Today I completed 52 weeks of Mark Lauren’s fitness program, “You Are Your Own Gym.” In real time I actually started the program over a year ago – about 58 weeks. As described in detail on my fitness page, one highlight of Your Gym is all of the workouts are performed using bodyweight exercises – without ever having to step foot into a gym.
This fitness post will provide some insight on the past year, some of the challenges and successes I’ve had, as well as some reflection and thoughts for the future.
I’ll start with why it’s taken ~58 weeks to complete 52 weeks of training. Over this period I’ve skipped/missed perhaps 10 individual workouts out of a total of 228 scheduled. In addition to missing those entirely, I’ve also had some inconsistent or down periods, during which it might have taken me two weeks to complete one week of scheduled workouts. In two instances I’ve fallen off the workout train completely for a week or 10 days. Finally, I’ve also taken a week break a few times in between cycles, which brings me to about 58 total weeks.
Other than these exceptions, I’ve followed the program essentially to a T since I started.
Your Gym provides an exercise program at four increasingly difficult fitness levels, and for each fitness level the program is organized into a 10-week cycle. The levels are:
- Basic Program (Beginner)
- 1st Class (Intermediate)
- Master Class (Advanced)
- Chief Class (Elite)
I chose to begin using Your Gym at the intermediate difficulty level. After this 10-week cycle I moved up to the advanced level, which I completed three times. Finally, after three cycles at the advanced level, I decided – a bit reluctantly – to move up to the elite level. I’ll admit I struggled my first time through the elite program – mostly because of the intense difficulty, but also in part to a somewhat inconsistent exercise routine over that period.
In total, 10 weeks of intermediate, 30 weeks of advanced, and 12 weeks of elite (I’m now two weeks into my second cycle through the elite program) brings me to 52 weeks. These are the results:
Throughout the first several months of the world adventure I was pretty consistent. I missed a couple of workouts here and there, but those were few and far between.
The biggest problems started occurring in India. I spent the first couple of days in shock but still managed to get at least one workout in. After that I promptly got sick from food poisoning which put me out of commission for a solid five days. After getting better and traveling to Dharamsala I got back on track; however, after leaving Dharamsala I had about five days of intense traveling, capped off by getting sick again on my way to the UK. Once again I was on the shelf for a week.
Finally better after a week in the UK I resumed my routine, but leaving the following day I started on another ten days of really fast-paced travel, during which I only managed to squeeze in one or two workouts.
This was the lowest point of the year for me fitness-wise. Moving constantly is tough in itself, but feeling weak and pretty not fit had me down.
I finally arrived in the countryside outside of Granada, Spain, where I’d be working on a property for two weeks and would have plenty of extra time. So I conducted the human body experiment: see what would happen if I worked out for 14 consecutive days along with five square meals a day.
I did exactly that: 14 days of intense exercise and eating like a horse. I’m afraid I wasn’t able to capture any truly comparative before-and-after photos, but I can say that these were two serious weeks with solid results. Having lost at least 10 pounds since arriving in India, I was able to bring my weight back up slightly and was feeling strong and healthy. This also completed my first elite-level cycle.
Promptly after leaving Granada I basically quit working out again through Tarifa and Morocco until arriving in Poland. Considering I’d finished my first elite cycle I felt like I could use a bit of a break and wasn’t too worried. However, by the time I left Morocco I could feel the progress I’d made slipping and was anxious to get back on it.
So, having started a new 10-week cycle in Poland and kept a consistent schedule through Prague, I now find myself in Linz, Austria, just having finished my last workout of week 2, my second time through the elite-level program. And I’m pumped.
There are a few things I’d love to do in addition to my strength training that could really take my fitness to the next level. The first would be intense cardiovascular exercise, like wind-sprints, basketball or something equally strenuous, once or twice a week. The second would be to throw in an additional abdominal exercise once or twice a week, as Your Gym doesn’t put a whole lot of focus on abs. Finally, I recently learned some yoga breathing and stretching exercises, that, if I could do once a week along with my normal routine, would really augment my existing regimen. Of course, these are in addition to all my favorite sports that I miss dearly and can’t wait to start playing again once I get back stateside. Integrating all of these I feel would legitimately put me at an elite physical level. Easier written than executed, but we’ll see how things go.
It’s a shame I don’t have any pictures from before I started using You Are Your Own Gymo, as I’d really like to see the physical change I’ve gone through over the past year. But I know what I look like now, and more importantly how I feel: I’m pretty jacked and feel amazing. And if there is one thing I can say, I know that this is a program that I can and will stick with for years to come and that will help me maintain a lifetime of fitness.