Hacks for Exercise, Training, Torture: Whatever You Call Working Out

Hey!  It’s me, Team Vulcan Pickleball Pro Alex Hamner.  You may have heard that I don’t like to run.  Totally true – but I do it because it helps me compete by increasing/maintaining my endurance.  I don’t know what you might call going for a run, but I call it TORTURE.  I’ve never enjoyed, or been good at, running for the sake of running.  Maybe you like it – I know tons of people do.  But unless I’m chasing a ball, running is IMO horrible.  The only thing I find worse is swimming laps - yuck! (Hope I’m not losing friends over my unfavorable views here!)

Here's the cold hard facts though: to stay healthy I believe you’ve got to exercise one way or another.  But there are definitely those times when you can’t get on the pickleball court or get to the gym or even go for that boring run. Sadly, I have more than my fair share of those days – but I’ve come up with some tricks I call my exercise hacks and I want to share them with you.  They’re simple, quick, on-the-fly little bursts of muscle use that have helped me get and stay fit.

Now, you need to know that I’m not a doctor.  And I’ve never played one on TV! Plus I don’t even remember playing doctor as a kid, so naturally my caveat is to do your thing at your ability and call a real doctor if you have any health concerns.  Now that my little “CYA” is over, here’s my helpful hacks:

alex hamner quote january 2023

Since I assume you brush your teeth twice a day, I’m going to make a wild guess that you just stand there on your phone or leaning on the counter or watching TV or something until the chore of cleaning your teeth is done.  I used to do those things also.  But now, I do squats while brushing!  About 2 minutes of dink muscle-using squats.  It’s a beautiful thing bettering my legs (and my dinks) while bettering my breath.  And what’s sweet is you can mix it up – squat shallow or deep, with toes pointed in or out or straight, emphasize one leg at a time, maybe even travel a few feet each direction as you go up and down. And you can do it two times every day … so what you waiting for?

Here's another crazy hack I do.  When you’ve thrown something in the microwave for a quick warm up (be it your oatmeal, or your oatmeal cookie) and you’re just waiting for that beeping to let you know you can eat, do a few push-ups against the counter.  Sure, they aren’t those full-blown torture push-ups, but your arms, shoulders, core, even legs can be engaged – and suck in your gut while you’re doing them to get even more benefit. 

Ever sit on hold waiting for a “service representative” to come online?  Or maybe you’re listening to your beloved tell you some story you have no interest in. Well, now’s a great time to put that gluteus maximus to work and sneak in a workout without anyone knowing it.  Yes, I’m talking about squeezing your butt cheeks. And guess what, sucking in your tummy at the same time works wonders.

There’s other little things you can do – bicep curls with that jug of orange juice, balance on one foot at a time while in line at the post office, spend one minute going up and down some stairs every time you go to the bathroom, do heel and toe lifts until it’s your turn to check out at the grocery store.  The possibilities to up your game during every day tasks are limitless!

So those are some of MY exercise hacks for the new year – let me know YOUR ideas, I’d love to incorporate some new options into my repertoire!

#TeamVulcan Pro Alex Hamner was inducted into the Pickleball Hall of Fame in 2020, noted for her 21 gold medals from USAPA Nationals, the US Open Pickleball Championships, and Tournament of Champions. She and her partner, Jennifer Lucore, have earned more gold medals than any other women in pickleball. To ask Alex questions for her new column, Hamner's Headlines, fill out this form.

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  • Great stuff! Thanks

  • I’m quite a bit older than you, but I like to do push ups on the stairs, usually on the 3rd step up with feet on the landing. Quite useful.

    I also like joint lubrication exercises, that is, movement of joints while not under pressure. For example, lying in bed, on my back, I swing a bent leg in a large circle several times. Good for health of hips.

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