October 13, 2009

A Serious Discussion on Silliness

Let's talk about being Serious About Your Workouts, and about being Silly During Your Workouts.

Attila often has me doing things I hate with the fires of a thousand suns gone supernova. Things like windmills, or Arnold curls, or this ridiculous side-galloping thing where I have to pick up a ball, side-step with it to the end of the room, put it down, side-step some more, pick it up, yadda yadda. It's boring. It's frustrating at times, like when I drop weights on my head. And most of all, it's Serious.

I hate Serious. So, in an attempt not to get bored, frustrated, and hateful, I've started injecting Silly into my workouts, and it's working.

F'rinstance, yesterday I had to do a full two minutes of those dadratted side gallop widgets between sets of something equally torturous. It's dull to gallop ten feet with a weight ball in your hands, drop it, gallop ten feet the other way, gallop back, pick up the ball....you get the idea.

However! It's fun to imitate a sailor doing the hornpipe when you're going one way and a gibbon when you're going the other. It's even more fun when your trainer starts calling out suggestions as to what you can do: "Chimpanzee!" "Hee-Haw Cast Member!" "Gorilla With A Hangover!" It works your brain and your Silly Muscle as well as your body.

Silly is especially valuable in things like agility training, which, when you're like me, can be fraught with danger and disappointment. If I have to do some four-step crossover fancy footwork combo, I'll often do it to an internal cha-cha beat. Attila's gotten used to me going "dun dun DUN dun dun wah wah WAH WAH WAH WAH" under my breath, pretending I'm on "Dancing With The Inescapably Clumsy". If I could do it in tap shoes, it would be much better, but it'd take too much time to change shoes between sets.

Sometimes we even incorporate my very patient, very calm cats. If I'm supposed to do crunches with a ten-pound weight plate clasped lovingly to my chest, well, why not just grab the ten-pound cat for one set? He likes it, it distracts me from the fact that my abdominal muscles are shredding into tiny fibers, and it gets us all through the workout with minor whining.

It's taken Attila some time to get used to having a client who's essentially a six-year-old boy in a grown woman's body. At first she was a little nervous about training somebody who would sometimes dance through workouts or chant Ramones songs in order to keep a rhythm going; now she's mostly gotten used to it. It makes both of us laugh, and it's fun. It also makes it easier for her to suggest combos that her other clients find either too intimidating or too ridiculous to try--she knows I'm good for almost anything, and I won't mind if I screw it up.

Besides, workouts ought to be fun. "Feels so good when I stop" is not a good enough reason to get most people onto the treadmill, but "Can listen to 'Avenue Q' for 30 minutes" does it for me, and might do it for somebody else.

The one suggestion I would make is this: Be sure your pirate hat fits well. It's a pain in the patookus to have it go flying off in the middle of your cardio workout.


  1. When I've run a longer distance than usual for the first time I reward myself with a cartwheel. I know that theoretically I could knock out a cartwheel any time I want, but it makes the panting, achy bit at the end of the run much more fun when in my head I'm chanting "and here it comes, here it comes, here it comes.......and over I go!! Woo I'm upside down!"

  2. LOVE this and entirely agree.
    To the point where, just this weekend, I was thinking I mightcould need to inject some work in my PLAYouts :)

    **skips off happily** shouting ARRRGH SHIVER ME TIMBERS!

  3. I'm all for adding silly. Works for the children, works for the child in all of us.

    Helps us to forget just how hard some of these exercises are (but not for long enough, that's for sure).

  4. I will probably get into trouble now for laughing out loud at my desk at work, thank goodness I had just finished my coffee or my screen would be a mess!

    I love your attitude to workouts - glad someone else is as dotty as I am (I sing outloud to my MP3 player in silly voices)!

    Will definitely be incorporating the gorrilla walk, perhaps with a bit of quasimodo thrown in and maybe a bit of impromptu ballet when the need arises.

  5. Oh yeah, you gotta have fun with these crazy workouts! Although I don't think I would use my cat for a weight - he's too spastic to stay still, lol!

