How to Introduce Someone to Fitness (By Scaring Them With Bears): The Cranky Fitness Guide to Exercise!

by Charlotte on November 30, 2012 · 20 comments

Jan doesn’t actually recommend doing this exercise – she just recommends thinking about it. And then laughing a lot.

Personally, I learned the fundamentals of fitness from a liquid-tanned dude in a banana hammock and a woman who was in all likelihood on the juice. Not everyone is so fortunate. And while I do actually recommend seeking out a pro-bodybuilder for some fitness info – I don’t know any nicer group that knows more about how to both build muscle and cut fat – most people are probably more comfortable starting out with a book or magazine or something else that’s more socially acceptable to take in a public restroom (and doesn’t stain upholstery).

The problem, of course, is that trying to find this info can be like drinking from a firehose. Information overload! Which is probably why I get at least one e-mail a week from a desperate soul asking me to just give them the crib notes version of what they really need to do to get started on their health journey. So I’ve written responses, tried to help, and even wrote a piddly post about it but there’s so much to cover and so many variables that it never seems to be enough. Plus, I try hard not to give real advice. I just don’t know enough yet. I also don’t curse enough.

Thankfully someone else does – both with the knowing and the cursing. Okay mostly just the cursing. But let’s be honest, if there ever was endeavor that warranted a few, ahem, choice words, it’s weight loss. And one of my fave OG’s of blogging, Jan Graham of Cranky Fitness, has come out with an e-book Exercise Your A** Off  that covers both the introduction to healthy living and the sailor speak. Oh, and she’s hilarious!

In addition to covering the essentials like how to decide which type of cardio is best for your personality (hint: if it comes down to hiking or Zumba, just remember you’ll never run into a mama grizzly in a dance studio), she also tells you how to cure ailments you didn’t know you had like BIBD or “bicycle-in-basement disorder” (hint: get a padded seat).

One of my fave sections of her book explains her patent-pending brand of high intensity interval training: Somewhat High Intensity Interval Training. Or… SHIIT. As Jan explains, “It’s quite simple: Almost everyone agrees H.I.I.T. works, but it’s hard. And no one really seems to “own” it, so there’s no money to be made off of a consensus about how to do it.” Which basically means you can make it up as you go! Word.

She even gives you permission to take her e-book into the bathroom with you and instructs you in the art of the Public Toilet Squat so you can hone your quads while you’re honing your intellect. (And also pee.) I’ve heard that’s totally how Einstein worked, right?

See? That’s worth the $3.99 price tag right there! To check her book out you can go the route: Cranky Fitness: Exercise Your A** Off. But for those who don’t have a kindle or haven’t loaded (free) kindle software onto their computers, it’s also available at HyperInk at the Cranky Fitness page as a PDF or iPad, and there’s a Barnes and Noble Cranky Fitness link too. (Note: none of these links are affiliates. I don’t get a cent from promoting her book – I just love her, her blog and her book!)

If you want some other reading material this weekend, here’s my stuff from Shape!

12 Celebs “Reverse-Photoshopped” to less gaunt and less muscular. Is anyone still surprised this happens? How did we even get here? “We’ve become conditioned to expect perfected images of skinny, apparently boneless, smooth little girls in our magazines,” says Jenna Sauers, a model and blogger at “In a certain way, we’ve come to rely on Photoshop to insulate us from the sharp reality of what maintaining an industry-approved fighting weight can do to a human body.” Although Robin Derrick, creative director of British Vogue, sums up the problem best, saying, “I spent the first 10 years of my career making girls look thinner—and the last 10 making them look larger.” Le sigh.

10 Strange But Effective Tips For a Better Marathon. It all started when a male friend confessed to me at the gym “I’m a man and I wear a sports bra. But only on long runs (over 10 miles)! It keeps my shirt from chafing my nipples and it doesn’t rip out my chest hair like Band-Aids. It’s nothing fancy (I like the cheap really stretchy ones) but I will admit to having several different colors!” From there it progressed to diapers tucked into running shorts, jelly beans in cleavage and a q-tip covered in vaseline that… you probably don’t want to know what that one’s for.

Shape Covergirl Cindy Crawford Through the Years. Yep, Cindy Crawford is our latest gal to stand thigh deep in water and smile! And I got to chronicle the timeless beauty’s body (hee!) of work. Looking through hundreds of pictures of a human work of art – Yeah my job is rough. Plus now I’m a fountain of Cindy miscellania! Did you know she was married to Richard Gere?! It happened when I was a baby and they were divorced before I learned to read well enough to skim all the supermarket tabloids whilst pretending I was actually staring intently at Better Homes and Gardens. (I’m sorry Mom.) So that’s my excuse for not knowing. That and the fact my parents wouldn’t let me have MTV.

10 Herbal Remedies That Really Work. Um. Self explanatory.

So how were you first introduced to the basic concepts of health and fitness? Anyone actually ever tried that head-harness thingy? Is that for exercising your neck? Training your ability to levitate objects with your mind?


{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

shayna November 30, 2012 at 2:48 am

Photoshop makes me so sad. I work so hard to look the way I look, imperfections and all. And what does my little sister have to measure herself against? Pictures of “perfect” women. Bummer. I love my stretch marks, my big but kinda saggy boobs (I grew those suckers! Sag if you will, but I grew ‘em, I keep ‘em), my muscles and my vascularity. I can carry my own groceries, cuddle my nephew, and pound out push-ups. And my body looks that way. I live aspects of technology (instagram! Facebook! app!), but anything that makes women not feel good about themselves, zits and all, makes me so sad.


