, which is about 1.3 miles round trip. It is a trail that goes through a farm, only about half of it is road. It is bordered by a bull pasture. The bulls are nice, but sometimes they get free. I have never run into one that broke out, but they do show up in my yard once or twice a year.

I like the uneven ground of running in the country. It keeps the run interesting, and makes one stay focused, in touch with the earth, and aware of one’s surroundings. Good for the ankles, too. I also like being exposed to the elements, feeling the hot sun on my skin, or running through a frozen wind.

My backyard, on the way to the outdoor kwoon. Since I am a practitioner of Wing Chun kung fu, I am incorporating exercises to help my body in that style of martial art, and gearing my workouts towards that end.

Right now my focus is stretching. I hate stretching. Stretching is the most painful exercise to me. I once completed a marathon after training on only two mile runs, and by mile 16 it hurt more to walk than to run. But even that was better than stretching!

This little torture device is for stretching my hams. I kick my foot out in front of me, and rest my heel on the board. The two boards are a testament to my improvement last fall. I could barely breathe on the first one, and after two months, I had to nail another one up. It’s now 51” high. Surprisingly, my flexibility stayed with me even after I took about half a year off. My goal this winter is to improve by two more boards. And my ultimate goal is to kick like vanDamme. Once I can do that, my training in this department is over. Thank God.

This is for stretching my inner thighs, in order to do the splits. I sit on the center brick, and put my heels behind each post on either side, then I lean forward. Right now, they are 61” apart. I improved by about 6” last fall, after starting out being barely able to breathe (all of my stretches start that way). Of course, my goal is a full split. I never thought the day would come when I could do a split, but I feel now that it is achievable.

This was originally for punches, but it didn’t work out very well – it kept bouncing back. (Yes, Bruce, sometimes boards do hit back!) So I just nailed two boards sticking out, and do a front and side kick, slowly, about 10-15 reps each leg. The front kick is 30”, the side kick is 33”. It can be agonizing. And, I have to keep my balance at the same time. Some days I can do 12 perfectly, other days by the second one I am falling down. Balance is a funny thing. Very subtle.

The post. The first thing put up back here, many years ago. This is for practicing the Sil Lim Tao on one leg. Again, agonizing, wobbling, falling down, looking like an idiot. Patience, grasshopper. Patience,  and persistence…

The bag. Luckily, I was throwing out an old futon, so I used the mattress stuffing to fill the duffel bag. Works perfectly. I put stone down beneath, so I can train on muddy days. Used for punching, kicking, blocking. Learning how to punch hard without breaking my wrist. Practice proper form.

Nay-chur. A creek winds through my yard (it’s on the left, in the shade). In the summer I see ducks, pheasants, owls, opossums, turtles, even fish.

The pull-up bars. Haven’t built or found a place for a traditional bar to use, so I just threw these up. I have never seen an article discussing this type of pull-up, but it seems alright to me. Right now I can only do three. I seem to always start with maxing out at three pull-ups: they have always been my weakest exercise. Of course, I am wearing a 60-pound fat jacket, so I have extra resistance!

This is Sylvius. He’s a stray that showed up a few years back, and I decided to keep him. I named him after the forest from which he emerged (Sylvius = Latin for “of the woods.”) He’s a survivor. He runs with me sometimes. But he’s getting old now.

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