But I Digress… Keeping Fit in Trying Times

Fargo, North Dakota.

So this week’s feature can be called “Untravel Tuesday.” While COVID-19 is up ticking through much of the country, it has been trending downward in North Dakota. One of the things I missed most over the last few months is daily attendance at the fitness center for my cardio and weight classes. The center I regularly use in Fargo is Total Balance. They offer physical therapy as well as a workout area and exercise classes. I’ve been a member since 2008. Though their physical therapists have been available by appointment, until recently, the center was closed to members. The instructors, however, like many around the country are offering online classes. Now that they’ve re-opened, class sizes are severely restricted with online first-come, first-served signup. In conjunction, they are broadcast via Facebook Live for those who prefer to continue to workout from home.

During their closure to members, though, I needed something at home to continue my workouts. Unlike most centers, the owners of Total Balance offered to loan members whatever weight equipment they might wish to use at home until the center reopened. For the cost of a held check that would be shredded upon return of the equipment, I borrowed a bench and a barbell set. I didn’t want to subject the carpet in our spare bedroom/office to the stress of daily exercise for Lynn and myself. I had some boxes of engineered hardwood flooring left over from a remodeling project a few years ago.  I put one box of flooring together and that worked for a while, but since I didn’t glue the floor (hoping we wouldn’t have it long), it would slip apart at the joints during exercise. I finally decided it was time for a project.

The opening photo shows off the completed floor that was built for about $20 using flooring I already had. Looking online, 20 sq feet (1 box) of laminate flooring is available for $20-25 or so. The photo below shows the underside and lists the tools and parts needed to complete the project. Your mileage may vary. Regular hardwood flooring might work but it is usually much thicker, heavier, and would make the floor far less portable. Also, finding J-channel or other border material would be more of a challenge.

1 box (approximately 20 sq ft) laminate or engineered hardwood flooring
1 bottle of wood glue (to secure each plank of flooring together)
1/2-inch J-channel to trim around the edge of the floor
1/2- to 1-inch composite trim to reinforce the floor underneath
Duct tape (because you can’t build anything without duct tape)

Tape measure
Multi-tool or small hand saw to cut the J-channel and trim
Hot glue gun and glue sticks to fasten the trim and J-channel to the flooring
Putty knife only needed if you get messy with the hot glue gun and need to scrape up glue after it hardens (don’t get any on the carpet.)

I probably over-engineered the trim support. They only had 1/2-inch flat composite trim, so I doubled-up each row of trim. An 8-foot section was only $2.47, so I figured more was better. The purpose of the trim isn’t for support or to keep the floor from bending like a floor joist system would. It’s simply insurance that the stresses on the floor as it’s being used don’t cause the floor joints to separate. Using several rows distributes the support across the floor span and makes the floor section more stable when it’s picked up and moved around.

I put the J-channel around the border after I installed the support trim pieces. When you cut the trim, be sure to cut it short enough to allow the bottom of the J-channel to fully slide onto the edges of the floor. I finished the project by putting a couple of layers of duct tape over each of the trim pieces to ensure that carpet fibers didn’t find their way under the trim to be pulled out if we lifted or moved the floor. If you have any questions about the project, leave them in the comments section. It took longer to visit the store and find the desired trim pieces than it did to put the project together.

When the Total Balance re-opened and I knew I’d be returning the bench and weight set, I went online and ordered my own set. Now I have the option of working out at home using online training or heading to the center to use the machines. I’m not ready to attend classes in-person again, but I am going at least twice a week to work out on machines being careful to wipe down each piece of equipment with disinfectant before and after I use it. The workout areas haven’t been crowded at all allowing me to select equipment that is greater than “socially distant” from other members also working out.

I know this topic is pretty far away from the usual Travel Tuesday or even my typical digression, but these are unusual times. Stay safe and follow your jurisdiction’s guidance for your own health and safety.

John Steiner

2 thoughts on “But I Digress… Keeping Fit in Trying Times

  1. Never in my life have I digressed… Oh sorry of course I was digressing. I mean not digressing. Uh this is complicated 🙂
    Nothing wrong with over engineering if it doesn’t cost an arm an a leg.
    I am a squash player cousin (or is it father) to your racquetball. I was a squash player before Covid 19 not allowed currently – maybe I must built a squash floor…

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