Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Every time I go to the health club to work out, other people give me the hairy eyeball because I sweat, grunt, gasp, and strain. I figured it was their problem until one of the trainers pulled me aside and said I was “creating stress.” Apparently management discourages any kind of physical activity that is too extreme to allow the participant to continue a friendly conversation.

It seems there are some people who consider my noisemaking to be a form of showing off, as if I’m trying to impress the crowd with how hard I’m working. And it’s partially true, Dr. Babooner. I AM working hard. But I assumed at an exercise club, EVERYONE would be working. I expected a big room full of treadmills and free weights to be an environment where my natural exertions would go unnoticed.

Not so.

One day I took a look around and it seemed like I was the only one in the whole place who was out of breath. And then I noticed another thing – for a health club, everyone but me seemed to be pretty flabby. I walked by these two guys on elliptical trainers who were having a pleasant chat about how they always come to the club at the same time – real creatures of habit. I snuck a peek at their heart rates – 92 and 85! That’s almost a resting pulse!

I went back to my machine and bore down. I started panting and grunting like a bison in heat. I could tell it bothered them, but I didn’t care. When I walked by their machines later, they hadn’t sped up at all but their heart rates were around 150 each! I figured the stress I created was giving their hearts a vigorous aerobic workout – perhaps the only one they’d ever get.

I’ve been going there at the same time for six weeks now, and though I’ve become hoarse from all my noisemaking (only some of it was make-believe), I do think I’m having a positive effect. The one guy looks like he’s lost about five pounds, and other one has much better facial color. And they both seem to be angry most of the time, which means my remote-control “Stressercise” program is working!

Management is telling me to hand in my pass key but I don’t want to quit – I’m worried about what will happen to my antagonists if I leave. What if their exasperation about my grunts is the only thing keeping them alive?

Sincerely,
Arrrrrgh Gwaaaaahphutz

I told Arrrrrgh he is a very kind and under appreciated citizen who has all the best intentions, but he is taking too much responsibility for other people. Although he may feel that he’s having a positive effect on the health of his antagonists, he can’t guarantee the physical health of others. I can certainly imagine the loud and troubling sounds he must have to make – what an unselfish price to pay – geniuses and philanthropists are always misunderstood. My advice – relent and cave to the wishes of management, but keep my number handy in case you decide to seek investors to take “Stressercise” to the next level!

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

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52 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

    1. That reminds me of being the sub gym teacher. The kids had to line up and do exercises at the start of the class. They would more or less do it and that was about the only thing some of them did that I told them to do during the entire class period.

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    2. I remember doing that for gym class in grade school in Owatonna. I’ve never forgotten that song – we heard it and did those exercises every single day! I think I even sang it to someone recently. Thanks, Holly!

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  1. can I order the 27 disc set of stressercise now or do I have to wait? I think the idea of getting your heart rate up by watching a show off sweat may be exactly what I’m after. I like to feel good after a workout but it’s a lot of effort to put in for a busy person like me and it is good to chat with the other members in order to build up my network otherwise I may as well stay at home and do situps and pushups. Monday night was particularly distracting with the competition between baseball football the debate and some fool grunting on the weightlifting equiptment. I could hardly focus on what kind of insurance policy my buddy renewed that morning at the lions club meeting.

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  2. Good morning. Arrrrrgh, do you really think you are helping people by putting them under stress? I don’t know why you are asking for advice. Usually people that do the sort of thing you did are sure they are right and don’t want advice. Well, you do have the possibility of contacting Dale to make a video that you could sell to tim. I think tim and Dale might be “pulling your leg”. Try to get over the idea that you can help other people by putting them under stress. We are all under too much stress already from the crazed behavior of the politicians who seem to think they can win our votes with the loud and troubling sounds they are making.

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  3. If Arrrrrgh was correct in his hypothesis, I would be the thinnest, most fit psychologist west of the Missouri River. Not so, I am afraid. I suppose it would help for me to think that the ND Department of Human Services only had my welfare in mind with all the rules, regulations, and expectations it has for me at work, but the effect would be transient and brief.

