Clown Cardio Doesn’t Take Exercise Too Seriously

Whenever Alex Lee mentions Clown Cardio, he is met with some confusion.

“People will say, ‘What is that? People dressed like clowns chasing after you?’” Mr. Lee, a 42-year-old technical writer who lives in Los Angeles, said after a recent class. No one’s wearing face paint or red noses — nor are they necessarily chasing anyone (more on that later) — but this hourlong session, which costs $20, incorporated a bicycle horn, mini circus tents from Ikea and carnival-style popcorn boxes.

Jaymie Parkkinen, who founded the class at Pieter Performance Space in Los Angeles, compiles theater games usually reserved for improv warm-ups and turns them into aerobic exercises with clown-themed props: a game similar to blob tag, wherein the tagged link arms and chase everyone; a more chaotic version of musical chairs; a circus tent version of Capture the Flag; disorderly dance competitions.

When Mr. Parkkinen wants to expand the class’s repertoire, he visits Los Angeles’s Central Library and peruses the performance section; recently he was inspired by exercises found in a 1920s book for vaudevillians.

Clown Cardio has multiple locations, including a dance studio in East Los Angeles. The classes were created by Jaymie Parkkinen.CreditCredit…Video by Alicia Afshar For The New York Times

In this class, attendees of all genders and ages are encouraged to let it all out. “I want to emphasize play, not winning,” Mr. Parkkinen announced before Clown Dodge Ball. The disco tune “Turn the Beat Around” blasted while half the class competed to turn popcorn boxes strewed across the room upright while the other aimed to have more of them face down by the time the song ended.

“I can kind of unzip the human suit and be a gross little goblin and it’s accepted because clowns are accessing their inner child,” said Sarah Thompson, 29, a marketing copywriter based in North Hollywood who has attended four classes.

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