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Fitter, Happier and More Productive: Alternative Ways to Exercise

February 8, 2012

“Exercise is for people who don’t know how to have fun – did you “exercise” as a kid?” asks blogger Lorra of Passion School fame. It’s true: every Saturday morning my father took my brother and I to the Britannia Leisure Centre and it never felt like exercising. It was just fun. As an adult, I found swimming to be a lonely past-time. I’m too distracted by the constant battle to keep my breasts from bobbing out of my swimming costume to think about making up stories, and anyway, you can’t listen to music or watch Adam Scott sitcoms or drink strong cider whilst you swim, and those are three of my favourite things to distract myself from the physical pain of exertion. Unfortunately, my other two favourite past-times – having opinions in drinking establishments, and then writing about them – involve sitting on my arse and consuming calories.

Don’t get me wrong, I accept my body shape for what it is, and there are worse things that can happen than putting on a few extra pounds in the name of art, but I don’t want to “do an Elvis” and die on a toilet seat after a lifetime of banana sandwiches. And look at all the dancing he did, y’know?

Anyway, I tried swimming and it was a chesticular nightmare. I’ve also fallen into the trap of getting an expensive gym membership and then – for no discernable reason – never bothering to go. In fact, instead of just cancelling the membership, I kept it for well over six months out of embarrassment – as though the staff of Fitness First would clutch their pearls at the thought of someone having a gym membership and – gasp! – not using it.

And so, I’ve been thinking about playfulness and ways in which I can combat what Wannabe A Writer? author Jane Wenham-Jones calls “writer’s bum”, and here’s what I’ve come up with…

Hula hooping – I seem to remember these costing a tuppence and being all sparkly and fun, but the only hoop I could find on the highstreet was Davina McCall’s alarming EXERCISE HOOP. It’s weighted and padded and really big and snaps into pieces for easy storage when you realise the hula hoop was a terrible idea, so it’s probably better than a frivolous pink glittery one, but still. Way to take the fun out, Davina. I like to shake my ass in the garden with a bit of upbeat rock circa 2002 to keep me motivated. Nothing gets me going like Josh Homme. As I’m utterly crap, my general rule is to hula hoop for five songs. Sometimes, if the ol’ iPod is on shuffle, this can backfire horrifically. Crying whilst manically hula hooping to Nick Cave’s 17-minute lolfest O’Malley’s Bar isn’t a good look, even in the privacy of your own home. Hula hooping is good for toning, and apparently if you aren’t shit, it’s a good aerobic exercise too.

Poi – Based on a traditional Maori form of dance, you might be familiar with this potentially obnoxious circus skill, which seems to be mostly demonstrated by twats twirling glowsticks attached to string in the confined dance floor of a club. Don’t be intimidated by fancy-pants equipement, just fill two knee-length socks with a tennis-ball-sized amount of dry rice and get twirling. Check YouTube for tutorials – here’s a good place to start. This is what you’re aiming for. The aim is to not die in a firey inferno. Poi Spinning: A Jam-packed Guide by Michal Kahn and Lucy Jane Batchelor is a good book on the subject. Prepare to have sore arms.

Juggling – This is a skill I still haven’t mastered. It’s hard, yo. I have a collection of juggling balls which I like to drop from time to time, but I figure if I can just get over the hump of keeping three balls in the air, my whole life would be at least 2% more enriched. Start with cheap hacky sacks (apparently also known as “footbags” which I think is hilarious, like American football being called “handegg”) and work your way up. I reckon once you’re past the constant-dropping stage, this would be a good little ditty to crack out indoors when the weather is nippy.

Contact Juggling – like juggling for lazy little bitches. Start out with a heavy-duty ball like one of these puppies and remember, “slightly sticky” is a good thing when we’re talking contact juggling. You’ll want a copy of Contact Juggling by James Ernest, and check YouTube for lessons in the basics. Once you’re rolling with confidence, I reckon contact juggling to music would be a grand old way to get your heart rate going.

Let me know what you do to keep your heart healthy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 5:04 am

    Hula hooping is da SHIZZZ. I also love all the other things you mentioned.

    Listening to Doug Graham (80/10/10 guy) teleconferences today, he talks a lot about neuro-training, and that is VERY much a weak link for most people, it seems! I should send you this stuff, it’s awesome.

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