My Street Workout: The Downtown Detroit (Primal) Lunchtime DecathlonTuesday, July 7, 2009
I had posted this “ghetto workout” video because I could identify with it. It mimics many of my own workouts. Sorta. The strategy, as the men in the video have shown, is to make use of whatever surroundings you have available to develop a fitness workout using the various tools in that environment. It’s not only a welcome break from the ho-hum isometric-style exercises in the gym (blah!), but it’s also more akin to functional fitness. Gym rats may occasionally be buff, but they are rarely fit. Street-type workouts, such as the kind that I do, can include speed/sprints, agility, core work, power, plyometrics, sustained aerobic efforts, and bodyweight exercises. It’s an eclectic mix, and my exact routine depends entirely on what I feel like doing that day. No plans, no strict route, no strategy. I’m just having fun and enjoying being outside on a workday.
You see, I have this wonderful opportunity to work out on weekdays, any time from late morning to mid-afternoon. The building I work in is located in the dead center of downtown Detroit, a place which bustles on weekday afternoons. Thus I have the perfect starting point. I am very fortunate that I have the flexibility to take off for an hour to an hour-and-a-half and get my workouts in. I have been doing this particular workout for four years. I jokingly refer to it as my lunchtime decathlon. The only limit I set is that I do not do this workout when it hits above 88-90 degrees. I’ve done it in November, and in the rain, but 90 degrees in the afternoon sun is a bit of a stretch.
Each downtown workout of mine is different – no two are ever the same. But they are all essentially interval-based. My interval times differ each time out, depending on how I feel, what I did the day before, and how much time I have to play around. As I said, I never plan or strategize ahead of time. I usually make up my mind as I head to the locker room or out the door. Also, I venture into various areas of downtown and the surrounding areas so that I keep things interesting and new, and I never get bored. Following is a photo tour of what a typical lunchtime decathlon might look like. I do this workout routine from one to three times per week, depending on the weather, my work schedule, and all of my other workouts and activities.
The first thing I might do is head toward East Jefferson and aim for the trail along the Detroit River. I get a good view of Windsor, Ontario (above) and head down toward General Motors World HQ.
If the fountains aren’t too crowded I’ll run agility through them, from end to end.
Along the way there are many cement seating areas where I can do jump training, or plyometrics, to develop explosive power and lower body strength. The toning effects that go along with that are pretty good, too.
Then I run along one of the river walk detours, usually sprinting on the uphill bridges.
Then I head toward Hart Plaza where there are lots of obstacles and tools for plyometrics and power intervals.
Then I am back on the river walk, headed the other way toward Joe Louis Arena.
Along the way I do plyometrics on the cement blocks that line the trail, which differ in height. I do forward jumps, side jumps, and occasionally, backward jumps on the shorter blocks.
Here are some more plyometric tools. I’ll do many repetitions of jumps on and off these blocks.
Then I head to the street behind Cobo Hall where I do some short sprints and walk a bit after each one to recover.
After doing sets of explosive plyometrics, I’ll jog backwards up the short, grassy hills, with my weight on my toes, to work the hamstrings and calves.
Then I do a high-speed sprint toward the Cobo steps.
Then I light up the stairs. These steps are wide and low, so I do two at a time, powering and sprinting my way up at 100% effort. At the top, there is usually a horde of employees sitting outside eating their lunch, looking at me like I am some kind of a nut. I am just warming up for the next set of stairs I will encounter.
Then after several stair intervals I do several hurdle jumps.
Sometimes I have an audience. The cops will occasionally park and watch me. Sometimes I get a whistle or two (it’s my legs). It sure beats a taser.
Then I head toward my favorite destination – Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings.
Stairs, glorious stairs. There are eighteen sets of stairs all the way across.
Sometimes I run the entire set, sometimes I sprint up at top speed and walk down (the most common way), and other times I walk a consistent pace with no intervals. These stairs are steep and challenging. And they sit directly in the sunlight, offering no shelter from the afternoon sun.
Then, in between each eighteen flights of stairs (one full set), I may hit the cement plyometrics right across the road. These are fairly high, and they are difficult after a few sets of the Joe Louis stairs.
But I must say, I own these puppies. Only twice in four years have I seen others attempting to run or walk them. Both times, they gave up. It’s just me and the stairs, and the Joe Louis security team watching me.
Then I ditch into the woods at the riverfront. I do running plyometrics on these high rocks.
Then at the end of the river walk, I hit this plyometric playground. I usually sprint the whole thing, in a circle, and then do plyometric jumps from level to level, and back down again.
Then I may do a light jog all the way back toward the GM world headquarters.
Then I run a long sprint down this empty corridor, off the river walk, heading back toward Hart Plaza.
There are several zig-zag paths in this area, and I run them at about a 60-70% effort.
Then I head down into the Hart Plaza bowl to run those stairs. These are wide, not-so-steep stairs that beg to be tackled two at a time, in long strides at full power.
I’ll blast up one end and walk across to the other side and jog down. I’ll typically do 5 – 10 sets of these. I typically attract an audience of homeless guys.
Then I do a few sets of the higher stairs in the middle of the bowl, and I run back through Hart Plaza to do some jumps on those cement planks in the center.
Then I drop down into the “gallery” and run stairs that go every which way.
Then I run back through a maze of brick trails and do a few sets of plyometrics on these cement benches, along with some push-ups.
Then I head toward East Jefferson, back to the office.
I wind down by doing a slow jog or fast walk through this quiet section.
No, that police wagon is not waiting for me. Then I take a sharp left to my favorite plyometric section. First some power jumps using the bench.
Then the made-for-me plyometric boxes.
In all, there are thirty-five of these, meaning thirty-five more jumps for me.
Then I cross East Jefferson.
And do some agility moves through the barrels.
Then I arrive at the office.
And step inside. Another great workout finished. Shower and back to work.