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One-Legged Workout

Alexandra Williams, MA

Even When You Can’t do a Full-Body Workout, You can Still Do a Partial-Body Workout

As some of you may know, I had surgery on my foot last week. At my post-op visit, the doc used the word “horrific” to describe my big toe joint (bone spurs, zero cartilage, bone-on-bone) when he got in there during the surgery. When the doctor uses that kind of adjective, you kind of quickly figure out you won’t be going back to your normal routine (teaching group fitness, walking in regular shoes) early. He said it takes six full weeks for the bones to fully fuse together, and that if I put any weight at all on my big toe, the screws could snap. Ick!

I am not happy, nor am I depressed, about being out of commission for at least six weeks. It’s more like acceptance and now let’s move on to what I can do. My one request to the doc was to make it so I could still teach again. I don’t want to be limited when I’m only halfway through my life. So I’m trusting that I’ll teach by the time the Fall quarter starts at the U. Until then, I am focusing on doing as much as I safely can, especially workouts.

With that in mind, I went into the back room and pulled out my (very dusty) plates and bar. Got my cool mat that Goodness Knows Snacks gave me at the Fitness Health Bloggers conference too! This is a partial list of some of the exercises I’ve been doing. If you like them, I hope you’ll give them a try.


Chest Presses
Single-leg Rows
Seated Bicep Curls
Supine Skull Crushers
Table-top Heel Taps
Single-leg Bridges
Single-leg Push-Ups
Single-leg Planks
Supine Leg Raises

Did you read that very short list and start thinking, “Wow, that’s it?! There are hundreds of exercises you could do”? I hope so, because that’s exactly what I figured out. I am limited by my foot, not by my imagination, determination or any of the other 229 joints (the number varies, depending on which joints you count) in my body. And a shout out to my new Twitter friend @ittuderevolution for sharing some of her favorite exercise suggestions.

When you can’t have something is when you really want it (remember your high school crushes?), so I hope that anyone and everyone who reads this and doesn’t want to work out takes a few seconds to think, “Hmm, I should do this today because I can. Tomorrow I might be wearing one of those ugly black booties.”

It’s not “All or Nothing.” It’s “All or Something or Nothing.” I’m limited, but not incapacitated. And I still have my sense of humor! Here’s to me! Now, I think I’ll go see about getting some toenail polish!

Have you ever been limited by your body? How did you respond?

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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20 Responses to One-Legged Workout

  1. Shira July 26, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Poor sweetie – am so sorry you have to deal with foot surgery. I know you told the doctor you wanted to be able to teach again, but you should have sprung for a couple of bionic parts while he was in there anyway. This video is so helpful and inspiring. I broke my toe a couple of years ago and couldn’t do anything except for a hand crank cardio machine that burned about 20 calories every 10 minutes and upper body weights – it took 8 weeks to heal and I was so grateful to have more mobility afterwards. i’m sending you mental chicken soup vibes. when Kymberly gets back from Mexico she better bring you more than a lousy t-shirt!
    Shira recently posted..Can certain foods help your body heal or prevent illness?My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      Thanks Shira. Well, I’m not much for the hand crank cardio machine, but I might do the rowing machine. That will burn lots of kcals. You wouldn’t know one toe could throw so much out of whack. Kymberly is supposed to bring me all kinds of delicious Rancho la Puerta food. She just doesn’t know it.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Seuss WorkoutMy Profile

  2. Tara Burner July 26, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    I feel for you girl! I’ve injured ankle/foot/toe but never surgery
    and you’ll be back teaching when its time!!!
    and YES, here’s to YOU!!!! <3
    Tara Burner recently posted..Positive thinking on Thoughtful Thankful ThursdayMy Profile

  3. Laury@TheFitnessDish July 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm #

    I’m so sorry about your foot :(

    But you are awe inspiring with keeping moving! Good luck!
    Laury@TheFitnessDish recently posted..Carob Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (Grain-Free Low Sugar!)My Profile

  4. Calla Gold July 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    I hope your recovery goes wonderfully! And great job at figuring out how to make do with what body parts are usable!

    Calla Gold

  5. AnnMarie July 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    Go girl!

  6. Tamara July 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Awesome to be so upbeat about forced time off exercise and teaching! Between the two of us, we can still get a full body workout in; you do core and upper body, I’ll do legs and butts! We could use photo shop to splice our amazing half bodies together!
    Tamara recently posted..Intercostal muscle strain: nothing to sneeze atMy Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      What a great idea. But can we do your hair? I like the photoshop plan; does humanshop exist?
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Seuss WorkoutMy Profile

  7. Kristen July 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    So glad to hear that you are in good spirits! I had a client last year who had a foot injury and she still got a good workout in. We did lots of floor exercises and was still able to keep her heart rate elevated. It’s all about creativity. I agree with you when you said to do what you can today because tomorrow you could be limited. I strained a muscle in my lower back last year and that through me off for a while. I never realized how many movements (like walking) were impacted by my lower back. The doctor said I recovered quicker than the average patient because I was already in good shape. Another good reason to do what you can today. Putting the extra effort in now could help you get through something that may happen tomorrow.

    Wishing you speedy recovery! :)

    • AlexandraFunFit July 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      So true Kristen. Not only can you get in a good workout, but being fit definitely speeds up recovery, both mentally and physically. Anyone who wants to “snap back” quickly might consider working out NOW, before anything happens. Great point you make!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..The Klout Workout: Perks & CircuitsMy Profile

  8. John Poole July 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    Wow! That’s a pretty impressive inventory of exercises / modified exercises to do while one foot is out of commission. Never would’ve thought so many were possible. And yes, your sock is cute, but you’re much cuter! Hope your foot heals up pronto! :-)

    • AlexandraFunFit July 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      Thanks, John. Pronto will be 5 more weeks. No matter how fit I am, the doc said it takes 6 weeks for bones to fuse together. But I luckily have enough strength to get myself in and out of the tub, or that sock would start to stink!
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Diets Work if You DoMy Profile

  9. Mariella Lombardi July 28, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Alexandra,

    I wish you a quick recovery and congratulations about being so determined to still do work-out. I guess most people would just stay in bed for the whole 6 weeks:) I never had any injuries of this kind but I think that doing some kind of a work-out even under these conditions is a splendid idea.

    Mariella Lombardi recently posted..My Elderly Mother is Obese but Healthy Otherwise – How Do I Help Her Lose Weight?My Profile

    • AlexandraFunFit July 28, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      Thank you Mariella. I would go crazy stuck in bed for 6 weeks. And you’re so right – “some kind of workout” is exactly what’s needed! Thanks for the encouragement.
      AlexandraFunFit recently posted..Lose 2 Pounds in 2 DaysMy Profile

  10. mercadee August 12, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    So after cardio came my weights. Now normally, I’ll take a few hours off between my AM cardio and weights when I’m doing a double header as I call it. But because my schedule limited that, I just did it afterwards. In any case, again, this week, the work is ALL DONE. My main focus in the first 3-4 days of my peak is to deplete my body’s glycogen stores, so the order doesn’t really matter in my opinion as I’m not focusing or lifting for performance. Normally if I were to do cardio, it would definitely be after.
    mercadee recently posted..No last blog posts to return.My Profile


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