January 15, 2010

What To Do When Nothing Else Effing Works: A Short Guide To Silliness

Not exactly safe for work.
Didja know Richard Simmons has cruises? Seriously. They're called "Cruise To Lose" and the next one leaves from NOLA in late September of this year.

How cool would that be? Imagine: a whole cruise ship full of Richard Simmons devotees. And the man himself, teaching classes.

I'll just let you imagine the Bedazzled possibilities there.

All kidding aside, I love Richard Simmons. Dude has it *down* as far as eating right and exercising goes; he started doing what he's still doing in 1973, and has modified his plan according to research on nutrition and fitness. He's a darn sight better than the Johnny-come-lately fitness "gurus" who recommend you eat only carbs (*ahem*, Susan Powter--whatcha doin' now?) and those who recommend that women be "tiny" and not lift anything more than two pounds at a time (Tracy? Tracy Anderson? You got those lawsuits dealt with yet?)

But you know the reason I love Richard Simmons so much?

I'll tell you.

He's silly.

He has silly down as much as he does eating right and the whole process of learning to love yourself. He's not afraid to look like a big ol' queen on national TV, he still wears the same shorts he wore back in 1981, and he admits freely that his hair is all plugs--in a silly way.

He frolics, in much the same way young kids frolic when they play. Fitness is, I think, less a matter of daily slogging for him than of finding the fun, exciting things you can do to get yourself moving.

Therefore, this post on Silly Fitness is dedicated to Saint Richard.

Jo's Tips For Silly Fitness:

1. Frolic. It's the single most important thing you can do. If you feel too exposed when you frolic by yourself, find a frolic partner. Borrow a dog or a kid or go to an all-women's gym or class (my old gym had *great* women-only classes in a windowless room, in which the Pentacostals and the Muslims and the chicks like me would all get frolicky) and have some fun. Play basketball instead of going for a run if you like, or play "FORKS IN A BLENDER!!"*

2. Refuse to be put off by complex moves. Even if you screw it up, short of personal injury, you'll do no harm, and provide a laugh to somebody else. Attila had me doing something this last session that involved a series of short steps, a weight ball, a step, and the eventual collision of Jo with the wall. It got my heartrate up, made us both laugh until we cried, and showed Attila that this was not perhaps the best combo for her clumsier clients.

3. Take the opportunities that boring things present to be silly. Mopping the floor is one thing. Mopping the floor while doing your best Mick Jagger imitation is guaranteed to raise your heart rate and burn more calories than grumbling. Washing the car is great exercise--but it's better with Gloria Gaynor on the radio, turned up loud enough that you can hear it through your (closed) car windows. Even grocery shopping can be fun, if there's good music on the store speakers and you're in a deserted aisle. I'm lucky--the local Kroger plays everything from Louis Armstrong to Rage Against The Machine--but there are possibilities in upbeat Muzak, too.

Here's the thing about being fit: Being Physically Strong Enables You To Enjoy More Of Your Life. Period. That's the only reason to run, lift weights, and watch what you eat. Even if you're kinda fat, like me, you'll get way more out of life if you can keep up with your dog/the neighbor's kid/the hippies on the longboards than if you're a couch potato. And the way to get to where you enjoy More Of Your Life is to Enjoy What You've Got Right The Hell Now.

Seize the day. Frolic. Be silly. Set a bad example for the neighbors.

In twenty years, they'll be the ones muttering, "Stupid kids" while you zoom past on a skateboard, screaming in delight.

*FORKS IN A BLENDER!! is a favorite at the local gay bar. Everybody stops what they're doing, raises arms above head, spreads their hands wide, and yells "Tinkatinkatinkatinka!" while hopping around in circles. Trust me: if you can't do it for more than ten seconds without falling over laughing, you're doin' it right.


  1. Yeah, when I don't feel like doing structured exercise, I frolic. I do kicks with my boyfriend, or have a funny walk around the park, or walk his dog, or just dance around with my sisters. Frolicking is fun.

  2. I am post-doc level of silly. When I started my new/old job ten years ago, and on the first day said something that made the whole room crack up, I knew I was in the right place. We all do silly very well. (Of course, we're not exactly exercising at work. Just exerting ourselves.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. oh Jo... I had a hard time focusing on the post after that video! Running around with the kid and the dogs is good fun. until the great dane crushes your foot, that is. :)

    I love and miss Whose Line Is It Anyway...stupid, but funnier than hell. thanks for posting it :) What a good way to start the day!

  4. That video is hilarious!

    I like to skate with my kids outside in the winter, and we just got Wii Just Dance...lots of fun!

  5. "Imagine: a whole cruise ship full of Richard Simmons devotees"
    Nope. You can't make me. Lalalalala.

    That photo is...well...I'm going to find some soap...my eyes.

