I must confess that I was a couch potato for more than a decade. I remember that after the school bell would ring I would rush home not to play with the neighbors but to watch late afternoon cartoons such sa Silverhawks, Thundercats, Yogi Bear [good grief, I can't believe that I even watched this show!] and a whole lot more. Back then, cable television was considered a real luxury and that there weren’t really a lot of channels to choose from. The only main reason why people would opt to have cable television was the chance to watch television in crystal clear vision. So imagine to my surprise when my father decided to get cable televison! It was like heaven sent! Living in a small town in Batangas City and in downtown Batangas at that, having cable television was considered a status symbol of sorts similar to how people think that having an iPhone is a status symbol of one’s economic capability to spend. With that, I became even more glued to the television screen as I looked forward to Saturday morning cartoons and would watch tv past midnight on a Friday night as it was the only time that my parents would allow me to watch television beyond 7:00 in the evening on most days due to school and the need to sleep early to wake up early.
These memories made me smile as I entered the cinema of Newport City Mall at Resorts World Manila where FOX TV’s Star Movies held their third year event called the Star Movies Movie Marathon. But this year it had a new twist. Couch potatoes were in for physical challenges in between watching films for a chance to win P150,000 pesos!
To start off, I wasn’t able to watch the entire event as like any person who needs to live, I had errands to do, emails to finish and also lots of other communication and planning to figure out how to best maximize my time. So imagine my surprise when Iw as simply greeting a good marketing manager friend of mine and then I was encouraged to join her in witnessing this year’s Star Movies Movie Marathon which they rebranded into Star Movies Movie Triathlon? It really made me interested and made me wonder what it was all about. So when I got there at around 2:30 in the afternoon, there were already 70 plus contenders left from the initial 200 couch potatoes who started the movie marathon at exactly 7:00 am. To give you more details just click on the photo below describing the event from their press release/media kit.
Did you read it thoroughly? Notice that the contenders are not allowed to go on a bathroom break! They can’t sleep, they can’t even use their mobile phones and they are not allowed to stretch during the whole duration of the movie marathon! Take note that everyone and I do mean, all 200 participants were checked if they weren’t wearing any diapers too.
I missed the initial movies that were played but from what I heard they were mostly old movies in black and white. When I arrived they were showing Ferris Beuler’s Day Off. It was almost at the end of the movie that we entered to check on the remaining participants. But I was more glued to finishing the movie as it brought back memories of being a kid again. I don’t know why, but all I remember about this 1980s film is that it catapulted Matthew Broderick to star status and paved the way for him to have movie after movie after movie contract.
Thanks to YouTube, here’s a clip of one of the famous scenes of the movie!
While the credits was rolling, the cinema lights were turned on and the event host moved towards telling the remaining participants that they were now about to enter their first physical endurance challenge! It was the circuit training courtesy of 360 Fitness Club. It was a little funny because the host had to assuage the participants that they were all indeed required to stand up to do the necessary circuit training. The remaining 70 plus contenders went through a a thirty minute workout involving endless squats, jumping jacks and holding on to squat poses and in between high knee raises. During that 30 minute period, no participant can stop or take a break from their routine and they cannot fall on the side of their stretching poses too. To do so would mean instant elimination. In just 30 minutes, close to 50 participants got booted leaving 26 movie marathoners to continue with their viewing pleasure where the next film was a 1978 film called The Deer Hunter.
About thirty minutes into watching the movie, I was chatting with Arleen Lindo of Chris Sports and I told her that one of the challenges of this movie marathon is that almost all the movies selected are movies that are classics, award winning and garnered cult followers during their time. But looking at the demographic profile of the viewers, it is clear that the average age of the moviegoers/participants was anywhere between the age of 20-25 years old. I heard that there was even one participant that flew in from Bacolod and his mother called up to verify if such a contest existed to check up on the safety of her child joining the competition. In addition, the selected movies really tend to make one sleepy because the audio quality is just bad. No, it’s not the fault of Newport Cinemas. It’s the movie and how it was digitally remastered and restored. For instance, it is already a challenge to try and making sense of the movie Ferris Beuller’s Day Off about a teenager who decides not to go to school for a day, then moving to a drama about families and war in The Deer Hunter were the quality of the film was grainy and the dialogue barely recognizable through all the static noise that just hummed throughout the film. If I was the participant, it would feel more like torture than pleasure to sit down watching these films! If not for the thought of winning P150,000 pesos then I don’t think that anybody inside the cinema would even bother baring the grueling task of keeping awake. Add the fact that the air conditioning system was nearing subzero temperatures and coffee and food being constantly served, it is a miracle that anyone can hold on to their dear bladders without breaking a sweat!
After the movie The Deer Hunter, it was time for the participants to face their next challenge which is the Yoga Challenge. They would need to hold their poses indefinitely. From 26 participants, only 16 remained after just 15 minutes of Yoga. From there, the 16 watched the classic film A Streetcar Named Desire. After the movie, it was down to 10 but only nine were left because one opted out after the Yoga session.
