{the life} The Hunger Games Workout

by Rachel on March 7, 2012

When I was about seven years old, I, like many little girls, discovered the Pleasant Company catalogue (which I think we can all agree was made from the Most Glorious Paper Ever) and fell in love with the historical American Girl dolls and, really, the American Girl books. Those books were made for a kid like me. Fiesty little heroines are good, but setting them in a bygone era? I was done for. My favorite American Girl was Samantha and after reading her books, I became obsessed with all things Victorian. What eight-year-old insists her mother makes her a cape and spats for her boots to wear to look like Samantha in Samantha’s Surprise? And a pinafore to wear to church on Sunday? A nerdy, geeky, glasses-wearing bookworm, that’s who. Those books? Were my shit.

The fact is, I’ve never really stopped being a bookworm who geeks out over fictional characters. I’m currently geeking out over The Hunger Games. After reading the triology over the summer and then listening to the audiobooks with Eric around the holidays, I’ve become totally obsessed with the series.

And just like I wanted to try all the American Girls’ hobbies (Felicity made me want to be a horsewoman while Molly is the reason I went to summer camp), I find myself wanting to pick up a bow and arrow (which, coincidentally, I haven’t done since the aforementioned summer camp) every time I read the books or see a trailer for The Hunger Games movie. There’s just something so badass about Katniss’s preferred method of defending herself. I’ve been wondering for the past few months if suddenly archery is going to be the New Hip Thing once the movie hits theaters and, honestly, I hope it is. I’d be really thrilled to start seeing a bunch of Groupons for an archery range.

I’ve also been wondering how long it would take for someone to develop a Hunger Games-inspired workout. I mean, that’s what happens when people love something — everyone tries to capitalize. (The Royal Wedding-inspired pizza was not so long ago, people.) So when I got a heard that DailyBurn was the first one to get in on the trend, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Even though I wasn’t surprised, I had mixed feelings. Even though I was expecting something like this, I wasn’t sure if I was OK with it. I mean, “Get skinny like Katniss, the girl who was, you know, FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE IN THE ARENA” is kind of a fucked up message. Archery as the next big thing or “The Katniss Diet” seems like something that the books’ Capitol would do. I felt kind of gross about that.

DailyBurn’s PR team happened to send me a press release, as they knew how much I loved the book. Here is what it said:

The Hunger Games hits theaters in less than a month and already fans are hungry for more! The New York Times mega bestseller by Suzanne Collins, featuring a futuristic world where children are pitted against one another in a battle for survival, is filled with run-for-your-life athletic strength and agility moves – in fact, it’s a road map for getting into tip-top shape.

Lisa Wheeler, Fitness Program Director of DailyBurn, a leading online fitness destination, has identified four Hunger Games-inspired exercises for your readers to take to the gym, or even try at-home; for fans who ever wondered if they could be an archer like Katniss or a powerhouse like Cato, these workouts are the perfect test, and a prescription of total-body fitness. Workouts are outlined below.

Lisa also has intel to share for the perfect “Eat for Survival Meal Plan,” which focuses on foods found in their natural state. Also inspired by The Hunger Games, the Eat for Survival Meal Plan offers full menus, recipes and diet tips based on a “Paleo” or “Hunter/Gatherer” diet. There are even recipes inspired by actual meals inThe Hunger Games books, including Capital Springtime Soup, Hunger Games Porridge with Berries and Almond Flour Biscuits. These foods deliver powerful energy for rigorous exercise.

I read over the workout and eating plan, and really, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking. I appreciated that the moves didn’t have stupid names and descriptions to keep in line with the story. Like, if there had been “Mockingjay rows” or “Gamemakers’ Squats” or something, I would have been dropping a lot of F bombs in this post. I was also really happy to see that the workout was all strength training moves — I mean, if you’re going to pitch something as a “get badass like Katniss” plan, it better involve lifting heavy shit and putting on some weight. As for the diet, I loved that Katniss is a hunter in the books and that she follows a hunter/gatherer diet even when she’s not in the arena — not for weight loss but because that’s her only choice — so I’m fine with this.

So while I don’t plan to do this particular workout, I actually don’t hate it as much as I thought I would. While I do think that marketers are always looking to capitalize on a trend, I think there are plenty of people who just want to geek out. And when you’re really hooked on something, like I was on Samantha’s books in the American Girl series, you want to experience it in your everyday life in some way…any way, really. Even if that means wearing a cape to school. If I were creating workouts, I’d totally want to give my fellow Hunger Games fans something to get excited about, so maybe that’s all DailyBurn is doing. Is it any worse than buying a mug with that totally cool fan art on it?

I guess I’m still a little torn. On the one hand, the premise of the book is pretty morbid, and cleaning that up and using it to inspire a workout routine just seems so weird to me, and so not what the book is going for. But on the other hand, it’s a work of fiction. And, well, sometimes the books do inspire my workouts. (Well, most of the time the books just make me want to eat a lot of fresh-baked bread.) I’ll admit that I’ve often thought, “Holy shit, I’d die so fast in a survival game or a war zone” while reading them. That thought makes me wish I knew how to hunt and sometimes it makes me want to strength train.

While I’m leaning toward thinking that it’s just a fun way for bookworms to get motivated, and I find myself a lot crankier over the Hunger Games-inspired nail polishes and the way beauty blogs are fawning over the Capitol citizens’ crazy hair and make-up in the movie, I’m still not 100 percent sure that it’s not just a kinda-in-poor-taste marketing ploy. So…I’m curious to hear what you think! Is this just a company trying to capitalize or is it a cool way for fangirls to geek out while they are at the gym? Is it bad that the books make me want to shoot a bow and arrow or is this just to be expected when you get really into a fictional world and character? Do literary heroines ever inspire your workouts?

Let’s discuss!