Refresh Your Health Pools With This Weird Piece of Plastic Junk

For no reason that I can think of offhand, you may be wondering how to stay fit now that you’ve been sent home from work.

(In this scenario you are lucky enough to have a job that can send you home, and also fortunate enough to be able to contemplate an exercise routine.)

I swore I wouldn’t become the guy who talks about his workout but as someone who already works where he lives, I do have this one weird trick some of you may find useful.

If you don’t have the room or dough for a full-sized exercise bike, head to your online retailer of choice and type in “mini exercise bike” or “portable exercise bike” in order to own a cheap piece of plastic junk like the one pictured here.

As you can see, durability is not its strong point. The onboard timer on this one crapped out about a year in. The straps that keep your feet in the pedals have long since been replaced by generations of duct tape.

But if you pull up a chair, slide your feet in, and are ready for a bit of annoying wiggling around to keep it in position, bingo, you’ve got all the benefits of a fancy schmancy exercise bike.

I use the interval training system, the stop-start method of one minute fast and strenuous, alternated with one minute slow and leisurely. Over the last few years I’ve had bizarrely great results with it. As I am not a doctor or a fitness coach, I’ll leave you to research the details of interval training from people who are.

My whole routine, timed to songs, goes like this. For warm-up and warm-down, I pick songs between 3:30 – 4:30 long, except for the fast songs to cycle to, which can be any length as long as they add up to eight minutes.

One arm warm-up

One leg warm-up

One song of vigorous arm exercise

Eight minutes of interval on the bike, alternating fast and slow in one minute intervals

One medium tempo warm-down

One slow tempo warm-down

I use a phone app to time the shifts between intervals. There are a bunch of them out there. The one I use is the aptly named Interval Timer.

If you can stand my taste in music, I have a whole bunch of Interval training playlists on my Spotify account. Because I am a game designer, I have numbered them so I can pick one at random each morning. Here’s an example:

I find it much easier to talk myself into doing this routine than general aerobics. Yes, that’s what I’m saying, it is easier and gets better results than anything I’ve tried before. The biking even somehow gives markedly better results on the arm stuff. And while this paragraph makes it sound like I have purchased an interest in a mini-bike manufacturer. I assure you that I have not.

In particular I find this routine easier than calisthenics because, once the arm exercises are done, I can look at my phone the rest of the time, countering the WELL-DOCUMENTED MIND-NUMBING BOREDOM OF EXERCISE.

With interval training you are supposed to rotate days of not doing it. I am a non-stickler on this bit, usually knocking off on the weekends.

If you are anything like me you may also be happy, as we hunker down in our enclosed spaces for the coming rough patch, to have a way of offloading useless stress adrenaline. There are only so many beers. Or so many beers you should drink in a given period, at least.

And that’s the end of me breaking character. After this is over, remember, I never told you any of this.

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