As an enthusiastically car-less resident of Philadelphia, I walk a lot: traversing crosswalks, flitting across town. Footbed-friendly Birkenstocks occupy coveted closet space, and my calves, vaguely toned, were sculpted by sidewalk inclines, not the elliptical.
This is all to say: I love walking and, more transparently, welcome ways to sneak in exercise (I call it stealth health). So, when met with the challenge to wear Bala Bangles one-pound ankle weights for an entire weekend, I embraced it. As did my—much sportier—coworker Jenn.
Together that Friday, we hypothesized what the 48 hours would bring: ripped quads? Instant fatigue? OMG, would people stare?
We wished each other luck, ankle weights in tow, and set off: she in transit to a country town for a weekend getaway, while I looked forward to house-hunting and grocery shopping.
Saturday began normally enough: I shimmied into cropped jeans, slid on ankle boots. Until, of course, I glanced down, recognizing two periwinkle donuts encircling my legs, starkly contrasting my ankle-grazing hemline. I hastily swapped my crops for a pair of more forgiving wide-legs. Jenn, meanwhile, opted for a befitting outfit of fleece and leggings for her hiking adventure.
“Very Sporty Spice of me, in my athleisure apparel and trendy ankle weights,” she admits. “Great Instagram content.”
On my trek to breakfast, I notice a slight lag in my step, but nothing glaring. Jenn agreed, “Within the first few minutes, the weights felt natural. I didn’t have an overwhelming sense of heaviness around my legs. They, more or less, functioned as a little workout buddy that gave my legs a hug with every step I took.”
It wasn’t until the next day, when I decided to grocery shop (WHY the commitment to heavy cans?) and walk 20 blocks across town to visit open houses that soreness crept in. Jenn, letting her sporty streak out, had upped the ante and attended a spin class. Her text to me that afternoon, after I implored her for the play-by-play:
“Imagine ‘climbing’ the highest hill with as much resistance as you can manage and then adding one-pound weights to each leg. This is the moment where I was confronted with that fact that I am weak of mind and body. Kidding. But it was definitely an intensified cycling experience. My legs are Jell-O after this class.”
(At this point, I should point out the sweet relief of removing said ankle weights. Part cooling sensation, part weightless ecstasy. Jenn compared it to instantly losing 10 pounds. The weights are one-pound each, but her description is—emotionally, at least—spot-on.)
That evening, the 48 hours nearly up, I met with friends for tea. Sitting at the table, I could no longer disguise the ankle weights, tugging at my pants (I was on day two of flares) to conceal them. Their commentary rolled in:
Why are you wearing a brace? TWO braces?
You look like you’re on house arrest.
What they didn’t realize is that, by this point, I had spent my entire weekend, “enhancing” all my everyday activities. Torching calories! Transforming my quads! Turning grocery treks into impromptu HIIT workouts!
Or, at least, I think that’s what happened. The science still befuddles me. I was sore, however. Not terribly, but enough to notice. And so was Jenn. Our challenge, it seems, was effective.
The takeaway: Yes, these ankle weights will likely make you sore (but in a good way). And, sure, as pop-color accessories, they may elicit a few stares. But there’s no denying the sneaky resistance training this small-but-mighty active essential provides—ideal for the resistant exerciser or an athlete in a rut. For Jenn and me? Here’s to plenty more “enhanced” hiking. Or, ya know, grocery shopping.