Building a Disc Golf Home Gym, Part 1

It was the most expensive clothes rack I’d ever owned.  At about $1,100.00, it was much more expensive than all of the clothes hung and stacked on it combined.  In fact, at that time, it was probably more expensive than all of my clothes combined.  If it hadn’t been offered at the low, low price of $39.99 per month, I wouldn’t even have owned it.  Not sure if you knew this, but the BowFlex can hold a lot of clothes if you do it right.

This is the original BowFlex model I owned, minus the clothes.

This is the original BowFlex model I owned, minus the clothes.

I had just finished up the contract I had at my local health club which was about the same price per month as the shiny new BowFlex.  The health club was nice.  Great weight room, pool, hot tub, really cute girl at the counter that smiled and gave me towels.  It was great for the first two months I belonged.  Then the excuses started.  I got off work too late.  I started work too early.  It was too far away.  It was too crowded.  The girl at the counter had a boyfriend.  The list went on.

So I figured that if I could just work out at home, I’d actually stick to it this time.  Enter the first of many poor decisions, the BowFlex.  I’m a sucker for late night infomercials and this was no exception.  They really convinced me that the solution to my work out woes lay with owning the right piece of equipment.  I must have watched that 30 minute infomercial 20 times before I pulled the trigger.

It was great for the first couple of months I had it.  I was back to training regularly.  I was getting stronger again.  I felt great.  I always feel great when training regularly.  At that time in my life, I didn’t yet play disc golf.  I was firmly in the “look good naked” camp of people working out.  I hadn’t yet grasped the fact that that is probably the worst motivation for working out.  Especially since I was already dating pretty regularly.  And pretty much no guy looks good naked anyway.  We are an inherently ugly breed.

So, I went from the proud owner of a BowFlex to the not so proud owner of the world’s most expensive clothes rack.  You’d think I would learn my lesson, but over the next 20 or so years after that, I bounced back and forth between gym memberships and home equipment.  Always looking for the perfect thing that would whip me into shape and keep me feeling good.  You see, I hate working out, but I love having worked out.  It’s one of life’s cruel tests of will.

Yep, my dumb ass bought a second one.

Yep, my dumb ass bought a second one.

In that time, I’ve had two different BowFlex machines (hey, they came out with a new improved version!), a Nordic Track, a rowing machine, a Smith machine, a power rack, 2 full sets of free weights, resistance bands, and more DVDs and workout books than I care to admit to buying.  In between those were memberships to at least 4 different health clubs.  For the last 12 years, I’ve been lucky enough to work somewhere that has an incredible on site gym that’s free to use.  But even at the low low price of free, I’ve only used it off and on.

I’d train hard for a year, then slack for a year.  Rinse and repeat.  It’s kind of like my now (finally!) conquered smoking habit.  I’d start and stop and start and stop over and over until I was just sick at myself for my complete lack of self discipline.

In a previous post, I mentioned that you need to find your “why” when working out.  That’s true of a lot of things, and we’ll definitely talk about that more in the future.  But for now, I think it’s really important that you know my back ground with training so you can understand how and why I built my current disc golf centered home gym.  The first step is finding your individual “why” for why you want to train.

No home gym in the world is worth anything if it doesn’t get used.  That’s where the “why” comes in.  The second step is to commit to small, achievable goals.  This is a key point in both the actual training part as well as the building of the gym part.  We are after small, incremental, sustainable steps.  Steps that you can easily do and stick with.  Making huge, over the top commitments or purchases never works out in the long run.

You see, the first realization I needed to come to grips with is that a bunch of shiny new equipment wasn’t going to make me train.  If you didn’t lift the dumbbells you used to have, you won’t lift the kettle bells you might buy now.  If you didn’t use the BowFlex you once had, you probably won’t use the rings I will recommend you hang as part of your new gym.

Even with all this shiny equipment in our gym at work, I still only went off and on.

Even with all this shiny equipment in our gym at work, I still only went off and on.

Armed with this knowledge gained over 20 years of pain and bad decisions, I decided about a year ago to build yet another home gym.  This time, it would be one I actually used and stuck with.  I had my “why” (and I’m more committed to that every day), and I had all those years of experience doing it the wrong way.  Here at the Mind Body Disc blog, I’m going to lay out the disc golf home gym the same way I built it, and started to use it.  One small step at a time.