    I like the man though. He has such an amazing heart and really does what he does because he cares. I would find him a bit much to take for weeks at a time, but I like his unfettered bizarre energy.

    And I totally agree: Being Physically Strong Enables You To Enjoy More Of Your Life. This is why I turned my life around. I wanted to live :)

  6. Oh thank you! thank you! thank you for making me laugh this morning! I was having a decidedly un-silly day until now. I think we get so bogged down in being 'grown ups' that we forget about the fun. thanks for reminding us all to get our silly on every now and then.

  7. Love this post! I think the key to success in better fitness is HAVE FUN! You're not going to stick with it if it's not FUN!

    Awesome! I am posting a link to this post in my blog today! Keep it up!

  8. Geosomin: The thing that made me love RS more than anything else was the story I read on a website, posted by a woman who tried to take pictures of him while they were both in Italy. "I'm sorry," he said, approaching her, "I can't let you take pictures of me....unless you're in them with me!"

    He then had an impromptu meet-and-greet atop the Tower of Pisa (or something like that), and I just adore him for it.

  9. OH just LOOOOOVE this post, over at ditch diets I propose that exercise = play if we just know how to do it! And it's what I propose in my 3 books. And I love to frolic with my sister's kids - especially when it involves running down a dirt road and jumping in mud puddles to see who can make the biggest muddy splash. Ahem - did I mention that my sisters are NOT amused at muddy tackies!!!! And like you I think Richard rocks for that VERY reason!

  10. I like the idea of frolicking -- even if other things effing well /do/ work. Still a fun idea :)

    I thought that audience was going to injure themselves from laughing that hard. Never thought of laughter as exercise before, but they got a workout.

  11. Sigh. I suck at teh silly, at least when it comes to exercise.

    I can get silly in some contexts, like at home with the Lobster, but have that super-self-conscious "I can't do THAT in public" type personality.

    Well, there are a few exceptions. (Spazz-dancing on the elliptical at the gym when the music is good and I've consumed too much caffeine).

    But I definitely need to work on getting more silly into my life!

  12. Count me in with those who wouldn't be able to take Richard Simmons in large doses but he SO cracks me up in this video which I've seen a few times before and STILL watched. I know the man has a huge caring heart and his sillyness alone could keep him fit.

    I find that as I get older, I'm less concerned about how silly I look. Not too long ago, in a busy shop, some music came over the speakers.. the kind you just can't keep from tapping your foot. From the corner of my eye I could see Frank dancing up to me with a goofy grin on his face. There was a split-second when I considered leaving the store, pretending that I didn't know this silly stranger but instead I started laughing and joined him -for just a few seconds but it was fun. I'm beginning to understand the importance of silly.

  13. My abs hurt from laughing so hard. What a great way to start the day. I may pass on the Simmons Salad (photo).

    I need to be silly more. Turning on music and dancing around my kitchen while cooking/cleaning up helps.

    Word Verification: "iness" as in SILLiness.

  14. OMG, I just about fell on the floor with that photo, that's is just wrong.

    But I agree, he's a great inspiration and I like the idea that fitness should be fun. Great post, thanks!

  15. Haha! I want to play forks in a blender!!

    Or a more serious note (kind of) it's hard not to love Richard Simmons. He's so happy and it's contagious. :) Plus, life is TOO short not to have fun.


  16. I am a big fan of Richard Simmons and never realized until I read this post that his popularity is based not just on all the people he has helped or inspired but on plain old silliness. The world needs more silliness. I aim to do my part.


  17. Thanks for the carpe diem reminder.

    There's a new recreation complex in my area and they have a children's room devoted to gamercising. I so want a room like that for my own.

  18. I love this post. I always forget to make fitness fun. Fitness is a means to living a better life. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. So we were headed down the California coast on the AIDS ride (San Francisco to LA on bikes in a week) & the organizers provide terrific rest stops, each with a theme (fairy tlaes, firemen, weddings - and most of the guys are dressed in wedding dresses). As we got to our last rest stop of the third day, we learned that the fire department had shut down one of the roads we were to take to fight a grass fire & we'd have to hang out there for a while.

    The theme of this stop? Richard Simmons! Talk about surreal. 75 miles on our legs so far that day. California sun. In the yard surrounding a mission. About 10 of the road crew dressed as Richard & going all out to keep our energy up.

    A bizarre but happy memory.

  20. I miss Whose Line is it Anyway! (Especially the original version.) And now my co-workers think I'm a bit *more* nuts. ('Cuz they already knew I was crazy.)

    I find having kids is the perfect excuse to add "fun workouts" - skipping around, hopping like bunnies, doing cartwheels. Playing Twister!

    I also highly highly highly recommend dance classes. For adults. Jazz, hip-hop, and tap classes are great for finding new friends, learning something new, getting your heart rate up, and having F.U.N. All to fun and funky music.

