{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! 

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 [SMASH] March 7, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Umm sorta love this post since I just finished The Hunger Games and am nearing the end of Catching Fire! I’ll admit that I’m finding myself geeking out about THG even though I was so resistant to read the books at first.

The exercise, however, sounds like just capitalization of the books, which we probably all knew was coming. But I do agree with you that doing some archery would be badass. Katniss was a boss with that thing [or so I imagined while reading!] and I’d be totally down to try it.


2 Kaytee March 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I was an American Girl fangirl big time, too, and I just got into the Hunger Games. I not only had all the American Girl books, I had little craft and recipe books from their respective time eras. The idea of doing something that one of your heroines does is just plain awesome. Who wouldn’t want to be more like Katniss in real life? And if it encourages a reader to branch out and try new things, that’s awesome. It’s not like you’re going to run out and start killing squirrels for your dinner.


3 Katie Cummings March 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I also was also totally into American Girl! I read all the books for all the girls, but I had Kirsten (I’m from Minnesota and blonde) and also Josephina (no relation, just loved her).

And I also find the contradictions between the Hunger Games being an awesome series, and a total sick story line confusing.

I’m glad I’m not the only one!


4 kayla March 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Frankly, I’ve been acting more nerdy about the hunger games than I have about anything in my recent memory. As much as I wanna go all fangirl on all things related to the book, this doesn’t really do it for me. Never in the book was I thinking about how fit Katniss must be getting. Instead I was thinking, “how the hell is she still alive?!”

I would much rather be in some laser tag survival game than doing Mockingjay rows or painting my nails various shades of nature. Market that to me and maybe I will bite.


5 Jodi Chick March 7, 2012 at 8:49 pm

The whole idea of a Hunger Games work out kind of weirds me out, but really? Who am I to judge? My favourite running motivator right now is an iPhone game called Run! Zombies! Run! and it keeps my lazy butt running 20 – 30 miles a week as “zombies chase me”.


6 kayla March 7, 2012 at 8:53 pm

I just heard about that app like 20 minutes ago but of course the android marketplace has failed me on that one.


7 Rachel March 7, 2012 at 9:07 pm

LOL, sometimes it’s just like whatever it takes, you know?


8 melissanibbles March 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

Jezebel covered this the other day here:


I liked their take on it.


9 Katrina @ 'Sota is Sexy March 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm

First things first. I found your blog yesterday (via the Fitness Magazine blog awards page) and haven’t been able to stop reading it since. Let’s be blog friends…seriously.

I was also obsessed with all things American Girl as a child. My parents were to cheap to buy me one of the dolls, and I was never good enough with my birthday and Christmas money to save up enough to pay for one myself. It got so bad that I literally created a protest sign with the words “Help Homeless Children Like Samantha!” (She was my favorite, too) in hopes that they would be guilted into buying me one. That didn’t work. At all. My sister was diligent enough to save up and by the Molly doll — to this day I’m still pissy and jealous about it.

I devoured all three of the Hunger Games books last year and am super excited for the movies! Like, “nerds gone wild” flashing my boobies excited. While I appreciate that this workout/diet plan focuses on hearty “survival” foods and strength training, it feels like WAY too much of a stretch for me. I’m not offended by it or anything, it just think they’re trying way too hard. It seems forced.

That’s my two cents. Who am I kidding…this comment is long enough to be *at least* 25 cents.


10 Mal March 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm

I was the same way with American Girl dolls. I loved Samatha and Molly! I just finished reading the Hunger Games and am totally geeking out on it too! I agree it’s weird, but I also think it’s a good thing that they are promoting a workout that is inspired by someone that is talented and strong instead of someone that’s just skinny, even if it’s just a marketing tactic. The weirdest part to me is the Hunger Games diet. It’s called the Hunger Games – people were hungry/starving. I don’t get it and I don’t think Katniss would approve…


11 Dori March 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I was actually invited to take this workout next Wednesday. My first thought when I got the invite was “A Hunger Games inspired WORKOUT — HAVE TO TRY THIS.” So to answer your question, definitely a marketing ploy – but a great one. I don’t even know what the workout is. Also, I just read the People that was devoted to all Hunger Games and it was really informative about the ways the actors actually trained.


12 rachel March 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm

As snobby and hipster as this sounds, I kind of loved it all a lot more when very few people knew about it, when I was still the one passing my set of books along to my literary friends: I’m very afraid they are trying to go all Twilight viral on us…


13 Meghan March 7, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Workout routines are kinda not my thing, but can we talk about a thing I can get on top of?

The Hunger Games Nail Polish by China Glaze. I am currently wearing 4 of them at once, and I have 2 more that are part of my friends arsenal, that I will borrow.

The luxe, foie gras, electrify, riveting, stone cold, and smoke and ashes. I had several mini quests to all the sallys around me, and well, It was insanity. I love the colors a lot.


14 Meghan March 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

I missed your part in the blog about the polish, but still they look really good. :)


15 Natalie March 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Totally still own my Samantha doll…and all of her dresses and accessories and books.