Here’s the first step.  It’s easy, it’s simple, and it’s free.  The first thing to do is to clear a dedicated area in your home specifically for training for disc golf.  This won’t be a multi purpose space, if at all possible.  It should be dedicated to this one, clear, specific goal.  I know not everyone has the space to do this.  I understand that some of you have significant others that won’t even allow space to store your discs let alone make space for a disc golf gym.

There are 15 pieces of training equipment in my small 4' x 8' space in my garage.

This is my 32 square foot space wedged between my practice basket and my disc storage.  It’s plenty of room!

For those people, I say do what you can.  There are too many people out there writing about fitness and nutrition that make it seem like you have to follow their program 100% or you can’t follow it at all.  One of the most important things you can realize is that something is better than nothing.  Anything you do that you aren’t doing now is a step towards improvement.  Baby steps, my friends.

Now, this space doesn’t have to be large.  Mine is a 4′ x 8′ section of my garage.  That’s a measly 32 square feet.  Trust me, that’s plenty of space.  It’s less space than that ridiculous BowFlex took up.  If you want to be fancy, you can put some flooring down.  I used something similar to this that I found at a discount in a local store and only spent $50.00 on 8 2′ x 2′ tiles.  I’m glad I bought it, but you don’t need to.  The floor works just fine by itself.

21-days-to-form-a-habit

The next step is to use that space for 21 days.  This is the time for finding your why and committing to the process.  If you don’t use an empty space for 21 days, you’ll never use any equipment.  Trust me, equipment is not going to make you use the space.  It’s you that will make you use the space.  I promise I’ve got plenty of cool things to recommend as part of the finished project.  For now, just get your space sorted out.

What do you do in this space for the next 21 days?  Mobility and soft tissue work.  Disc golf, at its core, is moving your body through space.  Functional strength is the same.  Fitness that will benefit you in both disc golf and real life has this at its core.  Odds are you’ll never have to bench press your way out of a jam.  You’ll never have to curl your way to safety.  You won’t ever have to French press a golf disc.  But you will have to get up off of the ground.  You will have to run.  You will have to lift things off of the floor and put them up somewhere.  You’ll have to take those things down and put them back.  You might even have to climb a tree to get one of your discs.

Mobility and soft tissue work are the best ways to ready yourself to train for functional strength.  Some of you may decide that that is all you need in the end anyway.  If all you did was clear a dedicated space in your home and did some basic body weight training combined with some mobility and soft tissue work 3-5 times a week, you’d be miles ahead of almost all of your competition on the disc golf course.  You’d be light years ahead of most people in this country in general.  You’d feel great too!

This is one of the items I'll be recommending you use for your mobility work.

This is one of the items I’ll be recommending you use for your mobility work.

Regular attention to maintaining positive mobility and myofascial release will keep you healthy and playing for many years to come.  It will also make sure that you don’t injure yourself while using your new disc golf home gym.  Think about it.  You can get a serious injury (tennis elbow, tendonitis, muscle pulls)just from throwing a 175 gram disc.  We have to prepare our body for what can happen when we start throwing around a 45 lb. kettle bell.  We have to start with safety first.

Another benefit is that you don’t actually get stronger while working out.  You get stronger while you sleep.  It’s during recovery that gains are made.  Nothing has helped my recovery more than daily soft tissue work.  Getting in the habit now will pay dividends long into the future.

Next week, I’ll share a simple 10 minute mobility routine that you can do every day (or twice a day, if you like).  It will have you feeling better, looser, and more pain free than you might have thought possible.  It’s amazing what the benefits are.  It will also get you ready for the first major piece of equipment I’m going to recommend you add to your disc golf home gym.

That first piece will be inexpensive and ultra versatile.  It will be the first in a string of unconventional training implements that suit themselves to disc golf like no other gym equipment you’ve probably used before.  In no time we’ll be swinging steel bells, working the rings, playing rounds with a weight vest, and all kinds of other cool stuff.  It won’t be boring, I promise!  I’m really looking forward to this and I hope you are too!

Can you guess which of these will be the first addition to your new gym?

Can you guess which of these will be the first addition to your new gym?

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Until then, find that spot in your home to clear out for training and find your “why”.  In the meantime, don’t buy any BowFlex machines and don’t go out and join any health clubs.  Spend that money on some new discs instead.  You’ll actually use those!