I don't make a secret of the fact that I can't stand exercise. It makes me miserable, pure and simple. I don't mind exercise in disguise, which some people call tennis or two-hand-touch-football or ultimate frisbee. As long as I have something else to distract me, I can forget for a few moments that running, jumping and making my heart beat quicker aren't a) fun, or b) any fun at all.
What is it about exercising that so many people seem to like? Runners especially! Every runner I have ever seen seems to be having the most miserable time of their life. They are red and sweating, their clothes are hanging funny all over them, they can't get water in their mouth accurately, and they have horrible, painful grimaces on their face. When I ask runners how and why they run, they say "It's not so bad after you get used to it. It feels good to push yourself." True, or I could take a razor blade and run it in between my toes every day, really push myself, and maybe eventually it won't hurt so badly.
I need to do some kind of physical activity though, but I feel so dumb that I have to think about it, and even dumber that I am considering paying for it by signing up for a gym membership. Feeling dumb makes me wish I lived some place, some time, where "exercise" wasn't ever thought of; I would just do my daily activities and get physical activity in the process. The idea of a gym is grimly amusing to me, for one because I would be paying money to be in misery. Plus, if you think about it, it's pretty silly to pay for something as free as exercise. And it's hard to get excited about hanging out in a shrine to a pampered, overfed, sedentary culture where most people (um, myself included) will accidentally get too fat if they don't go and burn it off on purpose.
There is also a great, delicious irony here. So many of us have these easy-peasy lives now, with desk jobs and automatic everything. We are told these are improvements (and of course, many are). Except that now, because all our hard work is done by machines, we have to spend time in the gym on a different kind of machine, sweating away the extra time we've been given by technological and industrial advances. It's hard to beat that for irony, eh?
BUT, because I am not a farmer from 1850, and do have a sedentary office job and general ease of, um, everything, I need to find a viable way to do some physical activity. The gym is the absolute last resort. I have tried other things, though. Exercise sections in magazines are completely, totally, 100% useless to me. There's always a photo of an evenly-lit, perfectly tanned, muscular girl in a sports bra standing on the sand, just exercising away like she loves it and doesn't care who's ogling her. (Which is so realistic.) The next five pages are fifteen different poses, which you apparently must memorize and then do in rapid succession. But the photos never can clearly articulate what, exactly, you must do, so there are paragraphs telling you. "First do this with your left foot, then put your one arm over your other arm and then take your beach ball and fold your mat in half..." For one, I'm unfortunately in a living room, 1,000 miles away from a real beach. No beach balls, no sand, no ogling strangers (oh right, that's why I'm inside). Can anyone ever remember what exactly to do, and in what order, and how many reps in how many sections?? If you're really exercising, you definitely cannot READ THE MAGAZINE WHILE YOU'RE DOING IT. And if you were really on a beach, the magazine would blow into the sea before you finished the first set.
So that won't work. I've tried exercising at home, with DVDs and Netflix yoga instructors. This is slightly better, because someone is telling me what to do, and instead of one picture of each pose followed by a complex paragraph, I get to watch Evenly Lit Girl doing the stretches and poses and moves. This is much more sensible. But one problem remains. With yoga, I of course am twisting myself around pretty good. It is at the moment of perfect pretzeled bliss that the instructor will say "now put your arm like this" and I can't see her (at least not without dangerously craning my neck around even more). No matter which direction I start in (I've tried them all), I always end up facing away from the TV when I need to see what they are doing. So this DVD instructor thing is just not working for me. Plus, I pretty much have to rearrange the living room to make a space to do the exercises. I do love doing yoga, but I unfortunately have no motivation to continue with the DVDs.
Despite my great annoyance at most street bikers I encounter, I'm going to try to start biking, and I'm going to try really hard not to be like most street bikers. (If you are a biker reading this, please remember that if you are going to ride on the street--which is fine and legal--you have to follow all the rules just like cars do! You don't get to run stop lights, turn the wrong way down one-ways, weave in between cars where there is not a lane, or go your tranquil, zero-emission 10mph in a 35mph zone.) First I am hoping someone will give or lend me a bike, even though we don't really have a place to keep it. In addition to biking, my final option is to succumb to the ridiculousness of paid gym memberships. I hate the idea of it, but I'm also feeling forced into it. Biking is great for cardio/fat burning (that is the same thing, right?), but if I am going to spend time exercising, it's gotta be serious stuff.
So: I'm thinking about joining Curves. (Right. After I just insulted everyone who has a gym membership. I gotta stay humble.) The great thing about Curves is that you have no cryptic diagrams or invisible instructors to follow, and no lengthy sets to memorize. And no men. You just go around the circle of machines for 30 minutes, and look, you have done some exercise, and a full and valuable bit of it too. It is still exercise for its own sake, so I still know I will hate it. And, the idea of using sweaty gross machines is not exactly thrilling either. I think I am just going to go as quick as I can, not think about it, and get out of there. And I am thinking of putting some interesting things on my iPhone so I can be using my brain while the rest of me does its boring, bland, miserable duty to itself. So now all that remains is to convince myself that my physical activity, and ultimate personal health, is more important than my dislike of exercise and gyms. Curves doesn't sound too bad, right? At least it's better than razor blades?