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the Gauntlet

Pink Flamingo Challenge: An old-school slacker

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The workout assignment: Workout 40 times over four months and turn this skinny body into toned carbon steel.

Status: Failed.

The writing assignment: Describe the entire workout experience, from fatty food-fueled start to flexed fitness-finish in a fun, quirky, self-deprecating way sure to educate budding body-building buffs everywhere.

Status: Maybe.

The results are in, sort of. After four months of clear-cut, pre-planned workout discipline--inspired by the University of Calgary's 40th anniversary--the conclusion is less than simple. Apparently devoting four hours per week to a highly structured, yet do-it-yourself workout regime is harder than agreeing to devote your- self to a highly structured, yet do-it-yourself workout regime.

Seriously though, the Pink Flamingo Challenge was designed as an all-access point for aspiring fitness fans, regardless of experience or stamina. In that regard it succeeded, at least as far as it could in a culture built around instant gratification, cheap entertainment and self-denial. Although Gauntlet sports editor Jon Roe and I agreed to face off in a head-to-head challenge--him working under a "new-school" regime devoted to things like core workouts and cardio exercise, while I was devoted to an "old-school" workout based around push-ups, sit-ups and medicine ball torture--in the end nobody won. Or more precisely, Jon and I are clearly losers.

Less precisely, but more succinctly, there are a lot of reasons why people abandon their workout regimes, but all hope is not lost.

"I think there are two main reasons," says Jennifer Dowler, U of C "boot camp sergeant" and designer of the old-school regimen. "Life just gets in the way, and people don't give the results a fair chance. They want to see results immediately. They don't look at the results like, 'I'm sleeping better and I have more energy,' they want to see their pants a size too big."

A self-confessed "hardass," Dowler knows how to motivate.

"I do push people, but my big one-liner is that this is your workout," she says. "Only you know if you're being challenged. Once you stop for a couple of days, it's that much more motivation to get back into it. Just try to incorporate it into your daily life. Even if it's just a matter of sticking to the stairs, not the elevator."

Apparently, getting back into it can be tough for quitters like us, since we both abandoned our new lifestyles when the going got just an itty-bitty tough--especially Jon.

"I just couldn't handle it," says Jon Roe, sports editor. "When I saw how much you dominated me in the preliminary testing I just crumpled. I knew it was hopeless. "

There you have it. My serious domination of Jon aside, the old-school workout plan is unsurprisingly straightforward and, assuming that most monkeys have more self-discipline than the average Gauntlet editor, a monkey could pull this thing off. Especially with a drill sergeant like Dowler.

"Always warm up," she says. "Be sure you stretch. Stretching is huge for flexibility and weight loss. Do 30 minutes at once, take a ten minute walk. It's quality over quantity. If you can only do two push-ups, that's fine. Don't do 10 bad ones."

Dowler's exercises are simple, but effective. Besides one half-hour session devoted to cardio, she advises splitting the week into two regimes. Two days a week, you should do the following:

Squats: Using weights stand with feet shoulder length apart. Squat to 90 degrees. Do eight to 12 reps.

Leg lunges: Do eight of these on each leg.

Side Lunges: Hold weights with your legs spread wide, lunge from side to side touching the weight to the floor 16 times for each leg.

Glute lift: Lie on your back with your heels on top of a chair. Grab the legs of the chair and lift your glutes (ass) off the floor 16 times.

Ski jumps: Put a pillow on the floor and pretend to slalom down a black diamond run, jumping from side to side over the pillow 16 times. Keep your feet together. Ski goggles optional, but recommended.

March in place: March in place.

Plank: Hold a push-up in mid position.

Sit-ups: You remember, the traumatizing experience from junior high. Relive it 20 times.

Leg extension: On your back again. Lift knees so feet are parallel to the floor. With your hands behind your head, lift your shoulders off the ground. Lower one leg towards floor. Repeat with opposite leg. 16 times each.

On two other days per week do :

Push-ups: 8-12, back straight.

High jogs: Hold your hands in front at mid torso and jog in place bringing your knees up to your hands for about a minute.

Tricep dips: Sit on a chair with your hands at your sides. Lift your body with your hands until your butt just touches the chair, knees bent. Lower the body down until elbows are 90 degrees. Repeat 12 times.

Skipping: Do it for up to two minutes.

Tricep push-ups: Do eight to 12 push-ups, but make sure to keep your hands close together and your elbows in.

Bicep curls: Grab some weights and stand with your legs shoulder width apart. With your arms at your sides and your elbows in a fixed position, perform seven curls from the lower position to 90 degrees from your shoulder joint and seven from the upper position to the lower.

Burpees: Ask your dad, it's worth it.

March in place: Do it.

Slow push-ups: Like push-ups, but way slower. Do four then hold the fifth for four counts.

The Superman: Lie on your stomach, arms out, like uh, Superman. Slowly raise opposite arm and leg off floor. Repeat 20 times.

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