SELF MAGAZINE, December 2000, page 168
ONE HAZARD OF BEING a comedian is that I don't recall every clever quip that comes out of my mouth. Apparently, last year, someone from SELF asked me when I as getting married. (She wasn't just being cruel--I am engaged.) I answered, "As soon as I can wear a sleeveless dress."
On Boot Camp Day, we found exercise equipment in the park.
With those words, my fate was sealed. I wound up testing this countdown-to-wedding-day workout for SELF: 30 workouts in 30 days. Of course, once I started, I forgot about the wedding, the dress, the arms--I just wanted to figure out a way to get back at SELF for making me exercise so much.
WORKOUT 1 A stranger squeezes you-without a dinner date first. This is the "easy" workout. You run and stretch for the trainer and let him measure your body fat. The Fat Test is the one test that you don't want to get a really high grade in. All I remember is that a trainer at Equinox Fitness Club in New York City grabbed me by my upper-arm fat-he made a handle from my flesh. Eeew. I burned a ton of calories from mental anguish alone.
I loved yoga with Mark Blanchard - when the class ended.
WORKOUT 2 I get spun out. I love Spinning. They should call it Thinning. It changes the shape of your butt and is highly addictive. It's amazing cardio work. I swear that I Spin at least four times a week in Los Angeles, but I almost passed out in Ary Nunez's class at Equinox.
WORKOUT 3 I play with balls. My trainer, Paul Frediani, introduced me to a giant red ball that actually makes sit-ups and push-ups fun-and more challenging. You use your core (all those muscles in your torso) to balance your body on the ball. Doing push-ups the traditional way makes me feel like I'm being punished because I didn't clean the latrine. I did have an overwhelming desire to bounce out of the room.
I'd stretch all day to avoid another wacky workout!
WORKOUT 4 My fans come in handy. I was awakened (very early) by Team SELF--I like to call them The SELF-ish. We went to Central Park to participate in Boot Camp with Paul. (He teaches this class in the Hamptons, if you happen to be a masochist with money.) We did wall squats against a tree--hateful nature. Then we went to a playground to see how we could ruin the happy memories of childhood by using the teeter-totter as an exercise device. We didn't get far: The jungle gyms were full of school children--fans of Aunt Hilda, my character on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. I've never, ever been so happy to see fans.
Boxing (with SELF's Shaun Dreisbach) allows me to imagine punching everyone who hasn't returned my calls this week.
WORKOUT 5 Baby-sitting burns calories. I borrowed my 10-month-old nephew, Robbie, for a day, strapped him into his stroller and race-walked a total of 58 blocks (that's three miles), pushing a baby. Excellent workout. Totally exhausting. Attempting to open stroller: 500 bonus calories.
Halfway through Gyrotonics with Louisa Laurie I was wishing for gin and tonics.
WORKOUT 6 SELF sends me a vintage Jane Fonda Workout tape. Did they assume I'd burn extra calories laughing at the '80s hair and leg warmers? I learned this much: It's no fluke that Fonda looks the way she does. The moves aren't any easier than they were 15 years ago.
WORKOUT 7-8 I jump at the chance to Spin again. This time, it's with Dee Sweet-Slade, owner of HomeSpun in Los Angeles. She comes to my house (with a bike!). Shaking up my routine must have helped--I made it through her 60-minute workouts feeling energized, not depleted.
Yoga always makes me amazed at what my body can do.
WORKOUT 9 I tangle with resistance bands. I did this in my Dallas hotel room before a stand-up show. The instructions from SELF promised an easy strength workout, but I couldn't get the hang of it. And they didn't warn me to wear pants, not shorts, for the leg exercises, so the oversized rubber bands provided an archaic form of hair removal.
WORKOUT 10 I practice yoga in paradise. This was the highlight of my 30-day marathon. The Greenhouse Spa in Arlington, Texas, is gorgeous--I feel that at any time Miss Ellie from Dallas would come 'round the corner. My friend Jude and I took a yoga class with Jenni Fox and Paul Gould, whose positive energy reinstated my love of yoga.
What you can accomplish in 30 days
In a month of five to six workouts a week, like those Caroline Rhea did, contributing editor Kathy Smith says you can expect to:
- Easily lose a pound or two a week (calorie-intake permitting).
- Start to see definition in your shoulders and arms.
- Feel more confident.
- Noticeably lift your rear.
- Drop half a dress size.
- Feel an energy boost.
- Carry yourself better. (Who needs heels when you've got great posture?)
