CHAMPAIGN — Aaron Walker’s workout equipment wasn’t spread across part of an otherwise-empty parking lot Tuesday afternoon just because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is affecting facilities such as gyms.
“Silver lining, it happened when the sun’s out and it’s above 20-below,” the 41-year-old car salesman said between sets of high-intensity interval training. “So we can work out outside. Otherwise, I’d be in the basement.”
This is Walker’s go-to workout spot — some blacktop at the south end of Centennial Park. It’s located not far from a Centennial High School campus that lacked students Tuesday because of a coronavirus-related shutdown.
He’s been bringing his gear here for five, maybe six years, by his estimation. The reason? Unless it’s brutally cold, he’d rather be outdoors than in the confines of a traditional gym.
“When I jump rope, I like to put my shades on and close my eyes,” Walker said. “There’s nobody usually here until the kids play baseball. I can close my eyes and twirl and dance and do all that kind of stuff.”
The only other thing in the parking lot Tuesday was Walker’s black car, which hosts a small radio speaker on its roof. Music by Bob Marley is a must, according to Walker, who typically keeps up a training session until his chewing gum loses all its flavor.
His circuit includes a farmer’s walk with two adjustable dumbbells that go up to 55 pounds apiece, as well as pull-ups and leg lifts with TRX suspension straps. It also incorporates a large exercise ball, pushup stands and a jump rope, among other items.
“I’ll spend a couple minutes at each section,” Walker said. “I’ve got pretty much everything I need.”
That includes a picnic table resting halfway in the parking lot and branded with a Champaign Park District logo. The table formerly sat directly underneath a large, well-placed tree branch from which Walker hung his suspension straps.
“One day they came and chopped the branch off,” Walker said. “I’m like, ‘Why’d they chop the branch?’”
The only other issue Walker sometimes faces on the blacktop occurs during baseball season, as the parking lot resides in first baseline foul territory of a youth diamond.
“Only once I got hit,” Walker said. “I remember I was jump-roping, standing here, and I came over and in slow motion I was like, ‘No!’
“It got my car. I didn’t catch it. I’m not going to lie. I kind of hit (the baseball), and it just went off of my car.”
Other than that, the eight-year Champaign resident has experienced smooth sailing with his unique workout location.
And he’s open to others utilizing it.
“Anybody’s welcome to come,” Walker said. “I see people jogging by. People are welcome to come do HIIT training if they want.”