Favorite Low-Tech Fitness Equipment: What's Yours?

Photo: Archangeli

So I love gleaming, high-end, technologically-advanced workout equipment as much as anyone. (And excuse me, Precor people: somehow you missed my previous subtle hint about that cute little EFX 5.31!)

Yet to access fancy expensive equipment, there's a problem: I generally have to go the gym and share the machines with other people.

See, I think that any piece of equipment I want to use should be mine, and other people who got there first should just get the hell out of the way when they see me coming!

Oddly enough, no one at the gym seems to respect my feelings on this.

So over the past year or so, I've been trying to do a few more exercises at home. I use dumbells, strappy things, stretchy things, and my own bodyweight to try to replicate the exercises I'd otherwise do on the big-ass machines at the gym. Sometimes this works fine; other times, I find the low-tech version to be either more cumbersome or less fun than the high-tech version.

But every now and then, I've been thrilled to find a convenient and cheap or free alternative to my gym-dependent options. Wanna know what one of my new favorites is?

It's modeled after the Gravitron (the machine at the gym, not the fancy glass bong or the amusement park ride), and it allows me to do dips in my very own home.

Here's a Gravitron. They cost a lot of money:

And here's the Crabitron. I got it for free, at the dump.

OK, so it only works for dips, not pull-ups, and it works best if you don't need assistance to do dips.

But it's lightweight and collapsible and you can store it under a bed or a couch! And they're easy to find used, now that so many oldsters are trading up for fancier versions with all-terrain wheels, baskets, drink holders, and racing stripes. The old-fashioned kind are often available for cheap or free at garage sales, thrift stores, dumps, or in the back closets of your own aging relatives.

Stop following me, damnit, I'm not done with mine yet!
(Photo: greg westfall)

Anyway, so here's a Crabitron exercise demonstration:

Start Here (Figure 1)

Lower Yourself Down A Bit (Figure 2)

Then Haul Yourself Back Up Again (Figure 3)


Then just repeat a bunch of times until your arms hurt like hell and you can't lift yourself up anymore.

To make it easier, I'm guessing you could also tie a stretchy band thing across the top to take some of your weight off. (Or, if you're more adventurous, you could try suspending yourself by a bungee cord from the ceiling.) To make it more challenging, I imagine you could clutch a dumb-bell between your feet, or wear a weighted backpack, or sling a German Shepard over your shoulders. But I haven't tried any variations myself, and there's a good chance that messing around with this will cause the Crabitron to topple over and send you to the hospital with compound fractures and internal injuries. So don't sue me if you want to get fancy!

NOTE: probably best NOT to try this with the kind if walker that has wheels.

So I know that the Bag Lady has cattle to rustle, and Mary at A Merry Life has her stair workout, and Geosomin has leaves to rake, and many of the rest of you have great ideas for low-tech exercises too.

So what's your favorite low-tech exercise? Have you re-purposed any odd items as exercise equipment?

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