  6. I have one of those obnoxious guffaw type laughs that the most snooty person in a restaurant will shoot me a dirty look, or someone at the next table will start cracking up at me because I'm laughing so hard, it's pretty infectious. So when I start giggling at the gym, usually something dumb like the person I'm sparring with made a weird face when they were punching I can't stop and I start laughing and the instructor starts laughing and pretty soon everyone is laughing.

    Laughter is great anytime.

  7. Silliness is great & if it gets you thru, why not! I wish I could do some silliness & not fall off the treadmill or Stepmill. If I don't pay enough attention, I might hurt myself!!!

    Attila sounds great to me. I am sort of hard core when it comes to weights so I would not mind having someone beat me up! :-)

  8. That sounds like such a smart idea! And yet I'm usually either working out by myself in the basement, or at the gym surrounded by hard-core exercisers... how to inject some silliness into these scenarios without feeling like a total ass?

    I think maybe I need a workout buddy! Laughing WITH someone looks a lot less crazy than just cracking up all by yourself.

  9. It's important to keep the Silly Muscle in shape.

  10. Great ideas. Not sure that my inner pirate is gonna come out, but definatley making it more interesting is essential! I'll have to think of some good ways to do this now!

  11. I love the silly factor in workouts. Unfortunately people don't like it when I use the pull-up bar as a jungle gym.

  12. I love it - so many of us forget the funny muscles :)
    I often am singing and strutting my funky stuff on the trails and run into someone...and then burst out laughing, as they can't figure out if they should laugh or back away slowly fromt he crazy lady :)

  13. Lightening up by lightening up...genius!

  14. I have 3 little kids and they LOVE it when I get silly with them. I don't always get a "formal," true-blue workout in, but we crank on the music and dance around and I play "circus" with them (lay on my back and lift them up using my legs and arms, balance them and then flip them over my head). This is great especially when we're cranky. It's a real boost.

    Chasing our 8 month-old German Shepherd around while he plays keep-away with his toys also gets our heart-rate up and sweat factor in.

  15. HeeHaw Honey with a Hangover. I can totally do that.

    Do trainers even have a sense of humor? Well, hell, they've probably seen everything anyway.

  16. I look for ways to make my long runs fun and I'm never too intent on a time goal to stop and check out a statue or a garden. I read historical plaques and pet the neighborhood cats. No run past a pond is complete without saying hello to the ducks and turtles. Running is my way of getting acquainted with the city.

    My latest strategy is the Craigslist Run: I plot my route based on garage sales in the area, as noted on craigslist. I take cash and business cards with me and if I find something I like, I pay, give a card, and arrange to come back and pick up my items.

    Last Saturday I got a new Ann Taylor blouse with the tags still on for $5. It may not have been silly, but it sure put a spring in my step!

  17. Cool that your trainer was shouting out suggestions too. Isn't talk like a pirate day coming up soon again?

  18. I love silliness! Hubby sees me collapsing on the couch laughing all too often. Instead of just doing pool walking (boring), I often channel my inner pirate and swashbuckle from end to end, waving my imaginary sword wildly! I have no idea what people think and I don't care as long as I am running that dirty swine through!

    I also admit to having done bicep curls with my long-suffering cats. Another good move is to hoist one overhead like the cat show judges sometimes do to show off their chosen kitty.

  19. Hilarious! Hilarious! My only problem with silliness in workouts is cracking myself up to the point that I fall off the elliptical (or whatever other apparatus). There are certain TV shows that I cannot watch while exercising because of the risk of laugh-induced injuries. "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" was one of those a few years ago.

  20. SO TRUE! Everyone needs ot read this before committing to any workout program. Fun first. And always with the silliness. *wishes she could say something cool in pirate*

  21. damn, can I work out with you? I miss the fun. It's kind of hard to bring the fun when you're working out alone. Gonna have to find better music or something...

    Because silly needs to come into the gym with me.


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