Cell Exercises to Build a Revolutionary Body
The stressful conditions of imprisonment, through its tactics of oppression and the aggressions of the prison system, not only take a toll on our minds, but on our bodies as well. Lockdowns and constant hours confined in a cell erodes our bodies through inactivity. It's important to work on our physical stamina to aid us in our struggle against this oppression and this can be seen as an effort against this tyranny, furthering our revolutionary efforts. So exercise is important and one should do some kind of exercise every day as an action against our confinement.
Here are some simple exercises that can be done in a cell or the yard and shouldn't take more than 5 minutes.
Warm-up: This is an easy warm-up to try when you feel you're not in the mood to exercise yet. Do some calf raises, they're fairly easy. Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, then get up on your tip-toes, then go back to standing normally; that's one. Do this about 10 or 20 times, or however many you feel is enough; it's a great way to get your blood flowing.
As you do these, if you want, you can hold your arms out to your sides, about shoulder level, for two counts, then straight up over your head for two counts. Then back to the start position. You can do this anywhere with any type of footwear.
Isometrics: Isometrics are when an exercise position is held for a few seconds in order to gain stamina at exercise. It's a great way to strengthen your core.
Here is a simple set of three exercises that shouldn't take more than 3 minutes to complete.
- Forward Lunge - Starting with your feet shoulder width apart, step forward with your left leg until it is in a 90 degree position in front of you, your back leg bent forward it's lower leg (or calf) parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then go back to the standing position. Next do the right leg. If you need to, between each exercise you can rest for 10 to 15 seconds, or until you have recovered. When doing the forward lunge try not to rest your hands on your leg or knee, as this will weaken it during the exercise.
- Front Leaning rest - Get in a push-up position, and sink to the floor as if to do a push up, holding yourself just off the floor (or down and hold it, as it's known) then hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Squats - Stand with your legs shoulder width apart; then bend your knees, bringing your upper torso down while keeping your back straight, until your knees are bent at 90 degrees, or what you can manage. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
During these exercises you can take small breaks of about 15 to 20 seconds in between each one, but it's best to do them one after the other, with as short a break as possible in between. If you want you can extend each exercise to 60 seconds and see if you can finish the whole set in under 5 minutes.
Quick Cardio: here are some exercises to work on your cardio. The whole set can be done in under 5 minutes.
- Push-ups - do as many push-ups as you can in 30 seconds. Later, if you want you can increase this to 60 seconds.
- Jumping Jacks - do as many jumping jacks as you can in 30 seconds, you can also increase this to 60 seconds.
- Flutter kicks - lie on your back, on either the ground or your bunk, put your hands under your hips, on either side of your spine, so that your pelvis doesn't touch the floor (the best way to do this is to ball your hands into fists). Then bring your feet up so they and your legs are about 2 inches off the floor. Lift your left leg up until it is in a 45 degree position from your body. Then bring it back down to the start position. Next do the same with your right leg. Keep alternating legs at a steady pace (like walking or jogging) for about 30 seconds. This exercise can create stress on your back, so it's best to build your strength by doing the exercise moderately before you increase the time to 60 seconds.
Remember directly after your exercises you should walk or pace around for a few minutes, or do some calf raises. This is so your body can adjust itself to having been active after being in a cell all day. Make time in your schedule to try some of these exercises. To strengthen your body is an action against the tyranny of imprisonment and a demonstration of determination against the actions of imperialism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this writer's analysis of the importance of exercise to a strong mind and body, especially when both your mind and body are under attack in prison. A physical exercise program should be combined with mental exercise of political study and struggle as well as political organizing work. Some comrades have used exercise programs as a tool for political organizing, building unity in the yard by bringing together groups to work out together and then conducting education classes after these workouts.