Saturday 27 August 2016

History Exercise in a Hammock by Janie Hampton

This month I offer readers tips on how to get fit, ready for all that calorie-burning reading of history books that you plan to do this autumn. At the end of August you are tired from your holidays. You need to get your mind and body ready, but slowly and gently. Back in the 1980s Jane Fonda put us all to shame with her 'Feel the Burn' exercises. Now, with my patent Hampton History Hammock system, we can all stay fit, practice history and keep cool.
This Swedish lady by artist Anders Leonhard Zorn fell asleep in 1882 .
Will she wake in time for her History Exercise?
The hammock is a historic device, designed for people of all ages, shapes and temperaments. A hammock cradles and supports the back, neck and especially the brain. Hammocks help to relieve stress brought on by computers, stacking dishwashers and taking holidays.

Choosing the right hammock is crucial: it must be long enough to lie straight out in, and wide enough not to fall over the edge. Cotton hammocks are better than netting, which allows bits of your body to bulge through, leaving strange patterns on exposed areas. If the cotton is organic you will also feel smug, which  probably increases your intelligence too.

Attach your hammock to one or two strong trees. It should hang no more than 4 inches above the ground at the lowest point, when you are in it. This ensures that should it collapse, you don’t have far to fall. If you don’t have any trees, do not attach to a wall without a full survey – walls are inclined to bury people alive.
Always lie in the hammock in the direction that gives the best view. This should be away from guilt-inducing objects like the washing line, the shed with the lawn mower or your study with that half-read book waiting in it.
Before you start, place beside your hammock:
A book, quite a heavy one with very long words printed in small type.
A glass of iced water.
Optional bowl of strawberries.

Now for some action: Sit in hammock with legs together outside. Lift legs up and into hammock, and out again, keeping legs together. Do this once or twice, ending with both legs in the hammock. Try and remember the date of the Norman Invasion. Don't try too hard. And, rest. 
This lady in a hammock painted by James Tissot in 1879 had the right idea.
She is in the middle of the first exercise. Image courtesy of The Bridgeman Art Library.
 Warm up exercise: Lie down and feel every bit of your body go floppy. Think beautiful thoughts as you watch the clouds. Can you see an old man emerging? Does this remind you of the date of Napoleon's death? And, rest.

Oblique tummy stretch and underarm flattener: Keeping your legs straight, lean forward and touch your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, just wave at them, and say 'Hello'. Lift your arms up straight, and move them back over your head.
Do this a few times quite slowly. Or just do it once. Think of a number. Is it the same number as Henry VIII had wives? And, rest. 

Knee and bottom toner: Lift one bent leg and then the other leg up slowly. Pull back towards your head. Stop the moment it might hurt. Imagine you are a horse accompanying a Crusader. And, rest.

Waist curl trimmer: Pull knees up, and rock them from side to side. Roughly when was canned food first eaten? And, rest.

Groin and inner thigh strengthener: Bend knees. Pull legs up together, and then flop them apart. Wave your knees apart and together very slowly. Who first used chloroform during childbirth? And, rest.
This young lady has not read the instructions –
the Hampton History Hammock system
must always be carried out on your own. No man may help you.
Beating gravity with triceps stretch: Lift arms in the air and try to pull yourself up by grabbing the air with your hands. Admire the pretty patterns that the leaves make in the tree above you. What year was  an aeroplane first flown solo across the Atlantic? And, rest.

Nutritional exercise for energy boost: Without moving your body, allow arms to flop out of hammock. Wave them about until you make contact with the strawberries. Lift bowl of strawberries up and place on stomach. Now exercise your fingers: lift one strawberry at a time and place in mouth. Work those jaw muscles hard until the strawberry has disappeared. Repeat until bowl is empty. Think about the date when South American strawberries were first eaten in Europe. And, digest. 

This Wife of a British Colonial Officer should not have made these men carry her while she exercises. She should remain in one place, with her hammock attached to two trees.
Improved toner control for hamstring and bottom: Raise your legs in the air, and over your head, and touch the hammock behind you with your toes. Do this backwards and forward, very slowly. Or don't do it at all. Think of a year when Brazil won the World Cup. Just one will do. And, rest.

Warm-down exercise or biceps curl: Now lean out of the hammock and pick up your book. With bent arms, lift the book above your head and close your eyes. How many books are in the British Library? Lower your arms, and open your eyes. Lean out of the hammock, and place book on the ground. And, rest. And rest again.

Advanced cool-down exercise: Swing legs out of hammock and place feet either side of glass of water. Grasp glass firmly with both feet and lift back into hammock, tip glass towards face. Which year did Captain Scott reach the Antarctic? And, rest.

Final exercise to boost your will power: Get out of hammock, and return indoors. This requires considerable determination and commitment. It may take at least an hour to achieve and become more difficult with each Hampton History Hammock session.

In case of rain – do all exercises in your swimming costume.

Only do each exercise for as long as you feel like, and do not exceed 30 seconds. All these exercises require a positive attitude. Be persistent and you will succeed, possibly in time for the autumn.

To ensure success, make a graph showing how relaxed you have become. You can waste even more time by keeping a diary about your time spent in the hammock. Then, in 100 years your great grand-daughters can publish it. 
This luscious lady in pink by Irish painter John Lavery certainly knows how to relax.
She may even be learning some history at the same time.
Answer to questions: 1832; 8; 1810; Queen Victoria; 1927; 1714; 1958,1962, 1970, 1994 & 2002; 150 million; 1912.
Janie Hampton will demonstrate the Hampton History Hammock system of exercises on alternate Mondays, by appointment. 


Susan Price said...

I would definately do these exercises if I had a hammock. Perhaps I can adapt them to a garden recliner?
My partner was telling me about the painter John Lavery the other day. As a boy he and his sister ran away from cruel guardians, and later, Lavery spent time sleeping rough in Glasgow. Who'd have thought?

Ms. said...

Had a Mexican Wedding hammock hanging in my third floor apartment for a decade or so and Oh, I can not tell the tales it witnessed. Well that was decades ago and there was no that hammock is elsewhere, given as a wedding gift to a friend also no longer around. If hammocks could tell all their stories we would have to open a library, hopefully in a grove of trees with many hammocks slung between them :-->

Anonymous said...

Delightfully entertaining post! You should be employed as a peripatetic history teacher in whichever failing school needs you - you would turn it round single-handedly!!