Fame costs – and right here in my house that I haven’t left for a month is where I start paying

As we enter into week…4?…5?…eleventybillion? of Covid-19 stay-at-home life, I’m definitely looking for ways to keep my monkey mind occupied and my cooped up body from permanently assuming the shape of the kitchen chair where I currently spend my workdays.

I’m a former theatre kid, was a legit drama major in college, started my career at Manhattan Theatre Club, and have a tendency to burst into song during meetings. And so it is not an exaggeration to say I shrieked out loud when I learned that Debbie Allen – YES, THAT DEBBIE ALLEN —  is offering dance class via her Instagram.

Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 2.47.23 PM

@therealdebbieallen wants us to live forever.

It has been my dream to have Debbie Allen yell at me in dance class since I was 13. And so, I put on my leggings, t-shirt and sneakers (all the while wishing they were leotards, tights and Capezios, which I no longer own, but which used to comprise 50% of my wardrobe – the other 50% being sweatshirts with the neck cut to look like Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance”), moved all the furniture out of my living room (I live in 900 square feet with two other people, so you can imagine how this was received by my husband and daughter as they did parkour over the coffee table to gain access to the bathroom), and got ready to START PAYING IN SWEAT.

I was terrible. Comically terrible. You’ve seen videos of a newborn giraffe standing up for the first time? It was like that, but not cute. It was as if I had just discovered there are feet attached to my legs which are also connected to my body and those legs can be used for something other than holding up my torso in my kitchen chair. Eventually, I just lay down on the floor and watched Debbie, and then I put on the episode of “Fame” where Jesse is in a coma and Mrs. Berg reveals she’s a medium. (This is an actual plot of an episode of “Fame.”)

I don’t know there’s a lesson to learn from this, except to say it was reassuring and comforting to remember that once, not so long ago and also a lifetime ago, I was a kid who loved dance class and theatre school, and had big dreams. And while those particular dreams didn’t come to fruition in precisely the way I imagined they might, they were sweet and sustaining during a chunk of my life when I was scared and sad a lot of the time, and terribly vulnerable – and they remain so. Because even though I am mostly made of kitchen chair now, it’s still fun to dance around the living room. I’m glad I remembered that.

Shugg It

Urban Dictionary variously defines “shugging” as: going to the toilet while half asleep (and missing the toilet), furtively masturbating, or searching through a bag of marijuana leaf shake for enough bud to roll a joint.

This post is not about any of those things.

This post is about exercise.

A couple of months ago Jonathan came home with a sledge hammer. Jon’s not really a “knock stuff down with a sledge hammer” kind of guy, and also, we live in a co-op.

Turns out, the sledge was for exercise. He’d found a website for a program called “Shovelglove.” The exercise itself was called “shugging,” and it amounted to swinging around a sledge hammer wrapped in an old sweater for 15 minutes a day while pretending to do things like dig a hole, chop wood, and churn butter.

HAHAHAHAHAHAH! I said. And also, good luck with that.

Eight weeks later he’s got the beginnings of a six pack (it’s a two pack right now), his posture is amazing, he’s got shoulders like a blacksmith, and he’s lost about 15 pounds.

And I have a new sledge hammer.

Big Daddy sledge hammer and Little Mama sledge hammer

It sounds crazy, but it is the dream workout — it takes 15 minutes, it’s free after your initial sledge investment, and you can do it naked if you feel like it (What? The word gymnasium comes from the Ancient Greek  gymnós, which means “naked.”)

And it works! You get the music cranking and start waving your sledge around, and within seconds you are sweaty and trembly and using all kinds of muscles that you forgot you had.

I’ve assembled a 20 minute playlist (15 minutes of sledge work and 5 of stretching on the floor) that includes these songs:

Animal (Glee cast version), I Only Want To Be With You (Bay City Rollers), All The Small Things (Blink-182), Love On Top (Beyonce), Fuck You (Cee Lo Green), The Middle (Jimmy Eat World).

As for the movements, I’ve found that adding a little narrative helps me with my form and endurance, so I have “Digging a hole to plant a tree at my Berkshires country home” (which I do not own), “Churning butter with Ma Ingalls”, “Chopping a hole in the door of the burning building to rescue Emmy from the fire” (excellent motivation to keep going), “Chopping wood on a tree stump with Pa Ingalls”, “Chopping down the big tree”  (this is a side to side motion, as opposed to an over-the-head one), the “Bicep one”, and the “Damn you dinner lady arms”.

Oh, what’s that you ask? Do I actually stand in my living room naked waving around a sledge hammer while listening to the Bay City Rollers? No, of course not. I wear a sports bra and underpants. I’m not even Greek.