You look ridiculous and everyone’s staring at you: Cheap tricks for crip fitness

By Saint Pikachu

If you’ve taken my advice and gotten your busted ass into the gym

…there – did you survive?

Can you make it through another day? Or did you succumb to complications of terminal self-consciousness and the shame of looking like a goof?

Don’t be fooled by my intoxicating internet charisma and love of dirty jokes – in life, I’m actually quite shy, and like most shy people, I find the thought of being stared at or laughed at positively mortifying. That can make working out in public especially challenging – my body moves differently than most bodies, which tends to attract attention.

And while that attention is almost always kind and well-intentioned, hearing “Are you doing OK, ma’am?” from the sweet little knock-kneed freshman pressing 50 lbs on the next bench over kinda deflates my fantasy of looking like Grace Jones in Conan the Destroyer. Or maybe Lou Ferrigno, with better hair.

Of course, self-consciousness isn’t just the domain of the crippled. Really, anyone whose body looks different – very large or very small, older, in some way not like the manic spandexed Hitler Youth that seem to populate most gym ads – can feel a bit intimidated or awkward in the gym, especially when just getting started.

Thing is, the best way to shake that self-consciousness – the best way I’ve found, at any rate – is to confront it head-on by doing something that looks bizarre and letting the normals stare. Making a spectacle of yourself, in other words.

So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite ridiculous exercises for crips and gimps and other weirdos.

The “equipment” for each is cheap or free, and especially beneficial to crippled folks. The “exercises” are silly and fun and they will kick your ass. I have (oh GOD) included pictures to illustrate. Caveat: I’m no expert in wellness or exercise or anything else, so if you wanna try any of the dumb shit I do, please be careful.

Ball Smackin’

Whatcha need: A SOFT medicine ball, like the one here. This one’s 10 lbs, but they come lighter and heavier. I got this one for $15 on sale.

Whatcher gonna do: While sitting, toss the ball as high as you can and catch it as high as you can. When you catch it, slam it to the ground. (If you do it right, your cat should walk out of the room in disgust.)

Alternatively, try tossing as you squat (how’s that for eloquence?). (Don’t knock over the Christmas tree, or you’ll get yelled at – trust me.)

Crip Approved: Because the ball is soft, it won’t hurt you the way a traditional dumbbell or kettleball will if you accidentally hit yourself with it or drop it on yourself. I’ve bashed myself in the face with this sucker plenty of times and gotten only light bruises at worst – a dumbbell would have broken my nose.

What else can you do with it? Any exercise you’d do with the same weight dumbbell: throw and catch with a partner, terrify your pets, etc.


Whatcha need: A box big enough to kneel in comfortably. Boxes are available at packing stores, warehouses, and fine liquor stores throughout the country.

Whatcher gonna do: Kneel in the box, lean forward, stretch arms and place hands on the floor in front of you, pull self across the floor. (Purple fedora optional, but recommended.)

This is also a fun one to take outside and use to scare folks at the park. (“Ooh, I gotta make it to the swings before Jimmy Tennerman or else I’ll never get a turn!”)

Crip Approved: This is great for when your legs are too weak or sloppy to use safely. Plus, you’re already on the floor, so you needn’t worry about falling.

What else can you do with it? Fill it with something heavy for lifts, get a bunch and have a box fight with a partner, bring your groceries home from Costco.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Whatcha need: A rig and a tree. This rig is something called a speed trainer – I picked it up on clearance for $20. You can also make your own rig with bungees/resistance bands and a weight belt (tie bungees/bands into a long rope, tie one end of your bungee/band rope to tree, put on weight belt backwards – flat part over your stomach, buckle in the back – and tie the other end of your rope to the belt).

Whatcher gonna do: Run/walk/shuffle away from the tree as fast as you can. As you get further away, the resistance of your rope will increase, making it harder to stay on your feet.

(“Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA? Is that what you’re telling me?!”)

Crip Approved: Walking with any sort of resistance is great for both strength and balance, and with this the resistance increases gradually, allowing you to rest or move as slowly as you need to.

What else can you do with it? Turn around and play tug-o-war, construct an ill-advised but really cool giant catapult.

There you have it, my lovelies – some activities sure to help you get strong and entertain your audience all at the same time.

Because honestly, that’s what your self-consciousness really is: stage fright. Not the fear that people are looking at you but the fear that they don’t like what they see.

If you look different, for whatever reason, folks are going to look at you – you’re always going to have an audience. So you’d better give them a good show, hadn’t you?