Monday, April 13, 2009

Playing At Fitness

This month's ish of Men's Health describes a fitness camp in the rain-forests of Brazil. It can be read online, but the link, unfortunately, doesn't include any of the photos in the magazine. Basically, campers (all male) pay to strip down to their surfer shorts and run around the jungle like they're Tarzan.

You could not pay me enough to join a group like that. First of all, I hate group exercise; I hate to exercise in front of anyone. Restricting the group to men is a further disincentive. Add the flaky element of "let's pretend" ("We're warriors!" "We're an elite corps of primates!" "We're all Tarzan!") and you've just described my idea of Hell.

And yet, and yet ... there is an aspect of "play" that I miss in my fitness routine (such as it is). Years ago I took an early morning Aikido class at the YMCA. I had mixed feelings about the experience which became decidedly un-mixed the morning I was dropped on my head by a Russian black-belt (silver lining: the Russian knew a terrific chiropractor). I didn't much enjoy the grappling, but I had nothing but love for the warm-up.

This consisted of breathing exercises, followed by stretching, followed by tumbling. It lasted about 12 minutes, and by the end of it the entire body felt ready for anything (short of being dropped on the head). The breathing and the stretching I can do easily enough on my own, but the tumbling is another matter. A large space is required, and floor mats are recommended. And to be honest, there is something thrilling about a group of 20 people hitting the floor in unison.

Hm. Maybe I need to start my own "fitness camp" (emphasis on camp -- second definition) in the verdant forests of Ontario?

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