December 13, 2004
Fitness is a laughing matter to Alan Bockal. That’s because, for the past eight years, the Scottsdale-based personal trainer has been using humor in his fitness classes.
"I heard about a personal fitness class at Glendale Community College and decided to try it," said Bockal, a law school graduate who also is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. "I really liked it and decided it was something I’d like to get into."
That Bockal did — laughs first. He worked at several Valley fitness clubs and finally decided to take his act to the Scottsdale Senior Center and Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center. There, he keeps people in shape and in stitches.
"My wife (environmentalist SuSu Levy) says I’m funniest when I’m ad-libbing," Bockal said. "I started kidding with my classes and found they liked it."
Levy’s business cards read "Fun ‘n Fitness: bonded, insured, insane."
Bockal, who turns 62 and celebrates his 17th wedding anniversary today, teaches one hour personal fitness and advanced personal fitness classes Mondays, Fridays and Sundays at the senior center, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Jewish center. The catalog offering for the advanced class reads "Students are asked to bring their own handheld weights and a couple of good jokes (which the instructor desperately needs)."
At 83, Marian Moran started coming to Bockal’s class to stay agile. She said she gets even more out of it.
"Having humor makes the time go by quickly," Moran said. "He gets all the parts of you going."
Especially the funny bone. Punch lines are interspersed into a workout that includes eye exercises, breathing, stretching, balance work and positions on a floor mat. Do students come for the exercise or the jokes? "Both," said Tom Lindner, who attends class with his wife, Katy.
Bockal and class go into a tennis swing, then a golf swing. Finally, he says: "Now, basketball," picking up a chair, reminiscent of a recent seatthrowing incident during the Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game that ended with a brawl.
Bockal even has his own style of motivation.
"You guys faint, you faint," he tells the class. "I can always get new members."