Category Archives: Fun

Yard Workout

Yard Workout

It’s spring in the Northern hemisphere, and that means getting back out in the yard to clear, trim, plant, and weed. Do you have raised beds for vegetables? It’s a great plan if you have the space.

Gardening and yard work can be demanding, with lots of position changes and plenty of muscle groups involved with different tasks. That first session back out there could be a doozy, so plan to take a walk or do some gentle stretching afterward and the next day.

Do you know the source of this image? I have seen it widely shared and never attributed, and I’d like to point to whoever made it!

A Bright Moment for the President’s Council on Fitness


In 1963, President John F. Kennedy asked his military to prove they were in fine physical condition by marching 50 miles. (JFK was simply following a suggestion made by Teddy Roosvelt many years before). However, this was the cold war era and proof of strength and stamina served a useful purpose.

Before the military ever had a chance to test their troops, Robert F. Kennedy, the President’s brother and Attorney General, walked 50 miles from Great Falls, Maryland to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on the C&O Canal towpath along the Potomac. He instantly set a high bar for fitness. That walk encouraged thousands of others as the public began to walk distances they thought impossible. JFK’s military order had turned into a public fad for walking long distances. Many ordinary individuals took the challenge upon themselves to test how fit they were. This was a publicity mistake turned into a fortunate event that helped boost the public’s attention to physical fitness. — 50-Mile Kennedy Walk

Does this sound like fun? A group has started running an annual re-enactment of Bobby Kennedy’s walk — now with trail support and options for people who can’t cover the full distance (yet!). You can get more information about their event and preparation for this kind of hike at their website. The Kennedy March has appealed to people in the UK and Europe as well, with various events organized far from Maryland.

I’ll be honest, I don’t see myself doing 50 miles on the C&O Canal towpath in February, but the towpath is open all year, and is a wonderful place for hikes, walks, and bike rides. There are lots of entry points near the various towns along the route, some of which (like Kennedy’s stop, Harpers Ferry) are delightful destinations on their own.

It’s Never Just One Thing

Some say you can’t outrun your fork, or “weight loss happens in the kitchen.” You can outrun your fork — if you love running (or don’t tend to eat a lot), and as long as you don’t get injured (and knocked out of your routine). And you can definitely out-eat your exercise schedule, as many people do.

There’s no way around it. For long-term weight management and general health, you have to do both: eat mindfully and get regular exercise.

Image from The New Yorker

Early Weight-Loss Gimmicks and Plans

Obesity Soap

A few years ago, NPR’s Scott Hensley attended an event at the Library of Congress about modern attitudes toward obesity and weight-loss. “Annals Of Weight-Loss Gimmicks: From Bile Beans To Obesity Soap” features a slide show and a meal-plan from a 19th century diet book (William Banting’s Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public, which featured a prescient low-carb approach). Go take a look!

Problem Areas


Especially if you’re a woman, you probably have a specific part of your body you wish you could change — it’s an unfortunate consequence of a thousand cultural cues and media representations. The fitness industry and women’s magazines are happy to market to this wish with their thousands of pitches about toning your arms, flattening your belly, and building a butt that defies gravity. It’s a little bit truth and a little bit snake oil. You can spot build — that’s the principle of bodybuilding: zeroing in on muscles and developing them to the desired size — but you can’t spot reduce. (Well, not with diet and exercise — cosmetic surgeons can help, though.)

This illustration comes from a series that takes those critical assessments head on and changes the focus. If your body parts seem to be jerking you around and making you feel bad, take a step back, pull yourself together, be kind to yourself, and learn how your body works so you can take good care of it.

Image from How To Fix Your Body’s Trouble Areas.

Stop Making Sense, and Start Burning Calories!

Talking Heads Workout

Do you like getting swole? Do you also enjoy the experimental rock band Talking Heads? Then do we have the workout video for you!

There’s plenty of snow on the ground in the Northeast right now, making home workouts more appealing than ever. And it turns out anything can be a workout DVD — even a concert movie.

In “77 Exercises: A Workout Video For Fans Of The Talking Heads,” Ryan Stanger invites all you Slippery People to make Motion in Houses [sic].

Do you have a favorite artist whose music just makes you get up and dance?

Joining the Circus

FSU - Flying High Circus

As you think about ways to make exercise fun and engaging, how about running away and joining the circus?

The circus once meant sideshows and animal acts — with perhaps indifferent safety and ethical considerations. Today’s circus productions are generally focused on dramatic and other performing arts, a movement that gathered steam in the 1970s. Among the most magnificent of these acts are the remarkable feats of acrobats and aerialists — astonishing audiences from trapeze, ropes, wires, and silks as well as in floor routines that showcase their strength, balance, and grace.

It may come as a surprise to learn that some of this training happens at a state university — the Flying High Circus at Florida State. (There is another collegiate circus program, Gamma Phi Circus, at Illinois State.) The performing Circus is an extracurricular activity, the students participate in all aspects of training and mounting productions. FSU does offer credit-granting circus classes but no degree in circus arts.

This photo is from a LIFE magazine photo series by Loomis Dean, who visited Circus training in 1952. You can see more photos from Dean’s series at Google’s LIFE Archive. You can see what the Flying High Circus is up to today at its Facebook page.

Circus schools operate around the country, often focusing on aerial acrobatic skills and ranging from after-school programs to professional training associated with specific production companies. Few of us seriously aspire to circus performance, but many metro areas have small schools and studios that give people of all levels an opportunity to practice and grow in acrobatics — something to consider if you’re looking for some fun classes to shake up your exercise routine!