  21. I love this post but brb, scrubbing my eyes with a PedEgg.

    Also, just reading about FORKS IN A BLENDER cracks me up.

  22. Great post, as a fitness instructor myself I find people really enjoy your classes when you're a little bit silly. Especially when teaching aquafitness, I'm on the pool deck while they are all in the awter so I sometimes do silly little dances and moves just to make them laugh.

    Honestly, if exercise isn't fun you won't do it, so I feel it's my job to make the classes "fun" and adding a little bit of silliness goes a long way - it helps to keep people from taking everything way to seriously!

    And personally, I think they love it when I screw up the choreography and they don't (at least they love laughing at me when I do!!)

  23. I couldnt agree with you more. Positive energy is a variable in every successful pursuit!

  24. I love having fun while working out and I know that is a huge reason WHY my workout place, well, works for me!

    Forks in a blender - sounds fun!!!

  25. Hmm... frolic. I do that quite liberally in the comfort of my own home. In fact, I'm frolicking right now, accept my boxers happen to be slightly longer than Mr.Simmon's 80's shorts.

    Times sure have changed

  26. Thx for the smiles!!! We all need to frolic now & then & lots of us need to do it way more often than we do! THX!

  27. Hilarious! I can now go back and face the rest of my day! Thanks Jo!

  28. Never been a fan of RS, but I do have a ton of respect for the man. He does embody the word silly, doesn't he?

    My favorite video (look it up on youtube) is him on Letterman with some steamer. It catches on fire, and oh my, I LMAO.

  29. I do love Richard Simmons for all the reasons you mentioned and for the fact he has overweight people in his exercise videos. Not a room full of perfect people. And for the fact that he really cares about helping overweight people.

  30. I think I do #3 a lot. I tend to put martial arts into my boring activities just to pass the time. That or I've watched the Karate Kid way too many times and I'm trying to find Zen in everything.

  31. OMG, I'm going to have serious nightmares about the picture of Richard Simmons!

  32. If it isn't fun, it won't get done. So make the journey to healthy fun.

  33. O. M. G. That video was hysterical. Thanks for the laughs!! I needed that!

  34. Woohoo!! Thanks for the great laughs! I'd seen that video before but laughed just as hard this time - or maybe harder cause I knew what was coming. LOL! I love Richard because he found a way to be comfortable in his own skin and he sincerely cares about helping people - usually people that most would just pass by. That is a true gift. I would love to go on one of his cruises! I bet my face would hurt from smiling and I'd lose inches off my tummy just from all the laughter. :)

  35. I did know he did cruises :) I used to think he was.... Well I won't finish it because it wasn't nice. But he has pizzazz that no one else does. And inspires so many people in the right ways. Silly is good.

  36. I'm a fan of Richard's too, just for his ability to be so comfortable in his own skin. And his fitness philosophy works, nothing crazy about it. So thanks for the chance to see this new dimension of Richard's--never would I have believed the salad picture if someone told me about it! And the video is hilarious.

  37. I had a great time today at a five year old's b-day party. It was at a place called 'pump it up'. 20 kids and their parents were let loose in a room with jumpy toys filled with air. My greatest/most fun workout in weeks. Getting a 2 year old up and over and through the obstacle course was work. Fun, silly, calorie burning work. I got some side looks from some of the other parents when I went shrieking down the big slide. Great stress reliever.

  38. I'm all for frolicking during workouts. I took pole dance because it was fun & sexy (and no mirrors, so I felt like a sex kitten). I take burlesque because it's fun. I used to be so good at step aerobics that I'd take the dual-step class (each person uses 2 steps and the moves are super complex) then do the entire class backward, because it was fun.

    Now I need to find the Forks In a Blender bar!!

  39. Oh, jeez! I really needed a laugh today! Hilarious! Thanks for posting this. I have to say, though, a little Richard Simmons goes along way . . .

  40. Bring on the sillies!! LOVE IT!! Thanks for sharing, I have a totally new view of Richards Simmons- I was getting annoyed with all his coverage lately, but love your perspective, changed my mind - and thanks for that!!!

  41. Mock me all you want, but I love RS. His videos are kitschy, but the way I see it, they're meant to be. He makes it easy to modify stuff, and what you're doing doesn't feel so much like an actual work out. You're leaping through the air, realizing full well that you look like a doofus, but you're having fun doing it, so who gives a f--k. And he uses real people in his videos, which makes me feel a million times better than watching some anorexic waif or listening to some overly chirpy, brain-dead bimbo.

    And RS is sincere. You can tell he is genuinely passionate about what he does. Don't get me wrong, he's a little out-there, he's whacky...but somehow that's why I love him. He is who he is, and he's not ashamed of it.


Thanks for commenting, Cranky Fitness readers are the BEST!

Subscribe to comments via RSS

(Note: Older Comment Threads Are Moderated)