One of the first obstacles of working from home is resisting the urge to be lazy and embrace the style that I refer to as “business pajamas.” Once you’ve defeated that demon, it gets much easier (and more productive), but there are still challenges you’ll face in your day-to-day routine, including cutting back on snacking, remembering to stand up and walk away from your desk once an hour, and keeping in regular contact with other human beings. I’m not kidding. Slack channels are no way to nurture relationships, personal or professional, and one day you’ll find yourself having long, one-sided conversations with the dog.
The biggest challenge for many of us? Fitness. Working from home for over a decade now, I’ve read about almost every quick workout fad and fitness “cheat” out there. Short of keeping a kettlebell at my standing desk, very little has worked other than—and this might shock you—actual exercise. And I have kept that kettlebell in use while adding a set of jump ropes and resistance bands, and the results have been mostly positive. But what happens when you’re suddenly responsible for home-schooling a seemingly nuclear-powered four-year-old and your kettlebell becomes a battle station for Star Wars Legos and the jump rope is used to corral the evil villains (stuffed animals)? You get creative.
More specifically, you get a fitness device like CROSSNET, which serves several great purposes, not just during a period where you’re spending all your time at home, but also when it’s a beautiful day and you just want to get outside and enjoy it.
What is CROSSNET?
As you can see in the image at the top of this article, CROSSNET is basically a combination of a volleyball net and Four Square, the game our elementary school phys ed teachers made us play so they could work on their tans (no disrespect meant to P.E. teachers in general, this is just something that mine actually did). It is portable and easy to set up, as it packs and unpacks like a tailgate tent, but without all the frustrating and yelling as you struggle to pull the bag over the top.
How Does it Compare to a Regular Volleyball Net?
For comparison, I looked to my neighbors, who occasionally have a full volleyball net (possibly bigger than regulation size) in their front yard. Obviously, if your goal is to host a three-on-three or five-on-five game, then you’ll want the deal. But if you’re entertaining friends and just goofing around, looking to mix things up, or playing one-on-one, two-on-two or four-on-four for the sake of breaking a great sweat, CROSSNET was designed to promote variety. And if you’re only interested in volleyball, it probably has advantages as a practice tool, allowing you to work on your bumps, sets and spikes while ducking and weaving.
As far as setting the CROSSNET up, I don’t always trust claims that something “sets up in minutes.” I have a “three-bedroom” pop-up tent that is supposed to set up in minutes and pack up in minutes, and each process takes at least 20 minutes, so I’m wary of “quick and easy.” Now, though, I administer a test: after timing the process of setting it up and breaking it down the first time, I then time myself on the second and third efforts. In this case, the first assembly took 12 minutes. Not terrible, not the best. But by the third effort, and becoming more familiar with the steps, it took me seven minutes. That’s a solid improvement and not much time wasted. Better yet, there’s very little frustration in the packing up process, which is important for when you’re winded and desperate to relax on the couch.
The packing process is also important, because unlike the cemented or buried poles of a volleyball net, you won’t leave CROSSNET outside overnight. In fact, I strongly recommend using the support ropes and even considering weights for the legs, because a strong spike could topple the nets and cause delay in your high-stakes game. (So maybe tell the Top Guns in your close circle to stop showing off. Windmill high fives are still very much encouraged, though.)
What Do I Love Most about It?
A few months back, I took my son to a friend’s birthday party in a park, and there was a badminton net that the older kids and parents were using for volleyball. As it often happens, my four-year-old desperately wanted to join in but lacks the power to get the ball over the high net, and so that caused frustration, to put it mildly.
What makes CROSSNET great for all ages is the adjustable height, as I can lower the net to the ground, essentially making it a four-way tennis net. That way my little guy can work on getting the ball over the net, without becoming frustrated and giving up on a sport that he really likes, and we can even mix in paddles so he can get a feel for tennis.
Soon enough, he’ll be able to beat me and then I’ll really regret adding weights to support the CROSSNET’s legs, because I won’t be able to knock it over in embarrassment.