Shayna November 30, 2012 at 2:51 am

Love aspects. Love them. Did I mention I also despise auto correct?!?!? I do.


Kara November 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

Oh Ack. I was reading right along enjoying my morning coffee until I got to the Richard Gere/Cindy Crawford comment. I graduated from college the year they were married. It was a big deal and everyone I knew talked about it.

Damn I’m old! LOL


Jenny C. November 30, 2012 at 9:10 am

I had never heard of that weird helmet/weight thing until recently when my coach was talking about it at kickboxing. I think it is supposed to strengthen your neck, but I’d be afraid of accidentally straining it instead. Crazy!


Geosomin November 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

I don’t get it. Taking muscle out? In a fitness magazine?
Ze world eees crazy now…


Laura November 30, 2012 at 11:27 am

Hi Charlotte – didn’t see a place to post comments on your Shape articles so I thought I’d post it area instead. On the strange but effective tips for a better marathon, I have a BIG issue with the suggestion to wear earplugs. It is incredibly dangerous to block out ambient sound when you run, and that’s why many races have gone as far as banning headphones/iPods – because people keep the volume too high. In-ear headphones are bad enough, but putting in ear plugs is just an awful idea. Can you please revise that and maybe note that earplugs are better suited for treadmill running but not running outside or with others?

Sorry for coming off so harsh – you know I normally love everything you write, but I feel very strongly about this topic! Too many people don’t realize what a problem it is, but many runners each year are hit by cars/bikes/etc. Even in a dedicated road race (where traffic is kept out), runners with headphones are a liability to those around them.


Alyssa (azusmom) November 30, 2012 at 11:29 am

I LOVE Crabby!!!!!!! Just got her book on my Kindle. Now I have something fab to read when I take my car in to be serviced tomorrow…


Crabby McSlacker December 1, 2012 at 9:25 am

Thank you so, so much Alyssa! And hope that car service is affordable and quick and painless… well, and hope the ebook is too!


Nicky November 30, 2012 at 11:49 am

The weighted headgear reminded me of this MMA guy that used to work out at our gym. One day, I was watching him repeatedly bash his head on one of the heavy bags (supposedly to strengthen his neck muscles, I think), when one of the trainers came by and said, “Don’t worry about him. That’s Pavel. He’s old-school.”


Happier Heather November 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

I’m going to have to download that book! I’ve been exercising and keeping better track of what I eat for three years and I’m more confused and lost today than I was when I first started, due to the information overload you reference. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Also, I’d never seen/heard of that headgear before until 10 minutes prior to reading this; I was looking at ordering a clean eating book and was browsing he website and saw it. I wondered what exactly it was for and it looks even more ridiculous to see a picture of it actually ON someone. Some things I will just never understand…nor want to!


Cindy Fatchick November 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I have Crabby’s book and have done my usually thing of reading the juicy how to motivate my butt off the couch part first. No point finding out if hiking or Zumba is better until you have managed to get me up and to the bathroom to brush the teeth. I think everybody appreciates my priorities.


Crabby McSlacker December 1, 2012 at 9:27 am

Thanks so much Cindy! And you just reminded me, damn, still haven’t brushed my teeth this morning! :) Some days that seems like SUCH a hurdle. Thank god for coffee!


Sylvie @ StruggleswithaFatA November 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Book purchased!


Crabby McSlacker December 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

THANK YOU Sylvie!!!!!! Seriously, I am so freakin’ grateful. Hope you enjoy it, or if not, I hope it’s at least not too annoying.


Kim November 30, 2012 at 4:56 pm

I totally recommend Crabby’s book. I downloaded it last week on my Nook and read through very quickly. It was so easy to read and, of course, very entertaining!


Crabby McSlacker December 1, 2012 at 9:23 am

Kim that’s so kind of you! Especially considering what amazing shape you’re in. You are a true fitness inspiration, not a whiner like me!


Jess December 1, 2012 at 3:53 am

I totally used to work with a guy who fit your description to a T, except (thankfully) he wasn’t allowed to wear budgie smugglers in the gym. But he did carry many photos of himself in them! He was very knowledgable on weight training and that was probably about all he was knowledgable on!


Matt December 1, 2012 at 8:02 am

Thank you so much for recommending this Charlitte. I’m always looking for a new perspective on this whole mad fitness culture of ours


Crabby McSlacker December 1, 2012 at 9:22 am

Charlotte, your review of my ebook is WAY too generous, especially given how much more awesome your book is! However, for those who have already read every word you’ve ever written and followed every link you’ve posted (an endeavor I highly recommend!) it’s really sweet of you to mention my little foray into publishing. Thanks so much, and also thanks to those of you brave enough to check it out!


Nate December 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm

There’s a Fijian man in his mid-fifties who has been coming in to the gym for about 2 years now carrying LL Cool J’s ‘Platinum Fitness’. The book is literally falling apart and is being held together by tape. He’s treated it like a bible but has gone from being a guy that dragged his legs in to the gym like a zombie on Valium to being this ferocious attacker of the weights. He’s shaped up, lost a ton of fat and has incredible energy.

He asked me the other day, “Nate! What do I do? I’ve got all this extra energy now but nowhere to put it! should i learn the piano?”


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