I present: the prison yard work-out!


I’m not a felon, I promise. Although, I have a parking ticket that needs to be paid .

I owe Dan for the ever clever name, “prison yard” workout. I started these work-outs about two years ago when I had very little time to hit the gym or go run. Dan’s job for our first two years in New York was really rough. He’s a pilot that and had just come off of active duty military status so this was his first job as a civilian pilot. Due to client needs, Dan worked almost every weekend, long days/evenings during the week and he was still meeting drill requirements as a reservist. I too, started a new job and we were struggling because there was no work/life balance. Exercise was on the bottom of my list.

I used to be one of those people who would just not work out at all if I couldn’t do  EXACTLY what I wanted for as long as I needed. If I wanted a 3-4 mile run, plus time for weights, but I only had 25 minutes – I just skipped it all together. If I couldn’t make an hour long fitness class – I just skipped it all together. I know a lot of people struggle with this mentality and really it is just about expectation management. I finally realized that I would be way too sedentary if  I didn’t become more flexible with how I exercised. Around this time my weight was starting to climb up a bit. My pants don’t lie. My office was doing free health screenings and I was pretty surprised when I saw my weight. All the more reason to adapt to our new schedule.

This is all I need:

I’m not actually using broom sticks and cinder blocks for weights! What I do have in common with those working out in the “yard”, is that I’m working with the limited time and resources I have. I would leave work, pick the kids up from daycare, and while they played on their play set or rode scooters in the driveway, I got to work. The kids even taught me some new moves they learned in PE class and exercised with me. I would spend about 20-25 minutes outside and then we would head in for homework, dinner, showers and end of the day melt downs. 🙂

The types of exercises I do in case you are looking for ideas.

  • hammer curls
  • bicep curls
  • bent over rows
  • tons of mountain climbers
  • squats
  • overhead press using a medicine ball
  • planks with leg lifts

I’m not laying out a full plan because I’m not a trainer and because I just use a group of basic exercises and shift between them in whatever way keeps me moving. The trick is I go non-stop for 20-25 minutes. I know most would say to have a very strict plan with a set amount of reps and sets, but that just doesn’t work some days. I also sprint from my driveway to the stop sign on our street where I can still see the kids. I’m pretty sure my neighbors wondered what I was doing running back and forth in front of my own house. It’s a very short distance, but sprinting really adds to the intensity and I noticed a huge improvement in my speed after a month.

I have had more time for running lately, but I still like to “prison yard it” so that’s what I did yesterday. 37 degrees and a little windy.


Instead of sprints, I did the mountain in our neighborhood. Pictures don’t do it justice.


It is just under a half mile of straight UP! I took the dog for a walk to start my warm up then walked down the mountain and tried my best to run/walk it. Here is my base line for running this thing:


I will improve. After the mountain, I ran a small loop in my neighborhood that has a small hill. Much better.


The next time you think you don’t have enough time to work-out and run, think of your own way to create a prison yard work-out. Your neighbors may think you’re weird, but do you really care? 🙂


What are your favorite quick exercises?

Any tips for me on hill runs or how to tackle my mountain?







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