Survival Guide to Middle-of-NoWhere Workouts

The end is quickly approaching. And as at the end of most things, those who lived through said things wish to impart their learning on those who may come next. With just 32 days left before I board a plane with a one-way ticket to mainland Africa, I have the desire to share my some of my copious wisdom of island living with the broader world, aka you, my reader.

Should you ever find yourself on an island with no gym, no Pilates/yoga/barre classes, no Dick’s Sporting Goods or Walmart or Target and yet you would still like to maintain your workout regime, never fear!

A couple posts ago I wrote that I had been doing workouts with the Nike Training Club App. Unfortunately for me, most of the workouts require dumbbells, a medicine ball, a step, a stability ball or all of the above. It has taken several months of cajoling island friends (really just one friend) to do some projects, but I am happy to say that with one month left I now have all the items I need to complete a Nike Training Club workout with style. Here’s what you’ll need.

10-20 lb dumbbells


How to make 10-20lb dumbbells:

  1. Eat through four cans of oatmeal. (Small powdered milk cans will also suffice).
  2. Fill cans with concrete.
  3. Before concrete dries, connect two cans with a piece of rebar. Repeat for other two cans using a similar-sized piece of rebar.
  4. Let dry.
  5. Voilà. Dumbbells.

These are essential in almost all of the workouts. From sumo squats with arm press to the above pictured single leg deadlift with dumbbell row, you will need these!

2-4lb dumbbells


How to make 2-4lb dumbbells:

  1. Drink two 0.5 liter bottles of water.
  2. Fill empty water bottles with concrete.
  3. Let dry.
  4. Use.

While none of the workouts actually call for dumbbells this light, but when I first began the workouts there was no way I was lifting 10-20lbs repeatedly. Even today after 5 months of pretty constant workouts, some of the front raises and plank raises still get me. For those cases, I have my light weights.

Medicine Ball


How to make a medicine ball:

  1. Go to the rocky beach outside your front door.
  2. Find a relatively round/oblong rock.
  3. Weight can vary based on strength. Get a bigger rock when you get stronger.

I have used this approximately 20lb rock for toe touches, full extensions (pictured above), suitcases, Russian twists, push up with feet on medicine ball, etc. I am always slightly apprehensive that my sweaty hands will lose their grip when the “ball” is directly over my head and my housemate will discover me in a pool of my own blood with a cracked skull hours later. If this is my last post…that is probably what happened. HOWEVER, it’s a porous volcanic rock and not a smooth ball, so the grip is actually quite good.



How to make a step:

  1. Find a carpenter.
  2. Tell him you want a bench for washing clothes.

While not in every workout, the step does come in very handy giving more cardio and exercising the calves and even triceps, when doing dips with legs straight.

Stability Ball


How to make a stability ball:

  1. Find an old, rusty barrel.
  2. Turn it on it’s side (pictured above).

I admit, this was the most difficult. This old barrel has stood in the corner of my roof since we moved in. It was always covered in spider webs and placed behind building materials. It took me months to see it’s potential.

I tried other things, like a plastic chair, the wall, and settled doing crunches to attempt the same muscle exercises. Then I arrived back on the island after a two-month hiatus and BAM! it hit me like a rock medicine ball. Use the old, rusty barrel! Technically, I suppose, the barrel doesn’t have to be rusty. But the stain it leaves on my skin after a hard workout makes me feel more accomplished.


There you have it. Now you too can keep up with your workouts no matter where in the world you find yourself (as long as that place has cans, rebar, concrete, water bottles, rocks, carpenters and old, rusty barrels). You are welcome.

Categories: Clove Island | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Survival Guide to Middle-of-NoWhere Workouts

  1. Dad

    I love this.

  2. corky

    My morning laugh—2 thumbs up

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