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  4. I am no expert on gyms, but to my mind Arrrrgh has violated the first principle of gym culture. Each person in a gym has come with a highly personal mission that can be summed up as “having a great workout.” Ideally, there would be nobody else in the building as a person working out assaults the various machines and challenges his or her body to do what it doesn’t want to do. Thus there is a bubble of privacy around each person in a gym, and others should strictly respect that by doing nothing to distract others from their workouts. Workout time is strictly personal time unless someone indicates a willingness to be social.

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  5. Renee, I have have heard from a good authority that the MN Department of Human Services is behaving the same way that the ND one is behaving. The person I know is glad that she is close to retirement and will soon be done with dealing with that department. This is another example of the poor leadership we have in both major political parties that seems to have no real interest in improving human services and just uses them as a political football. In fact, some of the politicians seem to want to eliminate human services and turn them over to private enterprise which has already shown that they will not do the job properly with some exceptions. I hope I haven’t offended Jacque by what I just said. I don’t think she is one of the people offering private services that is more interest in making money than they are in serving people.

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    1. Also, I hope I haven’t offended any others, such as CB, who offer good private services in counseling and other human services I don’t want to offend anyone who is offering good private services when I say that I think there are too many examples of private services that do put making money ahead of serving people.

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    2. I think we need a good mix of public and private providers. The stress I experience at work is due mainly to documentation requirements and work turnaround expectations, as well as public antipathy toward state employees. For example, many of our DHS employees have to transport clients around in state vehicles for errands, appointments, etc. State vehicles are easily identifiable by their license plates. It is dismaying how many times the public phones in complaints to the State Office that they have seen state vehicles at grocery stores, assuming that the state employee is using the car for their own shopping, when, in reality, the employee is taking a client to buy groceries. We have also had complaints that state employees are poorly groomed and dirty, the complainer mistaking a passenger for an employee when they are really a client.

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      1. Renee, I agree that the lack understanding of the work done by public human services by the public is another big problem faced by public human service providers.

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      2. The woman across the street from the school where I taught so long would complain when the shades were not all at the same level, this is on about 60 windows in about 15 rooms. Another woman would send the school board a list of when people came to and left from work.

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      3. I agree, Renee. I don’t think there has been a time when it has been harder to be a public employee. There are so many bureaucratic things that we have to do just to show accountability that there’s hardly time to get the real job done. The bureaucracy in MN grew exponentially under Pawlenty. He changed the MN Dept of Administration to MN Management and Budget and strengthened MMB’s power over all the state agencies. We are now accountable to MMB first. Every agency has service bureaus such as HR, Business Office and Facilities – these now come under MMB and they were strengthened within each agency so that discipline staff are now more accountable to them than they are to their original mission. All of this comes at a time when many citizens seem alarmingly resentful toward all public employees. Everyone wants to feel as though their efforts are appreciated. I don’t think public employees are feelin’ the love. I know I’m not.

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        1. Krista I had friends working at the DNR during the years Rudy Perpich was governor. Rudy’s first term coincided with the “Energy Crisis” of the mid-1970s. Rudy was a man of action, so one of his responses to the energy crisis was to walk through worker’s offices in the capitol complex (including the DNR offices) jerking the power chords out of the wall when he found a public employee with a coffee maker on his or her desk. You can imagine the impact on employee morale. Some of those folks specifically brought a coffee maker to their office so they could work longer hours without chasing coffee in distant parts of the building.

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      4. I have one more rant on this topic: I was standing in line to pay for my gas at a station which accepts coupons. The lines tend to get long because you have to go in to pay the attendant when you’re using a coupon. Anyway, I was about the sixth or seventh person back in the line and noticed the clerk starting to really berate the woman who was trying to pay. I paid more attention to what was going on and noticed that the woman had a state Voyageur fleet card and didn’t know how to use it. The clerk began to speak loudly to all the occupants in the store, “The State is holding everything up! She’ll figure out how to do it in a few minutes!” The clerk did this twice and the second time I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I went up to the woman who was having trouble, identified myself, and offered to help her. She was almost melting down from humiliation. She didn’t understand that she had to use her own employee ID number to make the card work. They don’t teach state employees these things. You are expected to figure them out on your own. I was so angry with that cruel clerk that I told her that it was not the State that was holding everything up, it was one small incident. I wanted to tell her that she would never in a million years figure out even one procedure that state employees have to perform every single day, but I bit my tongue.

