Accidental Exercise

You want a great workout that doesn’t take much money or time or training and isn’t boring?  One that gets your heart rate up and your pulse going and makes your sides hurt from laughing?  And counts as quality time with the kids?

Balloon volleyball will do the trick.

I played off and on over the weekend with Janie and  I’ll tell you, I haven’t felt muscle use like this since that hula-hoop class I took a few years ago.**

Of course, we’re both pretty competitive and neither of us is likely to let a shot go by, even if it’s clearly out of our reach.  She had a way of looking right at you and batting it to the side so I have to lunge for it, and I always try to dunk it in the space between the easy chair and the couch.   We both prefer power hits, too, which aren’t good for distance, but are far more emotionally satisfying.

We do have some rules:  It’s a living room game only and the participants have to stay on their own sides of the coffee table unless the balloon goes into the rough.  The balloon can bounce off any surface, but if it stays, it’s a point for the person who put it there.  The cat is a natural hazard—the balloon stuck to him once, something Janie keeps trying to recreate without success—and so is Sunny, who has occasionally intercepted the balloon in midplay and run away with it, giggling wildly, the competitors on her heels.

Put on some music and it can get crazy.

It wasn’t until the muscle fatigue set in—around Sunday afternoon—that I realized I was actually exercising.  My SIL commented that it was like Wii Fit— except when you lose control of a balloon and it hits a lamp or the TV or any stray human beings who are wandering through the living room, nothing shattered or bruises—and the other human beings will probably join in.

The best kind of exercise is the kind that isn’t really.  And this kind is a blast.


*I don’t mind the treadmill, really, but the only time I have for prolonged exercise is in the wee hours of the morning, and it squeaks until it gets going.  Plus, my SIL is in there right now.  And . . . other excuses.

**Before I mastered (for a given definition of master) the basic motions, I spent an hour bending over to pick up the ratzen-fratzen hoop.  When I finally managed to keep it above my hips for more than four rotations, the entire class—who by that time had heard this thing clatter loudly to the floor five hundred thousand times—-broke into wild applause and I felt like I’d won a marathon.  Particularly the next day, when my abused hamstrings exacted their revenge.