Exercising with the peanut gallery

November 5, 2007

by Jennifer Gallus

Now that it’s starting to turn a little colder, I’ve started to do some of my exercising indoors. This means my boys are usually at my hip, and sometimes mimicking my every move.

Eventually, they get bored with my routine and they’ll go off and play, but until then, it’s hard to get any real exercise in, because it’s like having two little comics telling one liners constantly.

They like to critique my every move and tell me what I’m doing wrong. Then they show me how to do it right. This usually happens when I’m using an exercise video.

Or they’ll sit or stand right next to me and do the same exercises very seriously. Just looking over at them with their concentration makes me want to laugh, but I don’t so as not to offend them.

They can contort they bodies every which way, and they have abs of steel, things of which their mother does not possess.

A few weeks ago, I purchased one of those exercise balls – you know, those huge inflatable balls that have become so popular. With my boys at my side, we blew up the ball, popped the video in, and as I sat on the ball for the first time – I fell off of it.

Thus a giggle fest began. I couldn’t even get through the stretching portion of the video without laughing hysterically at the comments coming out of the peanut gallery.

In order to stretch your back out, you’re supposed to lay on your back, on the ball, and let the curve of your back drape over the curve of the ball. It was challenging enough trying not to crack my head on the floor and get used to this type of stretch on a moving object since my balance wasn’t quite where it should’ve been. But then I’ve got comments flying at me like, “Your back just doesn’t bend like that lady’s does!” and “That’s not how you do it!” – it’s hard not to laugh.

So then I’m laughing and I’m tensed up in a contorted backwards position draped over an unstable plastic ball, and trying to look at the TV upside down. I’m not stretching or relaxing at this point – I’m just basically a slipped vertebrae waiting to happen.

A person needs to concentrate while performing strange new exercises on unstable surfaces and laughing can only lead to increased clumsiness.

Finally, I had to tell the boys to beat it so that I could possibly work up a sweat instead of work on putting myself in a future need for traction.

So they left me alone for a bit, and I got a little more used to that unstable plastic ball. There were some good ab exercises that made my stomach sore for three days! Some of the ab work was basic moves that we’ve all done without a ball, but the ball somehow serves as a good distraction. You focus on holding the thing, instead of how boring the crunches are.

Kids are a great distraction, as well. They are the ones who make us feel young inside. Life would be pretty boring without the peanut gallery.


My 6-year-old’s imagination was running wild last weekend. When I went outside to check on him and his cousin, he said, “We’re hunting in Africa and have already got three zebras, an elephant, and a couple of birds!”

About 20 minutes later he came running up to me huffing and puffing, pointed to his brother and another cousin who were riding on a four-wheeler and said, “We’re pretending that they’re bad guys – we don’t know what they want with us!”