        Sorry for the rant. Thanks for listening, Baboons.

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        1. rant away krista, you should have some lessons in berating the scumbags that feed on the poor and the meek in our world. i hate mean people. i think we should figure out a way to paint the door above their establishments like the hobos used to do. a secret way to identify the people to steer clear of.

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  6. “THE GYM” is an interesting culture. I ride bike a la solo instead, which says something about my social inclinations. But my son has many a tale. And when weather does not allow I ride a stationary bike in this building in a smallish but well-equipped room. I think as a gray-beard I am “not present” as it were. I’ll tell a coupla brief stories when I come back from my first ride today (outdoors). But I just won a battle to get the automatic aerosol spay removed. I do not think many if any other users wanted it either. I think it was management’s idea, to whom I said without any vehemence in my tone, “It’s a gym, smells are part of the culture. Why are we all so afraid to smell real life?” I should have added grunts. I hear lots of grunting. The spray, which was right over the bike I ride, makes me ill. I was at the point of choosing between riding or not. So management also ordered the over-exuberant cleaning lady to stop spraying a scent in the halls. She is NOT happy with me. I did not ask for that. But apparently other people did.
    BTW, I passed 5000 miles for the year yesterday.

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    1. congrats on the 5000. i love the concept of smelling the culture. congrats on talking them out of the sprays. i would have bet a dollar you would never have gotten that passed.

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    1. i saw ricky play at the playboy club in lake geneva wi,and it was a memorable performance. thanks for bringing this one out ben . now that you mention it i do remember thinking it was odd that he had that country sound which was not too popular at the time. i liked it but it was not in fashion. i loved his version of dylans she belongs to me

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  7. i have been a on agin off again gym guy for years, i have my own little routine in place .for when i go to the gym. i enjoy the people watching but i do not go to the meat market clubs where the strutting and preening is worth the price of admission. i have stopped in there and it is entertaining but i need to get on and off the machines and equipment i want to use and be done in less than an hour. as dale says the object for many is not to finish the workout but to finish the conversation, the times you choose to go and the club you choose to go to are the keys to what aspect of the show you are going to get. it is amazing as to how into routine all those workout people are. it is a non varied to the minute regiment that allows not much deviation. the chat going on at 7am on the ellipticals today will be going on tomorrow with the same people on the same ellipticals. dont try to get there 15 minutes early and steal one of them you will totally screw up their deal. there are newbies who pop in and out of towners who obviously dont get the culture. dale mentioned last week or whatever that packers game being on opposite the debate and i realized had joined the culture of the aerobic workout. dale is a pm guy who gets his metabolism worked up before he does his crash and burn on route to a 4am wake up to get to work. every day same time same machine would be my guess. dale if you want to learn about circuit training i am available for a couple sessions to fgure out how to get definition on you : back and bi’s
    chest and tri’s
    legs ab’s and shoulders
    dont do as i do, do as i say.
    i can say great stuff.

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    1. I’m sticking with the Silver Sneakers workout at this point in my life. Working on definition, are you kidding me? I’m doing well to keep my heart beating. When I was in physical therapy, a lot of the exercises I had to perform I had to do in front of a mirror; not a pretty sight I can assure you. I didn’t mind the exercises, but I sure didn’t like looking at it. BTW, I think Dale looks to be great shape. Of course, he’s just a young whippersnapper.

