Letting your “freak flag” fly during fitness

From vanity license plates to bling-encrusted cell phone covers, personal expression has become a way of life in the United States. Everyone admires the shy friend who tries stand-up comedy or that guy in corporate accounting that attended rock and roll fantasy camp. Traditionally staid wedding processionals can now erupt into dance video sensations and seemingly random strangers have no problem embracing their inner Broadway in flash mobs. But while we applaud these expressions of individuality, one place where you don’t often see someone’s freak flag fly is during fitness.

Conforming to the teacher’s instructions is rightly embraced during body pump, spin classes, zumba or whatever floats your exercise boat. My friends who compete in triathlons attack their swimming, running and cycling training with almost mechanical precision.  I fully understand the benefits of tried and proven methods from certified instructors. However, people doing things a little differently on their own are often mocked. Like in this video from a London fitness club, posted by the Daily Mail, which two guys took of a woman who appears to be executing disco steps and ballet-like leaps on a treadmill.

Yeah, I laughed my butt off the first time the video started. Then it got me thinking. Perhaps picturing herself as a Studio 54 Disco Diva got this woman off the couch and into a higher heart rate zone. If she’s not hurting herself or disrupting anyone else’s workout, can we learn from her lack of inhibitions?  I myself have been called “Stevie Wonder” by friends for unwittingly rocking back and forth from side to side on elliptical machines while lip-synching to new tunes on my workout mixes.  The teasing doesn’t bother me, since having fun keeps me there longer. And if someone thinks I look like a geek, while there might be a kernel of truth in that, I’m probably having a better time than they are getting into shape.

What is the most unusual thing you’ve seen someone else do while pursuing fitness? Have you ever let your freak flag fly while working out?



  1. Brenda Rothschild says:

    what about ” newspaper guy”. He brings his New York Sunday Times to spin class and reads it on the bike. Also we have bauble head guy who bobs his head and wears sunglasses in spin class. I think both are freaks

  2. faye miller says:

    I think its great !! Better than some of these asses who just SIT on the machines, usually obese, and don`t move and stare into space or talk on cell phone. Irritates the crap out of me!!!

    Me, Mrs. Miiler Shira`s classy Mom

  3. I guess you know my ‘freak’ angle. I was a runner – nothing too amazing, but did my share of 5ks, 10ks, and one half-marathon. Then, after being bitten on the foot by a copperhead snake and almost losing my foot, I did some research on the anatomy of the foot. I quickly became intrigued with barefoot running – it sounded healthier, liberating, and yes, just freaky enough to appeal to my desire to do things a little differently.

    I have run barefoot and in Vibrams (those freaky toe shoes) for two years now, and am about to buy my first pair of Huarache running sandals, inspired by the book “Born to Run”. We’ll see what happens.

    Not sure if that qualifies as ‘freak flag’ waving material, but to some people, I know it does. Because they’ve told me as much. ;-)

    • Tommy, I have to admit that I laughed the first time I saw someone wear the Vibrams last year in Hawaii. But I’ve since learned they are amazing for runners. Have you seen the latest version that look like human feet? Sorry that it took a snake bite to prompt your interest, but your great health is a testament to its non-freakiness. ;)

  4. Love your comments especially the mention of your “tri” friends! We do attack our workouts with some freaky precision. If you don’t have a strategic plan for a race you will be waving a “white flag” for someone to pick you up off the side of the road.