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City as Gym: Take Back the Streets

That’s not a bike rack, it’s an ab machine.

WHERE: the Embarcadero, SoMa, Jack London Square, Downtown San Rafael.

7 Bench Hurdles (Suffer Meter: 3, Ass-Kicker): There are dozens of ways to get ripped using a bench. Find two benches near each other for over-under reps. Army-crawl under one, keeping your back flat and your abs engaged, then hurdle over the second bench by gripping the top of the bench with your hands, then squatting down and jumping over it, lifting with your hips. It combines strength with endurance and engages multiple muscle groups, so you can’t sleepwalk through it. The Long Modified Bench art installation (upper right) at the Exploratorium is perfect for this one. It makes you reconsider what’s possible with a bench—plus the ground is padded, and it’s set away from pedestrian traffic. —Pattee

8 Inverse Push-ups (Suffer Meter: 4, Beast Mode): Ah, the tried-and true push-up—which you can dress up or down for different results. Golden Gate Park has tons of scenic bench options. An inverted-T push-up will ignite your core: Start with your feet on a bench and your hands on the ground. Do a push-up; then open your chest for a side plank with one arm reaching to the sky, incorporating the core by forcing your body to stabilize. Repeat until you fall over. —Stevan Krstic, owner, Koi Fitness

9 Green-light Pull-ups (Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): Use stoplights as cues to speed up or slow down when you’re jogging along a long, flat street like Mission, stopping at each red light for a breather—and a set of pull-ups. The lowest bar on the light post is sturdy, round, and hand-friendly. This is also an easy exercise to work into your daily routine—while you’re waiting for the bus, or at each stoplight on your way to lunch. —Pattee

10 Bike Rack Dips (Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): A simple triceps dip on an empty bike rack instead of a bench allows you to sit deeper, firing up your triceps more intensely. There are a few different bike rack shapes in the city—look for the angled ones that are about hip height or the round ones, which you can grip at the apex. The Castro has a lot of them. Hold firmly with your knuckles facing out. You can modify your leg position, either bending your legs with your knees at 90 degrees (easier) or keeping your legs straight with your heels on the ground (harder). —Mike Giometti, owner, Mike’s Bootcamp

11 Battery Circuits (Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): The old military batteries at Baker Beach and in the Marin Headlands function as all-in-one circuit training centers. They’re usually empty, and the walls block the coastal wind and have ledges for free-form climbing. Plus, they offer steps for running up and bars for pull-ups or triceps dips, and they’re a stone’s throw from miles of running trails. —Esquivel

12 Pier Intervals (Suffer Meter: 2, Workin' It): Use the piers along the waterfront to curate a high intensity interval workout. Start at the Ferry Building for round one of Bulgarian split squats—think lunge position, but with your back leg elevated on a low ledge. Steadily lower down and rise back up again to work your glutes. Then do a set of one-armed push-ups on the guard rails and box jumps on the cement blocks that line the Embarcadero. When you’re ready, move on to the next pier by way of a grapevine through the crowds for your next set of intervals. —Catherine Wohlwend, Bootcamp SF

Veer off-road: Trails and trees over treadmills and weights (Exercises 1-6)
Take back the streets: That’s not a bike rack, it’s an ab machine (Exercises 7-12)
Stairways to hell: Gaining power is literally an uphill battle (Exercises 13-18)
Reclaim Recess: Playgrounds make the best obstacle courses (Exercises 19-24)
Kick up some sand: The beach as resistance band (Exercises 25-30)
Boot Camps Unlimited: All the trainers in one place

Originally published in the January 2014 issue of San Francisco

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