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  8. I’m right there with Arrrrrgh!
    My older brother got into weight lifting when he was in college and I was in late elementary school. Over the summers, he’d take me with him to the -old- UMD weight room. Not the bright, happy, swirling pastel wonderland of the new weight room. The old weight room was in the Boiler Room of the Athletics Bldg. It was a hip-high block walled square area in the center of the dimly-lit basement with heavy gauge wire fence on top of the block wall all the way up to the blackness of the ceiling. It was also the place for unused equipment/machinery storage and there was a running track around the perimeter with gravel filling in the corners. It looked like a prison exercise cell in the middle of a junkyard. It was hot (all year), dark, humid, smelled like sweat, had a boom box cranked up on rock ‘n roll, and was filled with large guys that didn’t just grunt…they snarled, screamed, and yelled as weight bars banged and iron plates clinked like 50-pound martini glasses. It wasn’t a ‘barbell strength’ area or even a ‘weight training’ area. It was a weight room. A self-imposed gulag. A place where you weren’t there to see or be seen…you were there to work…HARD. You weren’t there for just ‘exercise,’ you were there to -exorcise-…the demons of weakness from your body. I was a 12 year-old 6th grader but, when I was there, I was one of ‘the guys.’ Age, gender, looks, even how much in shape you were didn’t matter. If you sought out this little slice of hell, and you -tried,- you were one of them.
    So, you keep on doing your thing Arrrrgh! In this age where the veneer of style is accepted as work, someone should remind people of what real work is.

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  9. My son goes to a huge gym in CA, one of several he can go to and they are in Seattle, too. But his new apartment building has a good room. He will wait and see how it works and then drop the other gym if it does. His regular gyms have several rooms for different TV options or for no TV. My son likes to meet people. He has met many very interesting folks in gyms. But most people want to be quiet, in their own world. I think when I ride, write, plan, worry, fret, get tense, etc. I was just riding to “Mrs Robinson.” What an excellent song, perfect for riding.
    BTW because Nate lives in downtown Seattle, his company has given him a bus pass, useful in that rainy city. But a nice perk for him to use moving around the city.
    I use the gym here between 7 and noon, which I think is the least busy time. I am usually alone. When people do come in they always, I mean always, turn on the TV very loud without a comment to me, as if I were not even there. When they leave, they leave the TV on. Once after a woman left the TV on, another woman came in and without a comment to me switched the channel. Now would you not assume I was watching it and at least ask? On the rare occasion that there are two other people there, we always ignore each other. A nod of the head seems off base. But once two young ladies got in a rather personal conversation about their sex lives.See what I mean, I do think it’s because I am the only old person who uses the room that they think I am sort of not there.
    Two users grunt. Behind me is a floor mat, big mirrors, free weights and an excellent Precor lifting machine. As they lift they grunt, which is fine. You should grunt. Neither is an issue for me, makes things more lively. One is a very fit young man, like TGITH describes at UMD, a home father. He has a deep practiced basso grunt. The other is a tiny woman in full Muslim coverage except the face. Full long scarf. Long loose blouse, ground-scraping loose pants. She is I think Persian. Cute. Cannot weigh 100 pounds. Clearly does not like it when I am in the room when she is working out. Does free weights, the machine, and jumps rope. I want to turn around and see her jump rope in those clothes but have not done so. She has a girlish, rich, alto expulsion of air at almost every move she makes. She does a very serious workout. Only she and I do not use the TV.

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    1. I can’t believe how rude some people are. I can maybe understand turning the TV on if you’re the only person in the room, maybe, but having the audacity to come in when you’re the only person in the room and change the channel when the TVs on without asking first, inexcusable! Where the heck were these people raised?

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  10. OT Some of you know that my son-in-law, Zack Klein, plays fiddle in The Orange Mighty Trio. This trio will be playing at the Cedar Cultural Center at 8 pm this Saturday. They will be playing music from their brand new recording and will also do a set of music built around Nitendo game music under an alternative name for their band which is Nerd Enhanced Sound. I am planning on being there.

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      1. Well, I was until I just found out that Cedar Cultural doesn’t use Homestead as a ticket outlet anymore. What the hell? Guess I have to buy online and pay the stupid service fee. Dear Cedar: “BOO!”

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        1. I was going to write and tell you that, but you found out on your own. Wanted to save you the trip. You can also buy tickets at Depth of Field across the street from the Cedar without a fee.

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      2. Great! It has been a few years since I meet up with you in person, TGITH. I think I should be able to spot you at the Cedar to say hello. This probably will not be a sell out, and tickets will probably be available at the door. I do hope it is a sell out.

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  11. Thanks for putting up that link, tim. All of the band members do have classical training and also can play many other kinds of music. Zack played Blue Grass when he was younger and played celtic music with Pipers Crow for several years. He currently plays in the back up band for Katie McMahon He has even play in a gypsie jazz band. Mike is very good at playing jazz and Nick has done rock music. Nick has very good skill using the bow on the bass as well as picking it.

