We Can Work It Out


I have never been a fan of what the layperson calls “exercise.” We educated ivory tower folks, well, we tend to call it “exercise.” It’s too early in the morning to really do semantics. So sue me.  The point is, I’ve never liked it.

I’m an uncoordinated slob. I would like to point out that, like all you other uncoordinated slobs out there, things tend to jump into my path and lie down, with the proven intent of making me trip and fall. Shadows do this. So do cracks in the sidewalk; chewing gum wrappers; leaves, twigs and sawdust; and, of course microbes.  Stuff just seems to clumsify me.  And I don’t like tripping. It embarrasses me. It doesn’t help that when I got to seventh grade, I was already five feet fifteen inches tall, and weighed only slightly more than 2 bags of Purina Dog Chow. Of course, I wanted to learn to wrestle. That’s not precisely true.  I wanted to learn judo, but there was no martial arts class in the area so I settled on wrestling, where, effectively, I got my ass kicked until I separated my collar bone in my sophomore year and gave up that little endeavor. I was called–and this was meant quite affectionately, I’m sure–a fish. I think it had to do with the way I gasped and flopped around on the mat, and was kind of clammy to the touch.

Truth is, I never much liked being uncomfortable: I despised having a window rolled down while we were driving. The wind on my face (and splashback from when my dad spit out the window) were never something I could tolerate for long.  I tried out for PeeWee baseball when I was young. I hated standing way out in the outfield, freezing my tail off, watching softballs never come anywhere near me. Even today, I look for ways stay comfortable, usually by participating in activities that make me not sweat.  As a result, I’m in great shape. Round is a shape.

Some of you folks may remember back in the glory days, when teachers could dole out corporal punishment to students.  My elementary school teacher had a paddle he affectionately called “Sting”, after the famous elf-dagger in The Hobbit. He never used it on me, but the paddle hung on the blackboard (a blackboard that was actually green – I never understood that one) in a place of prominence, right by the bathroom hall pass, where everyone who dare try goofy shenanigans might remember their fate.  Even in 8th grade, Mr. Pomme, our math teacher, had a paddle, which I only saw him use once, on Brian Davis.  I don’t think you’re allowed to smack kids around anymore.  Instead they make kids have time-outs to think about what they’ve done. Here’s a hint: they think they got away with it. Ahhh but I’m joking of course, I wouldn’t presume in this day and age that whacking kids with a paddle is a solution to their educational misdemeanors.

I’m going off track again.  This post was about my hate-hate relationship with exercise. I suppose it’s partially because of elementary and junior high school that I despise it: I’m sure to this day that when you dole out something as punishment, a kid will grow to despise it, and ultimately to avoid it.  When we weren’t having “Sting” applied to our bottoms, we were given Herculean feats of exercise. Late math paper? 50 push-ups.  Smear clay on the kid next to you? A hundred burpees (if you were really bad, you got six count burpees, the one with the push-up in the middle). Exercise was never treated like a good or healthy thing.  It was the abomination that happened to you when you misbehaved.  My very last day of sixth grade, I don’t even remember what I did, but I managed to annoy a teacher enough to get twenty laps around the soccer field. So I ran. But with each time I passed the backstop of the baseball diamond, I grew to despise exercise just a tiny bit more.

These days, as a certified Hippopotamic Landmass (I watched The Princess Bride last night), you can safely assume I don’t do much exercising.  A friend has been encouraging me to start running again: I did a bit of running after high school, and again in the late 1990s. Is it too late for me? I like being comfortable, and I don’t care much about my largesse. I am slowly turning into one of those old guys who toodles around his lawn, wearing khaki shorts, black knee socks and orthopedic sneakers. I regret not being able to fit in to pants with a 34″ waist anymore, but those days are long over. So I move onward.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s very important that I hold a sofa onto the floor for several hours.

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5 thoughts on “We Can Work It Out”

  1. Way back when I was in great shape (if you like long skinny stick shapes) I had a fondness for running and was actually quite good at it. I was not greatly endowed with coordination or breasts which made running both easier and harder than it looked. After many years and two children I am still not coordinated. I am no longer fond of running. It hurts. I don’t detest exercise. In fact I think it has ‘fun’ potential if you can find the right person or people to make it so. I enjoy hiking and swimming and walking but not as competition. I am not a joiner. I can’t see myself going to a yoga class (where I would undoubtably tip over and cause a domino effect) and find it relaxing while contorting my not-so-stick-like shape into unnatural positions. I have tried going to the gym. Remeber the locker rooms in jr high and high school? Not much has changed. Enough said. There will always be the proud, naked, gorgeous types that wander around unashamedly while the rest of of try to wrap a towel the size of a dinner napkin around the places that gravity has not been kind to. I am not nor will I ever be an exhibitionist. It isn’t coded in my DNA the way hips and stomach rolls seem to be. I may not be in the shape I was many years ago but I am in the shape that is me. I like me.

