There are a multitude of themes that the Instagram algorithm serves me on the Discover page, ostensibly to encourage jealousy-fueled scrolling. Expensive watches. Luxury vehicles. Lavish dinner spreads. It usually doesn't work, because I'm not good at telling time on an analog watch face, I don't like driving in New York, and many of these meals look like they're designed to sell acid reflux medication. But during quarantine, I find myself getting jealous at the sight of exercise equipment. If I see someone's home squat rack, a personal rowing machine, or even a solitary dumbbell, I'm like, "Damn. This guy's got it all."
I felt that way when I saw rapper Jim Jones posting from his personal gym at home in New Jersey. But Jones isn't just showing off his own home setup. He's also sharing tips on how to repurpose household items like a broom and backpack as workout equipment in recurring videos he calls "Quarantine Fitness Tutorials."
"I just want people to stay inspired, move around, not stay on the couch eating potato chips and drinking champagne all day," Jones told VICE.
Some of the tips, Jones said, were inspired by friends who worked out while they were, euphemistically speaking, "away at school." The Harlem rapper's enthusiasm for fitness has been documented for a while: he's been seen doing calisthenics at Marcus Garvey park in Harlem, training at the legendary Iron Addicts gym in Miami, and has been posting clips on his Instagram for years, often with the tag #InCaseYouDidnt. One of his hit songs, Reppin' Time, also doubles as a reminder to get your sets in.
VICE spoke to Jim Jones to discuss fitness, working out in quarantine, and why he's started a quarantine workout series despite having a home gym.
VICE: What gave you the idea to do quarantine fitness tutorials?
Jim Jones: I'm a gym head, I love going to the gym, when you get to the gym it's different from working out in your house or working out at the park. To find the inspiration to work out at home is kind of hard. Especially when you don't have any fitness equipment. Just doing pushups all day can get kind of boring. So I want to give people an alternate workout that they can get excited and inspired to do. Something that'll trick the mind into thinking you're doing something other than what you're doing.
I showed people how to actually do a bench press from your own home if you don't have actual bench press, if you have bands. And I know some people don't need to have no bands. So then I also showed tutorials on how to do fitness without any bands, and then I bring out the broomstick, and I bring out the bottles of water, and I bring the pillowcase, and I show people numerous ways that you can use these items into making a real workout with some of the same exercises you'd see in the gym. I just want people to stay inspired, move around, not stay on the couch eating potato chips and drinking champagne all day, which I'm a fan of. Definitely a fan of potato chips and champagne but we need some balance. Balance is everything.
It must take time, because you're doing your regular workout, and then also doing the tutorial.
Whatever body part that I'm working out for myself, I like to sit down and think of creative ways to actually get a quick workout down to the people. So, I do my workout first, then the workout for the people, so actually it's like two workouts I'm doing because when I start the quarantine fitness with the household items, I gotta go through the whole regimen again, not all the repetitions but I definitely gotta do sets of everything, it's like a double workout. So I appreciate y'all even noticing that, because fitness is something I've been trying to break into as far as the hip-hop aspect, and it seems like people are starting to notice some of the things that I'm doing, it's a great feeling.
I have been using a backpack filled with cans of beans as a dumbbell. How do you come up with the exercises? Stuff like twisting the straps on a backpack to make a handle, I'd never thought of that.
Sometimes on the gram, I see somebody who did something, and I'm like, 'Man, maybe if we add this, we can use that for this exercise.' A lot of these workouts, people say they're similar to what they did when they were in school or they were in jail, which may be true. But we're in the house now, so it's not as grotesque. So I try to implement different things to make it a bit of my own, and not so…institutionalized.
Are there machines you're looking forward to using when you can get back to the gym?
It's a whole bunch of different machines we look forward to, from leg day, we got all the leg machines, leg press machines, squat racks, leg extensions, all the back machines, lat pulldowns. There's so many different machines that make it easier when you get to the gym to get your pump on, the flow is different.
But you gotta stay inspired that's why you get these workouts in the house but you got to be focused, you gotta really want it, gotta get up and get to it. It's a great form of discipline for myself, for the first few weeks, I was kind of bummed out and working out three times a week four times a week which was not my norm I had to sit down and think about it. I got a chance to better myself to get in shape better than I ever been, because I don't have no distractions. I don't gotta run out to the city, I don't gotta go to the office, nothin. Each week, I've been gradually adding more discipline to my workout regimen. Like this week, I'm gonna start attacking the core, I'm going to start doing some core tutorials.
Who are all the people you're tagging in these videos?
The people that I tag on here are all personal friends of mine, or workout buddies of mine, or people around the country that I deal with., These are all people that have worked out with me, have helped me work out, and people that I know that are working out, I try to tag them. All the rappers that I tag are all the rappers I see that are working out, like 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, O.T. Genasis, Ace Hood, Method Man, Pardi, Neil Dominique, Mark Pitts, Big Sean, Jadakiss, Styles P. There's a lot of health within the hip-hop community and I'm trying to spread that. Because this is a billion dollar business, and this is one business that we haven't had our face on yet.
Can you explain #incaseyoudidnt?
It's exactly what it is. In case you didn't work out, I got mines. I want you to feel bad, until you get yours. You heard? I want you to look at me while I'm working out. In case you didn't, I did, and you should feel bad. If you're at home and you live with a lady in case you didn't, she's gonna come to my page and look at me working out because you didn't. You dig? So think about that. You wake up every day in the house in quarantine, you're not doing one pushup, you're just going to the refrigerator, to the cabinet, eating more snacks, going back to the couch, smoking weed. You ain't giving your lady nothing to look at.
I saw that you have a recording booth situation set up with your son on the boards. Do you have anything that you're planning to put out while under quarantine?
We're working on a quarantine album, quote unquote, an EP that I should release in the next couple weeks. My son's been helping with the recording process and being an engineer, which is dope. Trying to do different things to waste the time, but to be able to do music in the house, stuff like that, is a great feeling, you ain't got nobody on you, so you got no time constraints, you ain't gotta look like superman, you ain't gotta make sure you write your verse fast, while there are other people in the studio.