It didn’t happen over night, but over the years, I’ve learned to love exercise.
I’ve gone from not knowing a thing about exercise and nutrition to someone who enjoys the challenge and pain of a grueling workout, and have learned how to fine tune my eating plan so that it’s just perfect for me.
But what keeps me exercising is having fun with it.
Of course not every workout is fun (400m sprint intervals on the track will probably always be gross), but making workouts lively and interesting balances the gross ones, and really keeps me at it.
One such workout is the playing card workout.
I was probably around 5 or 6 when I started playing Rummy with the grown-ups. My dad had a tradition of taking the jokers from one deck and adding them to the deck we were playing with. So we’d have one deck with 4 jokers and one deck with none.
The deck with 4 jokers was for Rummy, while the deck without any jokers was saved for Bridge, which my dad taught me around age 8. My dad’s tradition carried forward to my own house, where we play Rummy with 4 jokers as well.
It seemed fitting then, that I’d use one such deck for this workout.
Here’s how it works:
I pick any four body-weight exercises – (squats, push-ups, tricep-dips, lunges, sit-ups, chin-ups, mountain climbers etc.) and assign one to each suit. Of course, you could do any type of exercise you like, even with weights.
My workout might look something like this:
- ♤ Any Spade card = Squats
- ♡ Any Heart card = Lunges
- ♧ Any Club card = Push-ups
- ♢ Any Diamond = Sit-ups
- Jokers are always Burpees.
I shuffle the deck, put it face down on the floor where I’m going to exercise. I flip one card over at a time. For every card I flip over, I do the exercise I picked for that suit and the repetitions are determined by the number on the card. Without resting, I flip the next card over and continue.
- So for example, 7♤ = 7 squats, and the 10♢ = 10 sit-ups
- Face cards = 10 reps as well
- Aces = 11 reps
- Jokers = 10 burpees
Flipping one card at a time, I do the corresponding exercise until I go through the whole deck. That gives me 95 reps per exercise and since I use 4 jokers, 40 burpees by the time I’m done. The deck is shuffled so you never know what’s coming.
A more advanced version might be something like this:
- ♤ = Plyometric body-weight squats
- ♡ = Curtsy lunges
- ♢ = Push-ups (or Plyometric push-ups if you’re superwoman!)
- ♧ = Chin-ups
- 15-20 burpees per Joker (knees to chest on the jump)
Setting a timer and trying to get done before your time runs out also increases the intensity. Nothing like chasing the clock! 😯
My daughter often does the card workout with me and it was quite a treat when I recently insisted that we move our reps of burpees up from 10 to 15.
Adding an extra 20 burpees to the workout doesn’t sound like much, but when you already know you’re in for a grueling 20-25min of work, 20 burpees becomes a big deal. Add sore/stiff quadriceps into the mix from the previous day’s workout… and needless to say I had a less than happy camper on my hands.
In the end she did them all like the superstar she is! 😊
I’ve created an infographic below, that you can use if you like, so if you want to save it on your computer or phone, or print it off and hang it on the wall where you work out, go ahead!