At this point in the movie marathon, I was trying to think when was the last time that I watched a movie marathon? I recall that there are two movie marathons that I keep doing every year. One is the Star Wards movie marathon. I get more excited when I reach the original movies of Episodes III to IV. Two, I just can’t get enough of Peter Jackson’s monumental The Lord of the Rings Trilogy which is about 12 hours plus total running time for the extended DVD edition for the three films. Other than this, I haven’t done any movie marathon alone or with family and friends in such a long time. Makes me wonder, whatever happened to DVD movie night at home? Does it still exist? Do people gather in homes to watch a movie together after a meal, microwaving popcorn for the entire gang and ordering pizza in the middle of the movie? Man, I think I am starting to get old because I am longing for simpler things in life and the simple joys in life. Watching cable television back then was a family affair.
There was another thing that was deeply bothering me too. As much as I was enjoying watching the participants make a fool of themselves through the various physical challenges, I was also thinking on what is the fitness levels of these people who are proud to call themselves to be “couch potatoes”? I posed this question to one of the events organizers/sponsors and I was given a reply…. “They are at zero fitness levels. It shows with the fact that a simple circuit training leaves them breathless,” and it is true. Then she went on saying… “But because they got eliminated through a simply physical activity, it will not make them realize that they need to exercise and that they need to do something about it. It will forever change them and the way they look at the television screen and the way they look at fitness.”
I think that this is what makes this year’s event endearing to me. The event is indeed a toast to couch potatoes. But it is more than that. It is telling its participants that you can still watch your favorite movie or television program and still achieve your fitness goals. This is epitomized by the next challenge which was the bike challenge.
The bikes and the treadmills were sponsored by Fitness and Athletics. Most runners know their shop located at the Bonifacio High Street in Bonifacio Global City. It’s actually just beside the famous RIOVANA, Coach Rio dela Cruz running store. Did you know that a Nordic Track bike is less expensive than the most expensive smartphone out there right now? From what I saw in the malls, top of the line mobile phones ranges from 40,000 to 50,000 pesos! This machine that was utilized for this event only costs less than P30,000 pesos! Imagine that! I even heard them talk about installment payment is also available for those who wish to acquire one using a credit card. I am betting that one or two of the remaining nine participants will be considering buying a stationary Nordic Track bike to keep fit while watching their favorite movie in the months to come. The 13th month pay is just around the corner, right? Let’s not forget Christmas bonuses too!
It was a tough bike challenge because even after 15 minutes of biking, nobody was getting eliminated. So the event organizer made it more interesting and offered that the four who will opt out will have P5,000 pesos cash. Oh, I almost forgot that the last nine contenders were all given a brand new television set too!
After about 30 minutes of constantly biking while watching the movie CASABLANCA, only five participants remained and they were about to face the most challenging part — the dreaded treadmill!
I could imagine that the remaining five would run like hell and give it all out like this running popcorn guy!
There was about a ten minute break for the last participants. In between resting and refueling through much needed water, the event organizers posed the option that the last five can either choose to split the P150,000 pesos or they could keep at it and go for gold and glory! It was an intense two minute decision making time for all five participants, with one male contender and four female contenders. So what was their decision? Well, before going to what happened next, I just want to share with you that the treadmill challenge is a machine is also a Nordic Track, courtesy of Fitness and Athletics. What’s amazing about this particular machine is that Google Maps is built into it. You just input where in the world you would want to run and it even has a program of the most popular race events such as the route of the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon. The treadmill adjusts accordingly to mimic the intensity of the hills and the terrain of ANY and I do mean ANY location that you would want to run in the world. I’ve tested the treadmill and I can say without batting an eyelash that is indeed something that I am already coveting to have one. I would so love to test the machine further. Oh dear Fitness and Athletics, would you be so kind as to loan me a machine for a month?
So, the time came for the five to make a decision. And it was a disappointing decision if you ask me. Yes, all five of them opted to split the P150,000 cash. I was really looking forward to the treadmill challenge. I could not help observe the facial expression on the last male contender. He was teary eyed. I think that at the back of his mind he was thinking why he opted to split the cash with the other four ladies? Was it an act of kindness or was it because of peer pressure? It could be both. Still, wouldn’t it be interesting if they did the final battle for the P150,000? Oh well.
I can imagine that next year, fitness buffs of all types will be joining this event and train their bladders. It will no longer be a battle of the couch potatoes. It will be a battle of the stationary bikers who watch their favorite telenovelas. It will have the hardcore treadmill walkers who are glued to channel surfing. It will be bigger than this year’s event. In fact, had I not been invited as the publicist of this event by Arleen, then I would most likely have joined in the activity and experienced it from a participant perspective. It’s a different ballgame when you write about something from a participant point of view and from an observer. The tension within the mind and the soul is something that I could not experience in this event seeing it from a distance. I will not be surprised that this would even attract other nationalities. The possibilities are just endless. Imagine a movie triathlon event on an Asian region setting!
One thing is clear, you can still enjoy watching cable television and still achieve your fitness goals. Take it one step at a time. It’s why I called this article “In Sitting and In Health…” You can’t possibly become fit merely by sitting in front of the television screen. You need to work those muscles, get them moving. For the 200 participants of this year’s movie triathlon challenge I’m confident that all of them had the realization that they need to do something about their health. It’s one thing to think that one is healthy. It’s another thing when you are given a basic challenge such as maintaining a yoga pose, biking for thirty minutes or doing jumping jacks. I hope that they indeed “sit on it” and keep moving forward towards good health and balancing their bodies and their viewing pleasure. Again, congratulations to the final five who made it after 16 hours of viewing time and physical challenges!