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  12. My mood is affected by the low pressure system today, so my response is, ‘don’t worry about them, Arrrrrgh.’ You are fit and they are not. Your efforts on their behalf may or may not pay off but you will still be in better overall shape. Grunt and gasp all you want, but do it for your own benefit and not for theirs.

    I belonged to the gym here in Waterville a few years ago but didn’t renew my membership. I’m not a morning person, so I always went in the evenings and there were too many people there for my liking. I agree with Clyde about the music and the TV. I disliked the loud country rock music that was always playing. Sometimes the TV would be on at the same time as the music. It was always loud, smelled like a sewer, and the machines were sometimes sweaty from the last person who used them. Waterville is a clique-y little town and the women on the treadmills would often gossip about some poor woman I didn’t know. I always wondered what they were saying about me when I left.

    So, I try to exercise at home. I have a nice bike but I need to ride more – as many miles as Clyde! I also have a recumbent stationary bike and an Ab-lounge in the basement at home. I use them – sometimes. They mostly gather dust. I do not grunt but sometimes I wheeze.

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    1. I second your advice to Arrrrrgh, Krista.

      We used to have an expensive rowing machine. My father-in-law visited us twice, a couple of weeks at a time, during the four years before we sold it, and I’m certain he put more miles on that thing than husband and I combined. Not the machine’s fault, but it was just too boring. Joined a tennis club instead, much more fun.

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    2. We drove right past Waterville on our Minnesota trip, and I thought to myself “Krista lives there!” What beautiful countryside. I had never been in that part of MN before. It would be a nice place to bike.

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      1. It is a nice place for biking, as Clyde and I can both attest. The Sakatah Trail goes from Mankato, right through Sakatah Lake State Park and east to Faribault. It’s really lovely through the park.

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  13. Greetings! May I recommend the martial arts? Yelling, screaming and growling are all an accepted part of doing the curriculum and everybody wears the same outfit. You work on your own, but you can be social as well. Absolutely no TVs and respect is expected. Rudeness is not allowed. If you’re not sweating, the instructor will assume you’re not working hard enough and push you to do more. And in sparring you get to hit people (and be hit) provided you are completely outfitted with padding and gear. Oh, and did I mention you get to play with weapons? Bo staff, kamas, swords, sai, nunchakas, etc. A weapon I’d really like to learn is the weapon fan. It’s a beautiful fan with steel ribs and possibly sharp edges for attacking enemies. The perfect sport!

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    1. my kids did karate and i loved it. i was going to get into it when i broke my nkle and that kind of set me back 3 years and other priorities surfaced.
      wcco did a special tonight on high intensity training. my college son and his buddies got my awareness started with one series then there was another. the 12 dvd sets that get you rocking for about 1/2 at a pop. you work real hard and sweat like a pig. but man in 2 or 3 weeks the difference begins to show. the article on tv said the carryover from the workout keeps on coming for 48 to 72 hours after you have finished. it talks about going as hard as you can until complete exhaustion and then resting for the correct amount of time (30 seconds to 1 minute to let the muscles recharge then beat them up again. 3 times until you are ready to move on to the next exercise . i do a version of that with my circuit training with the dead weights but not to the level of intensity they were talking about here. if you’re not soaked you are not on the right page. i have known a couple of people who have done it and the results are for real. and the beauty is its likely best at home rather than the club.

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    2. Joanne, I’m so happy to know that you have that one outlet that gives you an acceptable release for all the frustrations in your life. Otherwise I think you might be a dangerous woman. :-)

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  14. I joined Curves about a year and a half ago. I was pretty regular about going to work out but let it slip when I started doing Zumba a few times a week.
    No grunting at Curves but there are a number of people there who aren’t exactly pushing themselves. They look to be about 80 years old so I guess I can cut them some slack.
    The music there varies from good enough to awful but I’m pretty tolerant of most music so I don’t mind.
    It has a real social environment and I know that that is important for a lot of the women. I find it amusing to listen and sometimes I join in on the discussion.

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