The world is full of opportunities to exercise, if you know where to look. I’ve exercised with a pumpkin, a snow shovel, and even while sitting on a couch. I’m the kind of person who thinks this is a compelling reason to have a baby.
In the kitchen, I’m usually more focused on what I’m going to eat next than how I’m going to sweat. But let’s face it, there’s plenty of idle time while you’re waiting for water to boil or the oven to preheat.
So I visited a kitchen that’s near and dear to my heart at God’s Love We Deliver, a New York-based nonprofit that delivers nutritious meals to folks living with severe illnesses. I’ve been a weekly volunteer at GLWD since January 2009. Most Monday nights, you can find me scooping meatballs, dicing onions, or peeling carrots, which is almost like a workout.
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But recently, GLWD let me run wild (OK, not that wild; I still had to follow important kitchen safety rules like covering my hair) for some legit kitchen exercise. (P.S. Despite the name, there’s no religious affiliation at GLWD.)
While the kitchen in the video above probably looks a little different from yours (it’s a heck of a lot different from mine!), you can still try these moves at home with a few simple gear substitutions. Here’s how to exercise in your very own kitchen.
Cradle your weight with both arms at your chest. I’m using 50 pounds of carrots—but you can grab a bag of flour, dried beans, or frozen produce if you have some handy. Sit back and down into your squat with your body weight in your heels, then push through those heels to return to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat for three sets of 12 if your weight is lightish or three sets of eight if you’re holding something heavy.
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How much more fun would exercise be if you could use giant tubs of sprinkles as weights?! You can grab bottles of sparkling water or cans of beans as well for this move. With a slight bend in the knees, hinge at your hips to lean over about 45 degrees. Open your arms wide to the sides, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, palms facing in. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, then lower back down with control. Repeat for three sets of 12.
With those same weights in hand, hold your hands above your shoulders, elbows bent. Press your weights up and over your head, coming nearly together at the top to take you through full range of motion. Lower your hands down with control, and repeat for three sets of 12.
Next I grabbed a big ol’ can of roasted red peppers; you could try this one with a gallon of milk. Hold your weight in both hands above your head. Bend your elbows and lower the weight behind your head, trying your best to keep your shoulders down and your upper arms close to your ears. Repeat for three sets of 12.
Grab your bag of beans again or another floppy weight (like my 25 pounds of flour) and drape it over one shoulder. Step the opposite leg back and lower into a lunge until both legs form 90-degree angles. Make sure the knee of your front leg stays over your front foot, not in front of it, and keep your body weight in the heel of that front foot. Press up through that heel to standing and repeat. Aim for three sets of eight reps on each side.
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This is one of my favorite functional movements. Imagine you’re lugging your suitcase through a crowded airport—but instead, it’s a giant jug of balsamic vinegar, a gallon of milk, or anything else heavy-ish in your kitchen with a grabbable handle. Walk back and forth across your kitchen for 30 seconds, then switch hands and repeat.
The beauty of incline push-ups is you can do them anywhere—not just on a cart carrying 500 pounds(!) of carrots. Prop yourself up on your kitchen counter or wall with your hands under your shoulders. Bend your elbows so your upper arms slide right along your torso until your chest just about meets the counter. Keep your whole body, including your head and neck, in a straight line. Press up through your hands and repeat. Start with 10—push-ups are hard!—and build up to three sets of 10.
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