Thursday, June 03, 2010

Fun with Fit Lit

On the advice of my doctor, my mother, and a few other helpful friends I moseyed over to the fitness section of my local library to browse through the books and DVDs and see if there were any that could help me improve my strength and flexibility. You know, something beyond merely carrying stacks of books to the checkout counter.

Oh, I work out. But my routines aren’t very balanced – mostly I just run – and having picked up the habit relatively late in life and on my own, I have only vague ideas how to do stuff to prevent or overcome injuries, like stretching. I’ve been watching the cat, Lucy; the roommate’s suggestion. She thinks we could all learn from Lucy. Stretch biiiiiiggg. Play frequently. Keep yourself well groomed. And take long naps in the sun.

Well, it’s a good plan, but since I live in a different world from Lucy (and will probably never be able to, say, jump up and land on a surface five times my height) I wandered over to the library’s 613.17 section (for you Dewey Decimal fans) seeking a book or video, designed for members of my own species, on how to stretch properly.

I was impressed with the vast array. Perhaps some of my fellow blog potatoes, armchair triathletes, and others who intend to get in shape someday might want to know what’s out there.

First of all, our overstocked library system offers shelves and shelves of books and videos on weight loss and that mysterious thing called “wellness.” Huh. I don’t want to lose weight, though, and I was looking for something less esoteric than wellness.

There was a big collection of books and DVDs on yoga. Many titles had a mystical, eastern flavor, but there was also Yoga for the Rest of Us, Warrior Yoga, Yoga Heals Your Back, Yoga Fights Flab, Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle (?), and, yes, Chrisioga (Christian yoga – the leaders wear sequined crosses on their slinky tank tops and meditate on passages from the Bible).

Some of the fitness programs seemed to promise great results from little effort. I bypassed, on those grounds, The Ten-Minute Total Body Breakthrough, Seven Minutes of Magic, Coffee Break Pilates, Six Weeks to a Hollywood Body, and, though tempted, the sketchy-sounding Once a Week Workout.

There were of course lots of videos designed just for women, especially women who had just given birth and were trying to “get their bodies back.” Lotsa luck. Hint, guys, this would not be a good welcome home gift for the new mom in your home. There were books and videos just for men, too: Pilates for Men. Yoga for Men. Six-pack Abs for Men. And one designed for women to bring home for their mates called The Chubby Hubby Workout (“build a better husband”).

I also passed by The Fat Burning Kickboxing Workout for Dummies. All I could picture was myself (and all the other dummies) flailing wildly and landing flat on our exercise mats.

In the end, I checked out just one thing. It’s called The Easy Stretching Workbook. Sometimes, all you need is the simple solution to a well-defined question.

What looked like the most interesting read was a book called Becoming Batman. Of all the superheroes, the publishers claim, Batman is the one who most relied (relies?) on his own conditioning, training, and discipline. Not magic powers. So the author – a scientist, kinesiologist, martial-arts specialist, and (incidentally) comic book fan – decided to explore what it would take for an ordinary mortal to cultivate “the physical training necessary to maintain bad-guy-fighting readiness.” I didn’t check out the book, but you might find some tips to turn you into a superhero at

That’s it for today folks. Tune in next week when Lucy and I will let you know if we’ve mastered “downward dog.”

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