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Slouching Toward a Fitness Plan

by Jon F. Merz (


            Between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, Americans consume more food than most third-world countries.  Add to that, winter's hibernatorial influence and you have couch potatoes watching crummy Perry Como reruns and repeats on TV.  As January closes in, the resolute, or at least the temporarily resolute (let's be honest here), cling to the notion that they will change their ways.  Bad habits will be kicked, healthier living will be lived, and the pounds will come off. To aid you in your quest for fitness glory, the pulse-pounding pundits at WebBizarre have scoured the Net to bring you an interesting perspective on workouts and diets.

            Find out if you're a couch potato by taking this simple quiz at  If you answer yes to any of the questions, continue reading.  Otherwise, continue reading.

            Scour your home for some elastics.  Preferably large ones.  Welcome to Pilates, which my Italian grandmother tells me means ``Expensive S&M."  To quote from the folks at, the system of exercises ``is performed against the resistance of straps, pulleys, bars and springs of Pilates machines."  With that kind of description, you might wonder if the founder is someone named Mistress Pain, but proponents argue that Pilates is an invigorating workout that leaves them feeling invigorated.  Want to purchase your own machine to go in your Dungeon of Desire room?  Head over to where they sell an assortment of gear for around $400.

            Triathlons.  Swimming, running and biking almost 50 miles personally freaks me out, but some folks actually enjoy this kind of punishment.  They're usually extremely lithe and have a body fat percentage of 0%, which also allows them to double as runway fashion models in the off-season. Jump to and get all your questions answered about this exhausting lifestyle.  Or you can head over to the official Web site of U.S. triathlon training at and find a huge store of info.

            Feeling hardcore in a new age Aquarian kind of way? Maybe Power Yoga, also known as Ashtanga, is just the ticket for you.  This gut-wrenching workout takes place in a heated room and works at stretching and strengthening all your muscles and tendons, as well as cleansing your body from the inside out.  Among its proponents, Madonna has sworn by its effects.  Check out

            Marathon swimming is enjoying a popularity wave right now as fitness seekers take to the ocean and swim for miles.  And who can argue with swimming's fantastic cardiovascular and strength effects for the body?  Just be careful where you go swimming.  As this link shows,, it's very easy to wind up a snack for cruising predators of the deep!  Closer to home is the great site of, which features swimming (get this) in the East River and Hudson River of New York City.  Compete in the 28.5 mile swim around the island of Manhattan.  I understand the swim includes a full life's supply of non-essential minerals and pollutants.  Be sure to check out their water quality page when you visit.  And if you are interested in open water swimming, be sure to check out for tips on how to get started.

            Let's talk about diets.  Most folks want a diet that's simple and sheds the pounds quickly, with minimal loss of eating privileges.  Grapefruit, wheat grass, high-fat foods–pretty soon someone will tell you maple leaves and WD40 are the ticket to diet heaven.  Check out for a list of some truly unusual diet plans. Just check with your doctor before trying any of them, please.

            Want to see how many calories you're burning doing some daily activities?  Head over to where you'll see a few exercises and some basic activities.  Note that sex with an active partner only burns 5.6 calories per minute, a fact that prompted my friend Leo to moan that he's only burning 2.8 calories every time he gets lucky, which ain't often.

            Some folks need a helping hand when it comes to achieving their fitness goals.  For those among you given to the paranormal, how about reading what the psychic Edgar Cayce had to say about the wild world of personal health?  Check out and find out for yourself.  I'd summarize it, but there were far too many ``ye's" and ``hath's" for my 14-year-old mentality to comprehend.

            And then there are the diehard extremists who yearn for the days of high school gym class when a rotund balding 50-something named Mr. Costello yelled at you to grind out another set of push-ups.  And if you haven't had the life-changing experience of basic training in the military, welcome to the next best thing: boot camp fitness at the Bulldog Boot Camp Company.  March yourself (right now, stop reading, you wimp!) over to and see how the instructors at this Chicago company ``do fitness the old fashioned way."

            You know what?  Old fashioned really works.  I've changed my own fitness goals and now take the hard way instead of the easy way. I can also truthfully attest that my daily grind of changing the channels by hand instead of with the remote has burned an astonishing 10 ounces worth of fat off my body.  Add to that the five calories burned opening each new bag of chips and I'm my way to my svelte dream physique–just give me a few years, OK?

            See you on the couch.


  Jon F. Merz ( freelances from Boston, Mass., where he writes for, and more.  His past articles have appeared in World Rhythm Magazine, Ura & Omote Journal, and  He has also published two dozen short stories in various national and small press magazines.



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