I’ve always hated the gym. Partly, I don’t understand the equipment and I’ve never wanted to ask anyone how to use it. Partly, I hate exercising in front of others because the working through weakness thing and the painful stress that comes spewing out during that time seems far too intimate for florescent lights and spandex. The gym has always seemed to me a place to go to show people how fit you are, rather than a place to become fit.
Recently, however, I inherited my brother’s used Wii console and bought an exercise game. It is better than any gym I’ve ever gone to. For these reasons:
1. It allows a diversity of fun activities so I don’t get bored (and I get bored easily).
2. It’s a video game. So you get points. And the points earn you things. You are moving forward and have a goal.
3. No one is around to watch me look like an idiot.
4. The video-character in the Latin dance portion says things like “you’re so sassy!” and I can openly laugh every time.
5. I have no mirrors in my living room. So I am not forced to stare at my fat self as I breathlessly try to not make a fool of myself in front of the instructor and the rest of the class.
6. The rest of the class does not exist.
7. It is available at any time during the day.
8. No driving or parking involved.
I’m not saying that exercising with a video game is the most effective method for getting fit. But for someone like me, who has always been in a perpetual war with her body, it is a way to get the juices flowing again.
See, I have this half marathon coming up in May. The Pasadena Marathon. Two days before my 27th birthday. And I haven’t exactly been preparing.
This will be my third half marathon. The first one I walked last June in San Diego – I did close to nothing to prepare beyond my usual walking and didn’t bother to get decent shoes. (I also woke up late for the 6:30am start time and forgot to stretch and put sunscreen on…which caused more problems…) My thought was: walking 13 miles? What’s the big deal?
About ten blisters and sore legs answered that question.
The second one I walked/sprinted at times in December in Las Vegas (on the strip, at night). That one I sorta/kinda prepared for – I took up jogging (inconsistently) and bought decent running shoes. The result: no blisters and only the normal amount of sore muscles. So I improved.
I know I can, at the very least, match what I did in December, that is, walk quickly and occasionally sprint my way through the 13 miles and feel generally okay about it. But that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to be able to run, to actually run, at least half of the 13 miles, maybe shave off 30 min or so from my time, to be consistent in my weekly running and exercising and feel good about my body as I’m doing so.
In theory, I actually love to exercise. I did fencing for a year. Kung Fu for two. I danced in elementary school and high school. I always felt good during and after these things – but ultimately, school or work or rehearsal take priority. Exercise always gets dropped. And slowly, my life has become more sedentary. And the gap between my body and my mind has grown.
These days, just choosing clothes in the morning can easily turn into a twisted psychological drama; I feel as if I’ve gotten softer and slower and chubbier and completely not me. I don’t know how to dress someone who isn’t me.
But new desires keep coming to mind, new hopes of adventures in the future. Long hiking trips. Running a marathon. Surfing. Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Things that take a fit and able body; a body that does more than sit at a desk, strain its eyes at a computer screen, eat too much, eat when it’s sad and bored and lonely, eat late at night after getting home from a rehearsal (because I have forgotten to eat all day – because that is what I do when I’m really focused on a new project). I need a body that works harder and a mind that does more than just drain all the motivation I might have to change things.
I have just barely two months until the half marathon. I have nothing but my running shoes, my neighborhood sidewalk, my Wii and a poorly developed body image. Not the ideal training situation. But if I keep waiting for the ideal moment, or the moment when I’m absolutely sure of myself and see only an easy road ahead, I’ll never get anywhere.
And I definitely want to be somewhere. Just not the gym.
PS: If you happen to be running the Pasadena Marathon in May, consider adding your name to the Eclectic Company Theatre team! ECT is a non-profit and will get 10% of the registration fees from their team donated to them – but they need at least 10 people on a team! You don’t have to run with them – but if you can, show your support!