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  2. I am convinced that “exercise” is one of those 4-letter Anglo-Saxon words that got latinized into a more acceptable form, but now we’ve forgotten the original “offensive” Anglo-Saxon word, so that is much harder to prove.
    I hatehatehate, abhor, despise, and generally cannot tolerate sweating. Which makes most forms of exercise fall into the same category. Sweating is gross. It makes me stink. It makes my clothes stink. It stains my clothes in a way that only very expensive (and therefore, unaffordable) products can help said clothes look normal again. It stains clothes in places that I did not even realize I had sweat glands.
    Sweating, in spite of the fact that it’s designed to cool the skin, makes me even hotter. This has been proven, yet again, in recent years by peri-menopause and the emergence of “night-sweats”… I can be laying in bed, minding my own damn business by sleeping (the *nerve*!) and wake up, over-heated, in a pool of my own sweat. My jammies are soaked, as are my pillow and sheets; my gosh-darned mattress is soaked. Soooo not fair. I didn’t even get to have the “enjoyment” of doing anything remotely related to causing my body to sweat. I was frigging *sleeping*, for goodness sake!
    In high school, my “exercises of choice” involved swimming. I was on the water polo and swim teams. I could still sweat, but who noticed this in water that was generally colder than my body temperature. Not that I was any good at any of this; who cared! I was still grossly overweight, and came in last in every race I competed in; who cared! My water polo coach consigned me to the J.V. team, and never played me in game; who cared! I consoled my teenaged mind by saying that I was an “athlete”, and everyone knew that “athlete” must be equal to “jock”, and “jocks” were cool, therefore I must also therefore, by the associative properties I’d learned in my Advanced Algebra class, be cool. High school popularity does not in any way, shape or form, follow any sort of logical reasoning, though, and I was still the fat kid who was on the water polo and swim teams, but never actually competed, and was definitely UNpopular.
    All of this, and the reflection upon it, has led to this, my current, adult philosophy toward exercise: fuck it… if this body was meant to be fit, I wouldn’t gain two pounds every time I looked at a picture of a donut.

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  3. I eat therefore I exercise. I love to eat and seems the best way to be able to do more of it. Running is gross. I ran and one day i was out with my walkman-remember those? and my dog and I looked at the dog panting and I said, “I hate running.” We walked home, I put music on the real stereo and ate.
    But for the uncoordinated they now have the elliptical, you put your hands on the bars, your feet on the pedals and voila!
    Volleyball is gross too. I may have liked it until 3rd grade, I don’t have many memories before third grade and this may be the reason. Greg Lopez was serving the ball. I loved Greg. I gave Greg my heart. But when he didn’t serve I finally turned around to find out what was happening and he served the ball into my face-bye bye affection for Greg and any residual love for games involving hand-eye coordination. This is why you get Dance Dance Revolution. Or have you tried wii fit? I love that, you stand on a pad, you move a little ball up and down by rocking back and forth and then it tells you you are 15 years younger. I felt great when I finished. Yep, wii fit may be the exercise of your dreams. But don’t get started yet, wait until your doctor advises exercise, because as Mark Twain says, you want to have a few vices that you can bail when you get sick. I gave up smoking last year and feel great.
    I feel better all over than I do anywhere else.

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  4. I understand exercise doled out as punishment. But somewhere it got fun for me, moving my body and I didn’t mind sweating. I tended to be a team sports person -volleyball, basketball, softball, and track, my Nemesis and not really a team sport at all. For me, it was figuring out what I was good at, what I liked to do and what challenges energized me instead of discouraging me. If I can find the fun in it, either through being with others or alone with my thoughts, I’m golden.

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  5. Very funny! I hated ‘burpees’ almost more than any exercise ever invented…and I had put them completely out of my mind, until now! I have just started walking again, for exercise, and my legs hurt so badly today that I think I need to take a day off. But, if I take the day off from walking, will I really resume walking on Thursday? I won’t want to, I can tell you that, because I don’t like exercise, either! Not one little bit. Never have. And, it was so cold yesterday morning that my nose started running profusely, and I had no handkerchief or tissue. And, I got clear out to Chetco Point, thinking I had gone a LONG WAY from the PD, and realized (thanks to my handy dandy pedometer) that I had only trekked about half a mile. I could not IMAGINE reaching my goal of 3 miles…and I didn’t. I made it two miles before giving up. Instead of being pleased with myself for ‘just doing it’ I was disappointed that I had gone a mile less than the day before. Sigh. I can’t even imagine a way to make it ‘fun.’ It just isn’t. Maybe round IS the best shape! :S

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