My love-to-hate relationship with the Gym
I saw this article posted by a friend called “Just don’t do it: the case against exercise”. It might seem from the title a little politically backwards, considering we are constantly inundated with the calls to the gym. But in reality I think its an insightful look at what is possibly the most dreadful way to physically exert yourself on the planet.
The article talks about ‘movement’ as alternative word for ‘exercise’, but I don’t know if that’s entirely nessisary. I think the key thing I personally took away was something I think I’ve been feeling for years. The gym is a fucking boring place.
When I think about it. It makes sense. I’ve already dealing with repetitive boring tedium all day sitting on my ass for 8 hours plus. Why do I subject myself to MORE boring tedium after work? It may be in the name of ‘exercise’ and ‘fitness’ and all that jazz, but when I absolutely DREAD going, and feel like I’m dragging myself off to be shot in the head. It isn’t really positive, and I’m paying for this privilege?
People say they feel great after the gym, invigorated, and all that. Generally I just want to get done as absolutely fast as I can to leave. It stinks. Its dusty and hard to breathe, I have to fight to get on the machines I need to do my little hamster routine. I had more fun walking my dog through the woods for two hours than I ever have next to the sweaty creepy guy at the gym on the elliptical machine. Every minute I’m in there I’m just “Ah! Get it over with!!” Of course when you go with people, you are also at the mercy of whatever their workout is, so even if you are done, they may not be. Let the standing around awkwardly commence.
I have this love hate relationship with physical activity. I’m not a fit person. I never have been overtly fit, although I have been more fit at some time than others, although I’ve never been fit on account of ‘going to the gym’. The only time I’ve been ‘fit’ was as a result of my lifestyle or job. For about three months I carried books door to door in various locations around Downtown vancouver. I hoofed it many KMs a day in high heels with a huge backpack stuffed with books. I did this for something on the order of 8-9 hours a day. In three months, I was pretty svelt. I also had a nervous breakdown and was in writhing pain in my hips, as I already suffer hip displacement, you can no doubt guess that this little activity absolutely ruined my hips. And then there’s the other part. Since I was 13, I lived in a place heated by a wood burning stove. From the age of 13 to 25ish, I hauled wood, every day, without fail from the back woods of the acreage I lived on. A lot of wood. We did a lot of yard work. I remember this one summer that I worked with my family on clearing and deforesting a portion of the yard, we worked from 9 am to 5pm every day, doing nothing but hauling wood, branches, and debris. Again, another summer I was built like a brick house.
However, I do not find yard work to be fun in the least. I hate gardening. I hate lawn mowing, and I can’t grow anything to save my life. Even my fiance has forbade me to have plants. I don’t like walking around delivering books.. I did it because I had to. Much like the gym. I do it because I have to. Not because I want to.
At the gym, its boring as fuck, but I know I’m not going to hurt myself if I stick to my little routine and don’t deviate too much. Its safe.. safe and boring as the grave. But if I try to play sports, even Frisbee in the summer, there’s a good chance of me pulling something (hip or shoulder) as I have done many times, although admittedly its much less boring and a lot more fun. Although living in a place where it rains 90% of the time, there’s not a lot of opportunity for outdoor sports unless you like being wet. Being wet is only acceptable to me in a swimming pool. And while I like swimming, its expensive to travel and fighting for lanes or even a few cubic meters of space in a public pool is not my idea of fun. I loved swimming in lakes and even the ocean when I’ve had the chance, but its… very cold to do so here save perhaps a month out of the year, and I don’t own wetsuits, nor could I afford them. Or scuba lessons, or any of that jazz. I like to ski, but my left leg is often too swollen to fit my boots and the cost of getting up a mountain (if there’s snow) and the time is challenging. Skiing really is a rich person’s sport, and I’m dirty poor.
I’ve never really liked or been good at any of the usual sports. Basketball, I’m too short and my shoulder’s buggered. Baseball, I can’t throw worth a damn and catching really isn’t that active unless you happen to be on first base. I remember playing outfield so I could stand there and not do anything in gym class. I can’t run due to my hips. I can walk forever, but its really not challenging where I live now to walk around the area. I used to walk through forests and up mountain trails. Too many people, too flat, too much pavement, and challenging walks are too far away to do on a daily basis. I’d have to drive there and drive back… and the gym is closer. Not to mention, you only get to walk on a single trail. There’s no variety. Honestly, you can probably name a sport, and I’ll tell you why I don’t do it. Maybe its excuse making but if … movement is supposed to be fun, and its highly individual, then why the fuck don’t I have SOMETHING I enjoy that’s physical?
The thing I’ve found the most fun (at least recently) is Dance Dance Revolution. A video game, sadly enough, although its got that physical ‘dance’ component. Its the one thing that I can do that’s aerobic and gets me sweating that I can do for hours and it feels like only a very short time. Sadly, i can’t do it because the people I live with get annoyed because the only place I can play is in the living room. I’ve pondered getting up at 6am to DDR, but the neighbors might shoot me. Ah, the joys of townhouse living, namely sharing walls.
Admittedly, I’ve got the attention span of a hyperactive nat when it comes to physical activity. I don’t do ‘routine’ well, and its an exercise in futility to make me ‘enjoy’ the gym, or any sort of ‘regular’ activity. In my own little world, if I didn’t have anyone else to accommodate, I would probably do whatever came into my little head. Maybe I’d do yoga one day, play wii fit the next, dick around with an exercise ball the day after that, DDR whenever I felt like for as long as I felt like. But, I don’t. With people around you that want routine, that either can’t, don’t want to, or find it annoying what you are doing or laugh openly at your spontaneous need to dance while cooking, its hard to find ways to be creatively active and not be ridiculed, or find ways to include others in that without it becoming regular and monotonous.
I’m not sure of “movement” is really the best term for being active (as suggested by the article), considering I ‘move’ to the bathroom. I ‘move’ from the office to my car. I ‘move’ from the couch to the bathroom, and its not the kind of ‘movement’ that really the article wanted to emphasize. I think activity is a better word to be honest. We need vigorous activity. Not ‘exercise’, but activity. Brain activity, physical activity, social activity, spiritual activity, and other sorts of activity. We need to be active in more than just one way at a time. I’m mentally active at work, but I sit on my ass. I’m physically active at the gym, but my brain flatlines. We need cross stimulating activities in our daily lives to make us feel less… well dead inside. And I’m not talking about activities like world of warcraft… unless of course you’ve created a LARP group that is having mock sword fights and running around in heavy armor for the sake of having fun. That’s pretty heavy physical activity to swing a sword and run around in armor… Oh, did I say LARP? Shit, my geek is showing. Sorry guys.