Keep Fit by Laughing All the Way to the Bank

Article excerpt

IN CELEBRITY circles in California there is a hot new way of keeping fit. It is called recess training, recess being the American word for playtime. The concept is wonderfully simple. Children burn off a fantastic number of calories by running around, so by replicating their playground games adults, too, can get great exercise, using muscle groups otherwise under-employed.

Jennifer Lopez and Cindy Crawford are but two of the stars said to have fallen for - sorry, to favour - this idea, which, inevitably, has now crossed the Atlantic.

Here it has been renamed circuit circus, and involves souped-up games of stuck-in-the-mud, musical bumps, hopscotch and leapfrog. If they introduce catch-a-girl, kiss-a-girl, or better still kiss, command, dare, truth or promise (which my wife, who obviously went to an inferior primary school, insists on calling truth, dare, kiss or promise), then I might be persuaded to enrol.

The possibilities are truly exciting. Those who prefer a gentle workout could play conkers, marbles, or even have a session of Simon Says, while those who wish for something a little more active could play British Bulldog, or enjoy a game of "donkey" against the back of an ersatz bikeshed. And those in pursuit of genuine exhilaration as well as basic cardiovascular exercise could play hide-and-seek, or better still run up to a man pretending to be the school caretaker, call him "smelly bum" and then scarper.

All this would yield considerable psychological as well as physical benefits. For more than 30 years I have felt guilty about not showing Lynn Kershaw mine, even though she showed me hers. By replicating school playtime, ostensibly in the name of keeping fit, dozens of deep psychological scars might be erased. Recess training can help us to get emotionally as well as aerobically fit; moreover, it offers an innocent regression to childhood at a time when an adult view of the world is filled with horror and foreboding. …