Bear Down: Super Bowl Fitness Tips


Bear Down

When the Chips Are Down, Get Some Exercise During Big Game

By Janet Cromley, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 
February 4, 2007 

The Super Bowl is coming. Time to tighten up, close the gaps and hunker down -- on the couch.

Some fans have been in training for months, logging hours on the Barcalounger, moving as little as possible while reaching for Skittles and beer. On Sunday, they'll be going for the burn.

In fact, during the game, as the average 300-pound Indianapolis Colt or Chicago Bear lineman rips through an estimated 4,000 calories, most viewers will burn bupkis. Well, almost bupkis. A standard-issue 180-pound Super Bowl fan will kill off about 265 calories cheering and shuffling around on the couch over the three-plus hours of viewing.

And fans will do all this while pounding down a breathtaking lineup of snacks -- 30 million pounds in all, representing 27 billion calories and 1.8 billion grams of fat, according to the Calorie Control Council in Atlanta, an association for the low-calorie food and beverage industry.

Although Super Bowl eating is a team sport, it's individual effort that matters. The average viewer will polish off approximately 50 grams of fat and 1,200 calories in beer, guacamole and other snacks during the game, says Calorie Control Council dietitian Robin Steagall.

For a healthier Super Bowl, trainers and various do-gooder health associations inevitably recommend cutting fat and calories by substituting junk food with low-fat snacks and yada yada yada, but we have a better idea.

During the game -- instead of exercising your constitutional right to eat Doritos from an artfully constructed reclining position -- channel that emotion into carefully crafted, trainer approved Super Bowl exercises.

Outlined below, the officially unsanctioned NFL exercise guide to Pepsi Super Bowl XLI is designed to reduce ailments commonly associated with extended Super Bowl viewing: stomach distention, lumbar atrophy and gluteal enlargement.

The payoff?

When someone says, "It's a blowout," they won't be talking about you.

The early part of the pregame show is an opportunity to stretch. This will prime your muscles for the exercise to come. The pregame show is four hours, so there's no rush.

After stretching, watch the show closely. The exercises are designed to be performed on certain cues -- either plays on the field or comments from the booth.

Here's how it works.

Football fans know that certain events and comments can be predicted during any given Super Bowl. The mere location of the game, held this year at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., offers clues to what the pregame show will cover.

In addition to trotting out glamour shots of grilled sausages and ribs, pregame hosts James Brown, Shannon Sharpe, Boomer Esiason and Dan Marino will no doubt do a splashy feature on local indigenous cuisine. They may pull out a clip of an alligator farm or someone frying or barbecuing alligator meat. If they call these fritters "gator tots," that's your cue to do the Up-Down Beer Cheer.

Herewith, your easy-to-follow guide:

If ...

-- CBS airs a bit called "Peyton's Place," showing Colts quarterback Peyton Manning at home throwing the football around with dad Archie, and maybe playing Pictionary with little brother Eli, do the Seated Touchdown Dance.

-- The announcers use the term "football dynasty," or show Peyton giving Eli a wedgy, do the Couch Potato Crunch.

-- Bears coach Lovie Smith expresses 100 percent confidence in his quarterback, Rex Grossman, and does it with a straight face and without his eye twitching, do four Beer-Keg Pumps.

-- The network does a retrospective on the Bears' 1985 Super Bowl shuffle, and Brown and Boomer re-create the shuffle in the studio, do the shuffle at double time.

This is the cardio portion of your exercise plan. Your personal trainers are CBS' sportscasting A team: Jim Nantz on the play-by-play and Super Bowl XXI MVP Phil Simms on color.

Marino will reportedly help with the coin toss, which is when Simms will probably mention the Hall of Famer's contributions to various charitable causes, the city of Miami and the Earth in general. Perform the Up-Down Beer Cheer if they mention that he was 27th pick in the 1983 draft or call him an institution.

If it's a high-scoring game, you're in luck, because each score is accompanied by an exercise.

If . . .

-- Your team scores a touchdown, do the Seated Touchdown Dance.

-- There's a touchdown celebration in the end zone, reenact it twice, once at double-speed.

-- Your opponent scores a touchdown or field goal, do the Trash Toss.

-- Your team or the opponent scores a safety or two-point conversion, do the Furniture Shuffle.

