27. Januar 2022

Exercised at home: hacking a plyo box

How to bring some hills into your home? Such to train for hiking using box step-ups when stuck at home? After surprisingly long Internet research, I finally found a compact, wooden, pretty-enough “plyo box” . Even though plyometrics wasn’t what I had in mind.

There are rather unfortunate reasons these days for staying at home, among them quarantining at home or staying home during lock-downs. Fortunately, there are also more pleasant reasons to stay at home during certain days, for example when scheduled for an on-call shift during weekends or when working remotely from home. I don’t mind these shifts, but I mind not being able to exercise!

Previously, my neighbours would wonder about that guy who ran forty short laps around the block, staying always within a minute of reaching the apartment. I don’t have such a convenient track around the block anymore, but no problem. As an engineer, problems generate work, and work is better than no work. Though we still need solutions. So how to solve the problem of not being able to exercise?

Before answering this question (to which I already hinted at the solution cough cough), let me digress briefly. Isn’t exercise unnecessary energy expenditure? I’m the wrong person to answer these questions, but having recently read Daniel Lieberman’s “Exercised: Why Something We Never Evolved to Do Is Healthy And Rewarding”, I beg you to satisfy your curiosity of the anthropological perspective on exercise by reading his book instead. So back to the concrete question, how to be able to exercise from home?

In my case, there are a few more constraints: I don’t like to have a lot of equipment because all of that equipment─let’s be honest─is going to be idle and just taking up space, most of the time. That said, if I buy equipment, it should at least blend into the rest of the furniture. A second constraint is that I want to build endurance in hiking this year. Thus, box step-ups should be a relevant exercise.

Searching for “aerobic stepper” yielded nothing useful. Only ugly, big plastic benches that belong into gyms. Wooden variants were never to be found. I searched for “plyo boxes” (boxes you use for plyometric exercises, which would also be good for me) but almost gave up because I really wanted a compact box with ~30cm height. Such a lower height seems safer in indoor spaces. I don’t want to take a misstep and send myself tumbling over my home office desk.

But persistence pays off, and I finally found a compact wooden plyo box with dimensions 30×40×50 [cm] (Sport-Thieme). By sanding off the box, and by adding some wood oil to finish, the box also looks now much less like gym equipment, and a little bit more like a piece of furniture. I’ve tested it over five sessions lasting half an hour, and equivalent to around 900m elevation gain. Whilst certainly not as pleasant as leaving home, at least I can consume online courses in the Internet whilst stepping up and down. If you find yourself stuck at home, and nothing better to do, I hope this might serve you as inspiration.