Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fitness For Death

Time for an update on the exercise regime I mentioned in this post.

The good news is that my Cholesterol test proved positive — ie sufficient amounts exist in my blood to confirm I’m no dietary lunatic, but not enough to kill me by tea time.

To celebrate, I kind of pigged out, ingesting more saturated fat than Oliver Hardy drenched in sunflower oil — all of which meant that my exercise regime (keenly observed for weeks, honest) needed stepping up a notch or two.

So it was farewell to J.P. Muller and his pre-Charles Atlas zany trunks, and hello to the 1966 first edition of James Hewitt’s Isometrics For You (currently retailing on Ebay for an astonishing £20).

The idea behind this book is a simple one: using everyday objects from the home and office, you can trim yourself for fitness in a trice.

That said, you’re welcome to grunt and groan along with me for half an hour or so as I recount how I twisted and ruptured myself through the first of my gruelling new Daily Dozens.


First up is the aptly titled SQUEEZE IN ON TYPEWRITER.

Being a writer, I figured this was the best place to start, but as it turned out, 60s typewriters are a heck of a lot sturdier than modern day flatscreen monitors and I nearly electrocuted myself pumping up my deltoids.

The girl in the photograph (a Miss Mandy Morgan) is clearly more satisfied with her efforts than I was with mine. I can’t help thinking she might have been something of a bugger when let loose on the dance floor to The Rolling Stones in a sweat-soaked bier keller.


Ten manly squeezes later, and I’m ready for the LEG RAISE AGAINST CABINET.

Sadly, I don’t have a cabinet, so here’s me, in my “Pump Up”tm leisurewear, recreating the isometrics heaven of the flower power decade by splitting my difference up against the bathroom basin...


Time to move on to a more advanced manoeuvre now all hope of salvation is lost.

Two things to notice here. First, Miss Mandy Morgan has turned into an oddly proportioned gentleman in even more oddly proportioned shorts. Second, equipment such as typewriters and filing cabinets has been dispensed with. For this, my friends, is the TOWEL SHRUG, and if your bathroom cupboard contains a towel resembling a dressing gown belt, then prepare to “stand erect”, “inhale deeply” and “shrug”. If it helps, pushing and pulling with all your might with no chance of moving anywhere is a little like submitting to agents.


Into the dining room now for the STRAIGHT ARM PRESS.

This time, we’re sitting erect, so it may be necessary to draw the curtains. As it happens, a gentle tug on the pelmet is not dissimilar to performing a TOWEL SHRUG, so before you know it, you may be trapped forevermore in a world of isometrics Nirvana. As for Hewitt, I suspect no-one crept under his arm between the two chairs during the taking of this photograph. In all probability, he may still be “on”.

Here’s one for anyone getting stuck in to Nanowrimo this year: the uncannily descriptive BROW CLASP.

I gave this ten minutes and, frankly, it was exhausting enough without the added dimension of turning my stream of consciousness into a multiply rejectable 200,000 word blockbuster. Best of luck to those of you keeping it up for a whole month. If it helps, you don’t have to “sit erect” for this one (though drawing the curtains might help). I’ll come onto “lying erect” in a moment.

Back to the author again — and HEAD LOWERING.

It’s probably worth explaining a little of the scientific case for isometrics for those of you who might have chosen to grunt along with me, but who may now be wondering whether to end it all with a sawn-off shotgun. Isometrics is based on the principle that muscles can be toned, firmed and exercised while contracting them against resistance — hence all the pushing against filing cabinets and chairs. Here, the author demonstrates how he can push his chin into his palm, and his palm (with equal force) against his chin in order to exercise the muscles responsible for lowering the head. If, like me, you are familiar with (a) the joint between the spine and the skull, and (b) gravity, do please feel free to skip this one before you risk ruining the walls of your living room with a javelin assault of your own ribs.

Back to Miss Mandy Morgan, who is infinitely more pleasant to look at than Hewitt — albeit in a baboon’s backside versus the rotting corpse of an octopus kind of way. Here, she demonstrates the FRUSTRATED LEG RAISE (in order “to keep the hips trim”).

In more affluent homes, this exercise may double as the PERMANENTLY RUINED CHIPPENDALE, and when practised in conjunction with isometric contraction regimes against the outside legs of the chair, the PERMANENTLY FROZEN PELVIS OF RIGIDITY.

But seriously, joking aside — don’t try this one if there’s cats about the place and you’re down to your last pair of tights.

Finally, we come to a whole range of exercises for performing in the bath. I know! Isn’t this just the cushiest exercise idea ever? Here’s Miss Mandy Morgan, demonstrating my three favourites.

Now, before you get too excited, I feel I should point out the hidden flaw in what might seem an otherwise perfectly sensible exercise plan. It was only after I’d run the bath, topped up the water with relaxant-enhanced Body Shop oils, clambered in and reminded myself of which leg was supposed to go where that I realised, actually, these photos clearly demonstrate that you don’t need a bathful of water at all. Which kind of blows the whole cushiest exercise regime ever thing. On the plus side, if you’re thinking of having a new bathroom fitted, you could save yourself a couple of hundred quid on a tub and still be fit as a fiddle. Just watch out for the carpet burns when you’re startled by the ping of underwear elastic.

That concludes my round-up of how I became a masterfully toned specimen of human physicality in under half an hour — then collapsed in a gibbering heap of slush, like a failed Yorkshire pudding.
Hope you fared a little better...

(apologies for the horrendous formatting — I can't make it stop)


fairyhedgehog said...

I feel fitter just looking at those pictures. Although we could do with one of you now that you're all toned and honed.

I'm sure next month the brow clasp will really come into play for me. I'm not sure what it achieves but that's not going to stop me.

Old Kitty said...

You can get Rosemary Conley's FatAttack dvd for like £1.99. And no it's not a low budget hammer horror sci-fi. Well I don't think so anyway.

Take care

j.leigh.bailey said...

I'm glad you mentioned the tub thing...I was devestated that I couldn't do that particular fitness regime because I didn't have a tub. Whew!

I almost got in trouble at work because I was giggling at this post when I should have been actually working. Oops!

Whirlochre said...

Hogsy Pogsy
The Brow Clasp is one of the better ones. In the picture, MMM merely looks as if she's resting the weight of her weary head in her hands, but since this is the special science of isometric exercise, she's actively pressing down against her hands with her head.

Old Kitty
Ah, Rosemary Conley. I remember her Hip & Thigh Diet from the 90s. Try as I might, I couldn't find a single recipe for hips and thighs.

J Leigh B
I swear I'll try harder next time to get you a formal caution.

McKoala said...

My mother was one of the early pioneers of the F-plan high fibre diet. It worked, because you ate so much fibre that you spent your life sitting on the toilet, getting rid of the fibre, and then it was time for your next meal, and then getting rid of the fibre, and... She decided she wanted a life away from the porcelain seat.

Whirlochre said...

Some of those diets were so high fibre you'd have been considered a slacker for swallowing Brillo pads.

stacy said...

I'm definitely all over the brow clasp.

Sylvia said...

This is wonderful and I am adding exercise into my daily routine. I already have the forehead clasp down but the others may need some work.

Are stripy socks a necessity?

My word ver: vigamine!