Why, yes, I did also buy The Hunger Games box set. I’m a 26-year-old pre-teen.

Nerds unite! :)


16 Kristin March 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I read and re-read those American Girl catalogs constantly. I loved making wish lists and also pretending I’d get a doll (I never did). But the books were just the best. My students love the books now and that makes me happy :)
Katniss inspired my husband to be more of a bad ass when it comes to working out. So it’s not just girls. She’s inspirational to everyone and I’m pretty sure my husband wants to live in those books.


17 Tracie March 8, 2012 at 2:30 am

I read the Hunger Games books last week (I know, I know, I’m the last person on earth to read them), and I’ll admit that it made me think about how awesome it would be to do archery.

The Hunger Games workout and diets freak me out. I can’t separate the storyline enough from the idea to get involved with them.

My eight year old daughter is American Girl obsessed, and I have enjoyed re-reading all my childhood favorites all over again.


18 fatgirlfit March 8, 2012 at 8:00 am

When I’m running, I tell myself I am preparing for The Hunger Games/Zombie Apocalypse. It does it for me.


19 Jessica March 8, 2012 at 8:26 am

I may or may not still have my Felicity doll. (Yes I am a 29 year old woman with an American Girls doll, what of it.)


20 RAIN March 8, 2012 at 9:31 am

I just started the first book, and I love it of course!

I think people will try to capitolize on anything they can to make more money! But I also think people love to “geek out”…which isn’t a bad thing, I kind of compare this to the Twilight Series, though I never saw a Twilight workout…hmmm…what would that include? Tree climbing?


21 Christina March 8, 2012 at 10:38 am

I thought it was an interesting point you made about it being something the Capitol would promote.. and in that case Katniss would definitely not approve. I imagine she would be all about the need of being fit and feeding yourself properly, not as a trend as the Capitol citizens would surely make it to be.

I loved the books even tho there were some “what the what!” and “whhhhy” moments for me… can’t wait for the movies.

And yes I too was a fan of American Girls! Samantha and Molly were my favorites :)


22 Melissa March 8, 2012 at 11:10 am

If the books inspired you to shoot a bow and arrow AT someone, that might be problematic, but wanting to be a badass like Katniss is perfectly fine. I’m on my second go-round of reading the series (yes, I read all three books then promptly re-read them), and I find her oddly relatable. So wanting to workout like her–to be strong and confident and able to defend yourself–is perfectly normal, IMO. If it were to be skinny, that’d be another thing. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence kind of shoots down (pardon the pun) the whole Hollywood skinny thing. She says she doesn’t diet, just eats well and works out. And she doesn’t pretend that her workouts are easy or that she does them on her own. There are trainers who tell her exactly what to do for hours in the gym. Normal people can’t do that, but striving for that strong physique is totally ok.

Being that this is a capitalist society, what do you expect? It’s just smart marketing if you ask me. If daily burn didn’t do it, someone else would’ve.


23 Megan C. March 8, 2012 at 11:14 am

I love the timelessness of the American Girls. They are still loved by little girls today. I still have Samantha, her outfits, and her books. I will admit when my co-worker took his then 10 year old daughter to the American Girls store in NY I was jealous.

I haven’t read the Hunger Games but after seeing the preview for the movie and reading about how much everyone loves it I may have to read it now. As for capitalizing on it for a workout, nail polish, etc as you said this isn’t anything new. I’m with you though I have some concerns about the workout’s message of “be skinny like Katniss.” But playing devil’s advocate it isn’t really that different than boot camp workouts because boot camp is preparing men and women to fight in war and we’ve made it into a workout.


24 Lindsey March 8, 2012 at 11:30 am

Oh lord, I completely identify with your love of American Girl paraphanalia! I think every girl in their 20’s has some sort of closet addiction to their clothes (I forced my mother to make me a dance outfit like Molly’s, after I carefully had placed my hair in pin curls, and was eating vegetables from our “Victory Garden”), yikes! I think anytime that a book becomes a huge hit that people naturally are going to capitalize on the marketing but I don’t blame you a bit for being interested in shooting a bow and arrow, that’s pretty frickin’ awesome…


25 Melissa March 8, 2012 at 11:55 am

Hmmm. I think with other storylines this might make sense if you were a huge fan. But despite how much I love this series, I can’t separate any of the marketing from the storyline. I find so much of the superfluous marketing to be creepy and against the book. It makes me worried for the actual movie. I really don’t want to see such strong characters get destroyed, especially such a strong heroine


26 Emily Susan March 8, 2012 at 11:57 am

When I was home visiting my parents,my mother mentioned that she had cancelled the American Girl catalog subscription. I was PISSED. I promptly got online and had it sent to my new address. I am 25 and still in love with Felicity. The American Girl dolls will be the reason I will be sad if I don’t have any daughters.


27 Karen March 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

I too LOVED the trilogy and found myself moved by them in a way I hadn’t felt about a book in a long time.

I’m OK with it sparking an interest in archery. I haven’t done archery since gym class. It’s like creating awareness about a little known hobby. Can’t you play archery on some Wii sports game? Why not try the real thing?