-- Your team scores a field goal, do the Field Goal Dance.

-- The opposing coach calls a timeout to rattle the kicker, do the Couch Potato Crunch. When the timeout doesn't work -- it never does -- do the crunch double-time.

-- Your team has to punt, or it's third and long, do the Rally Circuit.

Certain nonscoring events are also exercise-triggers.

If . . .

-- Simms points out the quirky personality of kickers, the camera pans to the kicker's wife and she's blond, or someone mentions the salaries of long snappers: Trash Toss.

-- Nantz or Simms describes how many gallons of guacamole are consumed on Super Bowl Sunday or how many toilets flush at halftime: Chip 'n' Dip Rotation/Serve.

-- Simms points out how good one of the refs looks in his shirt or mentions that Nantz once roomed with Fred Couples: Furniture Shuffle.

-- Someone, anyone, declares, "There are four quarters in the game of football and you've got to play every one": Beer Keg Pumps. Possible variation: "There's 30 minutes left to play, and that's a lot of football."

-- Any of the announcers mentions the Oklahoma University-Boise State game, re-enact the Statue of Liberty play and Hook and Ladder.

-- Any player or coach embarks on a particularly vigorous rant, particularly if it involves kicking the Gatorade bucket, re-enact the rant. Be careful not to pull a hammy.

The halftime entertainment is Prince, a name synonymous with football. Naturally, all participants should re-enact Prince's patented signature moves. For every deep knee bend, do one but not as deep. For pelvic thrusts, you may wish to steady yourself by placing a hand on the couch.

If . . .

-- Prince smiles, completes a sentence, or appears to find the experience more enjoyable than hernia surgery: Up-Down Beer Cheer.

-- The announcers compare the 5-foot-2-inch Prince to sawed-off quarterback Doug Flutie: five Beer Keg Pumps.

-- Prince has a wardrobe malfunction: Trash Toss.

-- Any other entertainer or announcer has a wardrobe malfunction: Coffee Table Butt Squeeze.

During the second half of the game, fatigue may set in. This is called "the wall." Work through the exhaustion and continue the exercises until the final second.

At the end of the game, celebrate victory with extended Beer Cheers or acknowledge the loss with four dejected Keg Pumps for every turnover and undeserved penalty that doomed your team.

Elite athletes know to set realistic goals and adhere to proper goals and rewards. We recommend you do the same. Go get a beer.

To counteract the effects of salty snacks and beer, you need to stay fully hydrated throughout the game, with water, says Equinox fitness manager Megan Butacan. Like most trainers and nutritionists, Butacan pushes the healthy snacks. "At least eat a carrot," she advises.

Another way to boost your fitness during the game, Steagall says, is to do sit-ups during commercials. She knows from personal experience that it's possible to do 1,000 sit-ups during Super Bowl commercial breaks.

"Someone in better shape than me could do even more," she says, "and probably not be in as much pain afterward."

For those who find the notion of exercising during the Super Bowl disrespectful to the principles of Super Bowl home viewership, there's an intriguing alternative.

Instead of exercising, lie on the couch, stare at the TV and visualize yourself doing the exercises.

This might confer some toning because just thinking about exercise might have some benefits, according to a 1992 study by researchers at the University of Iowa. The study, published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, found that a four-week program that involved imagining exercising part of the hand resulted in a significant increase in hand strength over a control group.

The implications for your Super Bowl watching are obvious, says trainer Steve Zim, owner of A Tighter U, in Culver City, and coauthor of "6 Weeks to a Hollywood Body."

Even from your couch, says Zim, who works with elite athletes, including Olympic figure skaters and body builders, "If you can visualize the exercise, see yourself doing push-ups in between plays, that might work out for you." While it won't give you the body of league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, he says, "it's better than nothing."

An even better strategy, he adds, is to watch the game while on a treadmill or bike, especially if your team is losing. Even if the endorphins don't blunt the pain of a good thumping, physical exhaustion will.

Zim, for one, is skeptical about Super Bowl exercise. "Exercising in front of guests might be considered peculiar," he says carefully. On the other hand, if it's just you and your spouse, you might get away with it.

"Your spouse married you for better or worse," he says. "This is the worse."