Play time

The key to getting the most out of your club’s strength-training centerpiece: Using your imagination. Welcome to the jungle (gym).

Fitness innovation can take many forms. Sometimes, it's a brand-spanking-new piece of equipment or a game-changing scientific theory. And in other instances, results are achieved by taking something familiar, and using it in a smarter, more strategic way.

It may be one of the tried-and-true strength-training machines in the club—but you’ve never seen the jungle gym used like this before. “The jungle gym is my favorite piece of equipment,” says Joel Mayers, a Tier 3 personal trainer and group fitness instructor in Tysons Corner.“But I incorporate new things to make traditional exercises more interesting.”

Though the need for muscle confusion has been embraced by the masses, Mayers believes most exercisers are still a little stunted in their creativity. “We live in a society filled with routine habits, and our workouts fall into this category as well,” he says. “People may feel like their bodies aren’t changing, and it’s because even when they’re mixing things up, they’re not stepping outside the box. Sometimes, you have to play around to see what works and what doesn’t.”

Tired of the run-of-the-mill fare of lat pulldowns, woodchoppers and chin-ups, Mayers designed this surprising routine that torches calories as it tones. “The more muscles you can incorporate into one exercise, the more calories you burn,” says Mayers.

And the series may look like fun, but the work works—efficiently. “I am in the gym all day, every day, and I teach 5 classes a week. If I trained my clients the same way all the time, I would get bored very quickly. And my time to work out is limited, so using more muscles simultaneously allows me to get the most out of the time I have.”

Ready to revisit your recess days? Click through the slideshow above to see animated gifs of the moves, demonstrated by Mayers. Choose a light weight to start, so you can focus on form, and perform the indicated reps for each exercise once, circuit-style, then repeat 3 times.

1 / 6