The workout thing seems a bit weird. I don’t buy that. Katniss didn’t workout, she did what she had to do to survive… well I guess she did train briefly in the second book. But that was survival training. There’s a difference.


28 Bree March 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I had a Samantha doll. If I was 8 years old right now, I would be all over the American Girl enterprise.

I am on the third Hunger Games book, and was hesitant to read the series at first, too. They are captivating, easy reads. I feel like Katniss would disapprove of a “workout”…her lifestyle is how she stays fit and is out of necessity not vanity.

On that note, I am proud to say that I am the Minnesota State Indoor Archery Champion of 1993. I have the trophy to prove it…it’s in the hutch of my old bedroom with my Samantha doll. My bow was neon pink and black. It was awesome.


29 Kavi @ Lab to Fab! March 8, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I LOVED the American Girls stories! I would flip through their catalog for hours (ahh, the days before internet sales!). RE: Hunger Games workouts, it would be awesome if archery became the hot new workout trend. That was actually one of our gym class modules back in high school!


30 Nicole @ Giraffelegs March 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Wow I can’t say that I’m not a little weirded out haha.


31 Chelsea March 8, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I haven’t read the descriptions of THG inspired workouts, but something tells me it’s probably just Crossfit by another name. I love the idea of archery – I’m originally from Vermont where many people hunt, with bows and arrows and I always marveled at how strong my father must have been to be able to pull the arrows back (I was never strong enough to do it on his bow). It’s primitive and sexy all at the same time. Besides, as a 28 year old woman I can already feel my triceps starting to sag so there’s no way my arms could ever be too cut.

What gets to me about the workouts is the fact that much of the characters in the books were too often starving to death. I remember seeing clips of the movie for the first time and thinking to myself, “Jennifer Lawrence isn’t skinny enough because she actually looks strong and healthy and Katniss was strong, but it was more of an inner strength because her body was wasting away.” Granted that is just my interpretation of the books, but either way I’d have a hard time finding motivation in a workout to mimic characters that were often hungry and very, very unhealthy even if they were buff…


32 Youngshim March 9, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Honestly, I do find it kind of off-putting that serious things like starvation and forced murder – that happen to plenty of people in the real world – are capitalized upon by companies trying to make a profit.

Of course it’s understandable, but it could be such a great opportunity to build in lessons about the real world. Here they have a bunch of recipes based on the Hunger Games:

Wouldn’t it be so easy to slip in some awareness-raising comments about, say, famines or the corruption of the food industry or the merits of local eating? I’m also wondering whether Hunger Games theme-based social activism would be a good idea, like this Harry Potter-based one: http://thehpalliance.org/


33 Youngshim March 9, 2012 at 8:20 pm
34 Eszter March 11, 2012 at 5:34 am

A bit off-topic, but can’t help myself: I haven’t read the book yet, but went through the wikipedia of Hunger Games, and thought it was a bit funny when the author kept insisting she got the inspiration from tv channel surfing. My first thought would be that she simply read Battle Royal which is the most famous book with the exact same main idea, right? :) I think it’s funny how obvious ripoffs… no, I mean inspirations are constantly being denied by arists saying they got the inspiration from somewhere else. :) Sure, the German band Camouflage was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach and not Depeche Mode, right? :D Nevertheless, both the book and the film sound great, still.


35 Eszter March 11, 2012 at 5:37 am

ps.: LOOOL, and I just moved on to criticism after reading the storyline, and look what I found:

“The Hunger Games has been criticized for its similarities to the 1999 novel Battle Royale. Although Collins maintains that she “had never heard of that book until [her] book was turned in,” The New York Times reports that “the parallels are striking enough that Collins’s work has been savaged on the blogosphere as a baldfaced ripoff,” but that “there are enough possible sources for the plot line that the two authors might well have hit on the same basic setup independently.”

It’s hard to belive someone hasn’t heard of Battle Royale.


36 Rachel March 11, 2012 at 8:39 am

Ha yeah someone always brings that up during discussions of The Hunger Games. People get super heated arguing about it. I actually hadn’t heard of Battle Royale so I didn’t make the connection but it sounds like there are a lot of similarities between the two, as well as some older stories. Sounds like this isn’t a new plot/idea, so I guess it comes down to whose storytelling you like best!


37 Vaddi March 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

I just got the book, so will find out whose way of storytelling is better, lol. And on Tuesdag, i even get to see the movie.


38 Kiki March 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm

As a zombie apocalypse/ dystopia junkie… I’m all about having the Hunger Games athletic skillz.

As a reader… I think this type of marketing stuff is a little nauseating and diminishes critical thought and the intellectual repercussions of the books. As soon as it became a movie… and such a highly marketed one at that, I think we lost something. Don’t get me wrong I am STOKED to see the movie… but… something about the process of turning a book into a Hollywood production just does something sad to the book. Can’t quite explain it!


39 Eszter March 21, 2012 at 5:23 am

SAw the movie yesterday and it was awesome!!!


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