I almost passed out in Ary Nunez's Spinning Class.
WORKOUT 11 I sweat off three pounds on The Late Show With David Letterman. Letterman is one of my idols--performing on his show has been a huge goal of mine. Here's the best part: I burn calories across the board. The stage is freezing, so my body heats up, burning calories in the process. Dave is quite handsome--so I flirt, which increases my heart rate. I say something stupid, like "You have the same birthday as David Cassidy," which makes me sick with humiliation so I can't eat for days. It's really like going to a spa, so I didn't feel guilty about skipping my SELF workout that day.
I'm so strong I can hold up a tree! (That's SELF's Bari Nan Cohen helping me out.)
WORKOUT 12 Paul and I hit the gym. At Equinox, we used various Cybex machines for three sets of eight reps, with two minutes on the treadmill in between. Did hideous lunges. I know they make your butt all high and round, but they hurt me for days. They're the hangover-inducer of exercise.
WORKOUT 13 It's the medieval torture hour! With its intimidating-looking contraptions, the YogaMoves Gyrotonic Expansion System Studio in New York City looked like the dreamland of a top athlete-dominatrix. It turns out that using the machines will strengthen and stretch my muscles. To me, they looked like the inside of a watch, and while I used them, time stood still. I did feel taller the next day.
Can you tell I'm balance-impaired?
WORKOUT 14 I'm a knockout! Boxing is great aerobic exercise. It also keeps you alert because at any time you could get punched, and that hurts. After "sparring" with Paul I felt like my lats (the muscles in the wide part of your back) had been replaced with marble slabs. Boxing's strength comes from your legs, so it's a great allover "Owie!"-inducing workout.
WORKOUT 15-16 I fight gym boredom. I arrived in Toronto to film the role of Mom in Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire. After one uninspired hotel-treadmill workout (snore!), I grabbed a book from SELF's care package--Precor Presents Alberto Salazar Treadmill Training and Workout Guide (Hatherleigh Press)--and did its cool Mountain Climb workout. Much better.
WORKOUT 17 Hooray, I found a swimming pool! So what if my hair turns green? All the aliens will want me now. Swimming is a favorite of mine. It's great for the arms (which ached afterward, thank you). An hour of laps in the hotel pool in Detroit before yet another stand-up gig was relaxing.
My trainer Paul, teaching me "buddy resistance."
WORKOUT 18-25 I'm battling burnout. Back in Toronto, I discovered a gadget in the comer of the hotel gym called the Body Trek. It was all the fun of skiing without having to use the chairlift. Afterward, I was so sweaty, I looked as if I had gone through a car wash. I loved it. I used it twice.
Next, my older sister Celia took me to The Yoga Sanctuary. Sometimes you don't realize that your best friend is angry with you until you're on a blind date that she arranged and you think, Clearly, she's upset with me about something. That's also true about Celia taking me to John Soluna's killer class--three times!
I also did one treadmill workout and flirted with an elliptical machine before I switched to the recumbent bike.
When I'm not using it for push-ups, this red ball makes a great chair.
WORKOUT 26-27 I get creative. Celia rescued me with our very own '70s dance party. We boogied for an hour. I burned at least 300 calories. (Sneakers and sports bra required.)
Next, knowing that the SELF team has no sense of boundaries and could check up on me at any time, I invented my own calisthenics. I skipped rope for 10 two-minute intervals in between the following exercises: three sets of 15 lunges using 8-pound hand weights (begin with hands holding dumbbells at hips; as you lunge, bring weights up to shoulders, overhead, return to shoulders and come out of lunge as you lower weights to hips--pretty clever, huh?); two sets of 25 sit-ups; two sets of 8 push-ups; four sets of 25 leg lifts.
WORKOUT 28 I am obsessed with the testimonials on the cover of Body for Life, by Bill Phillips (HarperCollins). So much so that I return to the hotel gym. SELF sent me this book, and it has had the most impact on me. It's an inspiring workout/nutrition/self-help book with doable exercise instructions. I tried all of the upper-body ones. The book promises results in 12 weeks. I'll send you a picture in March.
WORKOUT 29 I survive Power Yoga--barely. I was intimidated when I asked Mark Blanchard, the owner of Yogatime in Beverly Hills, how hard his class was and he told me that he couldn't finish his own tape. Within 30 minutes, I looked like Albert Brooks during the flop-sweat scene in Broadcast News. I didn't mind that my arms ached for days--doing yoga feels like I'm physically praying.