Tag Archives: weird fitness

Radio Taiso + Reebok

You may remember the essay I wrote on Japan’s historic morning workout program. Here’s a cheeky viral by Reebok, spoofing the classic television workout-along. I believe it’s safe to say, Grandma, please don’t try this at home.

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Something for everyone…to buy

From mom-on-the-go to indie rocker…don’t worry! As long as you can be stereotyped into a marketable corner, there will always be someone out there willing to sell you more of that boxed persona.

Being slow on the uptake, a word of advice to the fitness industry: Don’t name your next video the “hipster” workout…it’s not a nice word. Although I am waiting for the emo workout where you stand and sway for 45 minutes while making painfully thoughtful facial expressions.

I hate to exercise. Now what…

Look. You get it…you are supposed to do something more than move between desk and couch. But “exercise” isn’t fun…at least in your opinion.  You can continue sporadically riding the treadmill to nowhere, but maybe the time has come to try another approach. It’s actually possible to sneak fitness in like vegetables into a kid’s dinner…just hide it really well.

Here are your general options:

#1. Go standard: Do the gym

Ho-hum. Exercise and health, blah blah blah. Who hasn’t tried this? We sign up for a gym membership in a moment of inspiration, usually in January and then it languishes into one extra payment on the ol’ checking account. Some people thrive on routine. If you can psyche yourself into being accountable at the gym 3 -4 days a week, for 2 or 3 weeks, then this might be the option for you. Gyms offer convenience for fitness and a great fall back when all else fails, but little else that can often be exciting.

#2. Go Group: Join the team…or start your own.

Maybe you need a team effort to get moving. Lots of local sporting leagues exist: softball, basketball, bowling, kickball, dodgeball, you name it. Join in. Finding a buddy to join could make the move easier. No groups you like? Start your own action adventure team.

#3. Go to school: Please grade my fitness

Maybe teams aren’t you thing, but personal exploration and trying new things are. Sign up for a class.  Try something totally new. All kinds of sports, movement arts and activities are offered through local colleges. Community, state and/or private universities usually have offerings for the public. Since collegiate classes go in semesters, it is a doable committment for those of us who get bored. This option keeps your brain supple too.

#4. Go Big:  Spend a lot and do as little as possible

Invest in the most expensive home gym out there that touts the fastest way to perfect fitness…4 minutes a day. Afterall, if you pay $14,615.00, it must really work. Although, who we kidding, eventually it will languish in the basement and become the worlds most expensive laundry drying rack…ever.

#5. Go Bizarre: Extracurricular odyssey

If you are like me, you need to be entertained. A stationary bike sounds worse than the dentist. Maybe it’s time to give up the Dungeons and Dragons game in the back room of the comic book shop and take up jousting outdoors instead. There are an endless array of activities that classify as fitness. Gym is not required and creativity is by all means allowed. Possibilities are endless!

Find something that inspires you. Even if it’s a dvd or book, a self created 10 minute workout at home, reading my blog for fabulous ideas…whatever. Try to do a little more. I’m still working on the ultimate ab pulverizing couch and desk workout.  I’ll let you know when it comes out.

127 years of electrocuting your waist won’t help.

Every few years, a journalist delves into the validity of electric belts for toning abdominals.

Since the invention of electricity, there have been those seeking out its health related powers, usually in the name of making a buck.  Decades of time, money, and hope all wrapped in a belt that shoots painful shocks into your body. Somehow electric weight loss still sparks with promise.

The collective desire to believe in the power of weight loss while doing as little as possible is so strong, it’s borderline religious in fervor.

So if you wish to worship at the alter of Saint Electric Belt, here’s my advice::

If the electric belt prayers weren’t answered in the 1800s or the 1900s, why would they be now? Could 127 years of stringing people along be wrong? Yeah, probably.

Electricity has not evolved into anything new in the past 100 years. In fact, neither have these belts. Worst-case scneario you happen to be the unlucky soul who purchased the first generation electric corset in 1883, prior to alternating currents AC/DC…you might have had a few more problems, or at least a few more burnt ends…

To sum up:

Yes. Along with a good amount of exercise, electric stimulation, used in physical therapy, potentially helps build intrinsic small muscles to aid in overall recovery.

No. Using an electric belt with no other health and/or fitness regime will not help in weight loss.

Any questions?

Next time we will explore the lives of Saint Shake Weight and Saint Diet of Milk…

Tobacco, Bowling, and Vintage Home Gyms

While browsing local vintage boutique Retro 101, I stumbled upon packaging that would catch anyone’s eye – manly muscles in a contradictory happy, yet formidable pose. Whatever was in the box, it had to be mine. So goes the power of marketing. Mad Men, eat your heart out.

