Quarantine has proved that I am, if nothing else, incredibly dumb.
Before that declaration of idiocy spurs you to find something else to read, take a moment to hear me out. Usually, we at Men’s Health advise that you only listen to the brightest, most knowledgeable experts and emulate what they do for the best possible results. But you can also learn by seeing someone do something really stupid, then endeavoring to do the exact opposite yourself. This story is an example of the second scenario.
Since I’ve been sequestered indoors, I’ve used my dog for workouts, cut my own hair (although that’s not out of the ordinary for me, I don’t usually shave it all off), did a handstand challenge wearing a weighted vest, and pierced my own ear using stuff I had lying around my apartment. These were all slightly silly or potentially risky actions I took to stave off the tedium of being stuck inside, without the normal mechanisms or ability go anywhere but the next room to relieve stress. While I’m reminded every day that even taking a walk outside on the Brooklyn streets could potentially expose me to a deadly virus, my apartment has become a safe haven where I feel like harm cannot befall me, even while a national emergency rages just outside the door in the hot zone of the pandemic.
That’s all to reiterate that I’m a dumb man, and instead of appreciating this sensation of safety and staying as cautious as possible both indoors and outside, I continued to push the envelope until I smashed through the proverbial seal, putting myself and my household at even greater risk. All it took for me to do that was one moment of carelessness with a resistance band.
Exercise has been my main form of stress release during the quarantine, and I’ve taken MH‘s advice and adjusted my routines to adapt from the gym to the gear I have at my disposal at home. I have some adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells, but I’ve been doing most of my training with resistance bands. The other day, I wanted to add face pulls to my upper body split, which meant that I needed an anchor point. Rather than looping the band around a door frame, or just using the door itself, I took a calculated risk and looped the band to an old metal coat hook I had hanging on my door. I had done the move on the rig before—and last time I did, my partner warned me that the hook was going to break. I naturally ignored her, feeling like nothing bad could possibly happen inside my apartment. This was my safe base, after all.
I pulled the band back, and as soon as it reached the full extent of its tension, the hook broke and the band snapped back, flinging the hook directly into my face. I felt like I had taken a punch directly on the chin and fell back onto my couch, spitting out blood.
Once my mind settled, I was able to determine that I was supremely lucky. My teeth were all intact, and the hook had blessedly missed my eyes. But there was a lot of blood, and I could feel the cuts in my mouth. I felt like I had a hole in the skin just below my lower lip, which I confirmed by squirting water directly from my mouth through the hole when I rinsed it out.
I had to leave my apartment to rush to an urgent care facility for stitches. I had become the dreaded #WorkoutFail—but worse, I felt like I had failed the most important directive New Yorkers had been given in the midst of the crisis: to stay home from emergency facilities avoid overtaxing the healthcare system.
Thankfully, it was already late evening, and the urgent care office was empty. The provider laughed before she stitched me up, after I sheepishly told her how I was injured. She said that she had watched a compilation of home workout fails on TikTok just before her shift, and told her mother that accidents like the ones on the screen—accidents like mine—were the reason she needed to keep going to work.
I escaped the incident with two stitches in my chin and a massively wounded ego, so in the grand scale of current events, I’m very lucky. I’m still nervous that I had to go to urgent care in the middle of the pandemic, but that’s a worry I’ll have to manage along with everything else.
But I know that I’m far from the only person trying to adjust their workout plan to new circumstances. Men’s Health has shared a ton of options for people to train at home using the equipment on hand, but my accident reminds me that we need to also share some guidelines you should follow to stay safe while you’re staying fit. More than anything else, remember that just because you’re inside, you’re not immune to something going wrong—whether you slip up on form or have an equipment malfunction, you should be just as careful as you’d be anywhere else.
How You Can Avoid Hurting Yourself Working Out at Home
Don’t do exercises on furniture or equipment that isn’t designed to bear weight without testing its stability first.
You don’t want to find out that your kitchen island can’t hold your weight in the middle of a set of dips.
Avoid putting all your weight on your door frames.
Not all doorways are meant for pullup bars. Make sure yours is up to the task before setting up a rig. Don’t just screw equipment into drywall, either—make sure you find studs before putting anything on your walls.
Make sure chairs are always on a stable surface.
We’ve shown you how to do inverted rows or pullups with two chairs and a broom or shovel. Make sure those chairs are on solid ground before you get yourself underneath to start pulling.
If something feels unsteady, stop.
This should be obvious, but you might feel confident pushing your limits to get to your workout. Don’t. This advice goes for form too—if you have to change up the way you usually do an exercise to work with the equipment you have on hand, that’s a sign you need to find a new piece of gear.
Don’t try any tricky new moves in a small space.
Want to hop on the #handstandchallenge, but you don’t have the basics down just yet? Maybe you shouldn’t go upside down for the first time next to your kitchen table. Make sure you know what you’re getting into by checking out a how-to guide, then find enough space (away from your most fragile furniture) and get to it.
If you run outside, make sure to follow safety guidelines.
Make sure that a run outside isn’t risky for you—or anyone else around. Follow these tips to run the right way.
Don’t pull on metal coat hooks.
If nothing else, my dumb mistake should teach you this one.