“No Gym, No Gear, No Problem” – Filmmakers, Stay Fit During COVID-19


William Donaruma


Written By William Donaruma

Production can be an arduous job and we have to stay strong, nimble and mentally focused to be successful for the long haul. But here we are in the COVID-19 era, stuck at home with too many snacks and streaming services to stay on our toes. For many of us, the production day gets your steps and keeps you active. Others need a gym as a getaway for physical, mental and social health along with the added motivation and guidance of your session coach. Even dumbbells and other home gym gear are being sold out. So, here’s my take on the Kenny Chesney song, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem”, to get you up, out and avoid the COVID-19lbs.

(Pictured above, left, and below: Cheap items to work on your grip so when you have to get back and carry that expensive gear, you are ready!)

I don’t care to go to a gym, and I don’t need one. I belonged to Orange Theory when my wife signed me up so I would go with her occasionally, but I don’t miss it at all, especially now. I have two friends I meet at a park, and we take turns programming the fun for the day following a similar format. Ten exercises, variable reps, and distances with a run between sets. All functional fitness you need to carry camera cases, c-stands, a 12K, or running to lock up a street for the next take with two walkies and a metal clipboard hanging from you.

William DonarumaSand is your friend. It doesn’t just hold down a combo stand. It fills buckets and bags and moves when you move while you carry it, hoist it and throw it. And, it costs a few bucks for a 70lb tube of it at your hardware store. Five-dollar utility buckets and some fiber-cloth sandbags for about 30 cents can do the trick. I like a good bag with handles for extra options like curls.

Grip and core strength are vital to keep us going and keep us ready for when we get back to work. So, get outside and get to work and have some fun. Here’s an example of what we do and you can modify it. Stagger which exercise you each do so you don’t overlap. Run up to 500 meters between each exercise. We run down to a fence and back.

Functional Fitness for Filmmakers
Exercises for Grip and Core Strength

  1. 20 hand release push-ups (new army fitness test; pick your hands up when you touch the ground)
  2. 50 meters of lunges (with or without weighted backpack)
  3. 40 sit-ups with sandbag
  4. 100- to 200-meter bucket carry (which are filled with sand or water)
  5. 20 burpees
  6. 100-meter overhead carry (again, another sandbag)
  7. 50- to 100-meter bear crawl
  8. 50 air squats (or weighted backpack)
  9. 100-meter farmer carry (hold the sandbag in front of you with arms underneath)
  10. 40 4-count flutter kicks or Russian twists

William DonarumaIf you can get a rope, we also like to pull the sandbags down and back for a set. Mix it up each week for variety. One time we made the run distance a lot shorter, but ran through the circuit twice. Aim for just under an hour and you have time to socialize, six feet apart, in the open air.

If you can’t always get together you can head out with sand in your backpack roaming the north Hollywood Hills listening to the endless stream of production podcasts right now. You will be learning and training for the return to work. Production will be back, and you will be ready.

No Gym?  No Gear?  No Problem!

And remember, #wear a mask, it’s not about you!




William DonarumaWilliam is currently a Professor of the Practice in Filmmaking at the University of Notre Dame and also serves as Creative Director for the Office of Digital Learning.  His courses involve narrative digital cinema production as well as visual research in anthropology stemming from his documentary work off the coast of Ireland and local barns in Indiana.   He forged careers in academia, cinematography and directing winning awards for both teaching and filmmaking.  His latest work was a project in Thailand this past January profiling the work of architect Ong-ard Satrabhandhu.  More of his work and continuing adventures can be seen at williamdonaruma.com.


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