The Whitely Super Jiffy Gym looked promising. Best guess was with the invention of plastics, came the Super Jiffy Gym – a simplified version of the springed “chest pull” popularized by cartoons…you know the one that Tom and Jerry get tangled up in. Or was it Daffy Duck…

Now I too, could create an array of perfect Grecian poses with my new, vintage Jiffy Gym. Were the trunks required too?



But once taken out of the box, I could barely move it. It wasn’t quite the elastic band you might get from the physical therapist. No. The tension was somewhere between a strap to hold elephants at bay and a rock.

Verdict? The Jiffy Gym was a dud. Could use it to hang plants. The packaging was mesmerizing, however and a little research was in order. It appears Whitely Gyms offered a large array of classic home gym equipment throughout the 1960’s and early 70’s, bizarre precursors to the fitness props and home gym toys of today.

Turns out, Whitely Gyms of Hackensack, NJ, was owned by AMF Incorporated. AMF Incorporated was founded in 1900 New York, as the American Machine & Foundry Company Inc. The company manufactured automated machines for the tobacco industry.

AMF, Inc. expanded the automated machinery into all kinds of  industries, including the one they would ultimately be known for, the automatic pin-spotter. Yes, as in bowling. The war delayed the introduction of  the pinspotter until the late 1950’s when it revolutionized tenpin bowling and touched off a boom in the sport. Kingpin was born.

Involvement with bowling led AMF into a broad range of sports and fitness equipment during the 60’s and 70’s including; tennis racquets and skis, golf clubs, inflatable balls, scuba gear, (my Jiffy Gym) and other recreational products such as snowmobiles, bicycles, yachts and even Harley Davidson motor cycles.

From jump ropes, gym bars, bands, balls and pulley trainers, AMF’s Whitley Company offered it all.  The funny thing is, these same gym gadgets are constantly being reinvented every decade, purporting to be new, safer, more convenient, modern, and perhaps greener.

The Whitely line of home gym equipment quietly went away in the 70’s, only to be rediscovered now and again in vintage shops and yard sales by cultural fitness anthropologist such as myself. The Jiffy Gym is a shining reminder of how little has changed in American fitness, not to mention the influential power of good advertising. Afterall, I did buy it.


100 Years of Galloping Fitness Machines

It’s in the expressions worn by the people in Zander’s advertisements that the real distinction between workouts of 1908 and workouts of 2008 can be found. Take the horse rider. She sits casually astride the machine, one arm out holding the “reins” on her anthropomorphized device. Her body leans slightly back. Her eyes gaze up at the camera, almost ecstatic, head thrown to the right a bit, a slight smirk on her face. She wears hose and heels, and the strap of her dress has fallen off the shoulder.

– “The Origins of Cybex Space” by Carolyn de la Pena for Cabinet Magazine

Wait. Has it really changed that much? At least our advertising has not.

Let’s compare.

One hundred years later we have similar smiling and provocative ads for the igallop and we wonder, does history not repeat itself? Or do we not at least learn from our mistakes?

Personally, I find the local Singapore ad below to be much catchier. Sticks in your head much more effectively, annoyingly so.

Now whoa there fella. Before wrangling yourself some sort of mechanical riding apparati, I offer you this observation from my pilates years; The two bodies I’ve come across with the most injuries, tension and pain are:

1. Dental Hygenists

2. Horseback Riders

The igallop isn’t exactly like a horse, of course. Just thought you might want to know before jumping on the bandwagon… or any other type of mechanical mountable fun.

Make Yourself a Little Nervous (trapeze debut)

trapeze

We all have our imperfections we wish we could change. It’s hard to be a woman and not have body issues.  Nevertheless, I had always dreamed of doing something daring and pretty. St. Louis has Aerial Arts classes for adults. Without forethought, I registered.

I was by far the oldest in the class, the youngest, Ruby, was twelve. Intimidated by my own body, there were definitely feelings of doubt. The soreness and bruises in the beginning were pretty crazy. But the drive to prove to myself I could do this was so strong, that the bruises became marks of fierceness.

I had a goal: to get through 3 months of trapeze and perform in a recital. (It’s all I talked about for 3months). For the recital, I unwittingly invited everyone I could muster, realizing later, the stakes were now raised.

And I did it.

It’s imperfect, just like me, but beautiful in its imperfection. I did it.  I was a trapeze performer. Funny thing is, without realizing it, the shaping up and being healthier thing just happened. It was too much fun to notice. The whole experience has been mentally and physically exhilarating.

Which is why I am sharing it with you…not to mention every ex boyfriend and junior high nemesis to see. Geesh. I prefer internet photo anonymity, but I’m swallowing my pride and embarrassment hoping my experience can inspire someone else. Not to specifically do a trapeze class, but something new, just slightly out of your comfort zone. Make life a little more breath taking!