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Issue 219

Jamian Juliano-Villani’s Workout Routine

The painter and former gymnastics teacher offers tips for getting fit

BY Jamian Juliano-Villani in Opinion | 21 MAY 21

My version of bodybuilding is very simple. Do as follows:

1. Have you ever listened to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? I have. I listen to him whenever I take a bath. I pretend I can hold my breath for almost four minutes – part of my daily exercise routine. In real life, I can’t hold my breath for more than 27 seconds.

2. Blow up birthday balloons if the helium runs out. Doing this reminds me of how old I am, and how soon I will die. My heart rate goes up and, as mama always said: ‘Stress is like a box of chocolates.’

Now that I have your attention:

3. In my opinion, bodybuilding isn’t for the sharpest individuals. If you are so obsessed with your image that you spend hours at the gym every day, enhancing your physical appearance beyond what is strictly necessary, you may have little sense of your self-worth. I love knock-off clothes, eyelash extensions, self-tanner.

4. If you do decide to commit yourself to bodybuilding, you need to learn to pull the fastest punch. You also need to give the best gift at the party. You need to be able to fake an orgasm. You need to win over locals in Tulum. And you need to be able to cry on command. You need to be able to make rice efficiently without ruining the kernels, start a fire with a microscope and pronounce the names of gross-ass French foods on the menu, with just the right degree of affect.

5. Adderall™ is incredibly important – just don’t tell anyone.

6. Listen to CDs about how to train your parrot. In absorbing the lessons of avian education, you will realize how many times you repeat yourself throughout the day. You will also learn about your most compulsive habits.

7. I am straight up over internet shit but, honestly, Chatroulette still exists and, if you use it, it keeps you on your toes in terms of communication skills, small talk and cheap criticism.

8. For more than seven years, I taught gymnastics to girls who trained for national competitions. Half of them won. I can’t even do a split. I have eight varsity letters from high school. Cheerleading captain, high hurdler at just 154 centimetres tall, swim team, etc. When it comes to bodybuilding, you have to be the small troll who fucks up the four-metre ogre.

9. It’s about appearance, not strength. 

This article first appeared in frieze issue 219 with the headline ‘How to Work Out’.

Main image: Jamian Juliano-Villani, Little Girls Stretching, 2020. Courtesy: the artist and JTT, New York; photograph: Charles Benton

Jamian Juliano-Villani is an artist. She lives in New York, USA.