A Non-Boring, Physical, and Creative Exercise from My Youth
Exercise is BORING. This means it is hard for me to enjoy doing it, and when I do not enjoy doing something, there is a good chance I won't do it. That is why I continue to find new and exciting ways to exercise. However, to make exercise fun, it is sometimes beneficial to bring back a physical activity you did as a kid.
I don't really have a name for this exercise routine. Lately, I have been calling it "Imaginary basketball." Essentially, it is a basketball game involving only yourself. You take control of both teams and dictate how they perform. This is something I did all the time as kid, and as an adult, I’ve rediscovered it and retooled it to meet my exercise and creative needs. If it is something that appeals to you, I hope you embrace it and use it to improve your health. (Also, there is a part of me that hopes it catches on and becomes popular, so I feel less weird about doing it.)
Step 1. Get a Nerf Hoop or Other Nerf-Like Hoop
Nerf hoops are the standard over-the-door basketball hoop. However, other companies do make similar hoops. The hoop I use is one that has been in my family for decades. My grandfather made it, and my dad played with it as a kid. When I was a kid, I played with it, and I still do as an adult.
A word of caution: Be careful about the material out of which the hoop is made. It might scratch up your door. I take a Kleenex or a napkin and put it in between the hoop and my door to protect my door.
Step 2. Find an Appropriate Ball
The over-the-door hoops are not the most sturdy hoops in the world. It would be wise to not pick a ball that will be too heavy for the hoop. It Is not hard to tell if a ball is too heavy for the rim. If the amount a rim bends when a ball hits it makes you nervous, then the ball is too heavy.
This is also an appropriate time to point out that dunking is probably not the best idea. If you dunk it and break the hoop, then game over. Game over means you will not get to complete this exercise, and you might be forced to do some other form of exercise which would be boring.
Step 3. Pick out Some Participating Teams (and GET CREATIVE!)
The key part of this exercise is to imagine two teams are playing each other. This is an opportunity to be creative. A rematch of the Cavaliers/Warriors NBA Finals is boring. That happens every year. Take it to the next level. What would happen if the ‘96 Bulls played today’s Minnesota Timberwolves? Playing as these teams encourages you to play in the same way as those players. For example, if Steph Curry is on one of the teams, whoever he is guarding on the other team will score a lot because he doesn’t play defense.
Having one NBA team from one point in history playing another team from another point in history is fun and all, but if you wanted to get even more creative, add some crazy teams into the mix. What would happen if your 6th-grade basketball team played a team made up of the founding fathers? This allows you to remember your old teammates and how they played, and you are forced to imagine how guys like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington would have played basketball. One thing I used to do a lot as a kid is have characters from my favorite TV shows play each other. In the near future, I plan to have a tournament of teams made up of characters from the various Star Trek TV shows.
Step 4. Determine How Long the Games Should Be
If you are playing with NBA teams or college teams, it is easy to determine whether you will play with quarters or halves. However, when it comes to how long your periods should be, think about whether you want all of your exercise to come from one game or if you would like to play more than one game in an exercise session. If you are playing a tournament, I suggest having shorter periods, so you can get your tournament done quickly. I have found that the longer a tournament or season goes on, the less likely I am to crown a champion.
Step 5. Game on!
Before the game can begin, you need to know who is going to get the ball first. Start your game by shooting for possession, doing a coin toss, or conducting an imaginary jump ball, keeping in mind the heights of the centers on your teams. If you are not going to remember who got the ball first, you might want to write it down, so you can know who gets the ball to start the next period or if there is a jump ball. (Yes, it is possible to have a jump ball when you are playing basketball by yourself. If you can’t fathom how a jump ball could occur when you are the only one playing, then you have a limited imagination, and this form of exercise might not be for you.) Alternatively, you could allow yourself to forget, so you can choose who gets the ball net based on what would make the most exciting game.
The key to making this a good physical exercise is to make the game exciting. You are in control of how this game is played out. It is up to you to determine how each player on each team would play in this game. Look at the matchups. Who is going to have the upper hand on whom in this game? Where are the mismatches? If one team is far better than the other, what would it take for the underdog to win? If it is a close game at the end, you will be working hard to keep both teams fighting desperately for the win. Remember: The more running and sweating you do, the better your work out will be.
Step 6. Crown a champion
When the final buzzer sounds, one team will be left standing. Do they move on in your tournament, or do they just mark another tally in the win column? I have found that it is more exciting if the teams are battling it out for a championship of some kind. As you move deeper in the tournament or season, teams become more desperate to win. The tension grows, and the celebrations when one team wins become more extravagant. This is another opportunity to get in some extra exercise. When a team celebrates, how do they do so? Do they run around like crazy? Do they jump up and down a lot? Or do they show no emotion at all?
One thing I do to help make these imaginary basketball games exciting is to put obstacles (usually a laundry basket) in the way. These can act as defenders or an absent-minded referee. Maneuvering around these can make things more interesting and create opportunities to force “and 1” situations.
Another way to make things exciting is to, not play a full game, but create some scenarios where a team needs to make an incredible comeback. This will challenge you to get more creative and worker harder. The drawback to doing it this way is the games are short. You will need to do more of them to fill up your allotted exercise time. However, this could mean you have the ability to do a full season in one exercise session.