In the Blog


August 8th, 2008     by Catherine Hayday     Comments

I love exercising.

Well, okay, I don’t love it. I like it. Except for the times when I’ve hated it.

While I was on the treadmill this morning I was thinking about the complexities of my relationship with exercise. Informal surveys make me think I’m definitely not the only one, so I thought I’d say what it’s been like for me, and throw it out to the Shameless folk.

I was not an athletic kid. Not that I didn’t like being physical, but I was definitely in the group that didn’t play sports on the side, and so was pretty fux0red when it came to gym class (why, why call it a class if there’s no instruction?).

I will forever remember my grade 4 teacher fondly for coming over in volleyball (one of my most feared activities), and showing me how to serve. It took 2 minutes, and it changed every volleyball class that followed. Because it wasn’t that I couldn’t. It was that I didn’t have the first clue how. It turned out that I actually had a pretty decent serve now that I knew what I was doing. I was still ass at every other position, but it was the first taste of enjoyment in a long dry spell of suck.

Fast forward past the rest of the not-so-sweet torment that was elementary school gym, through high school where I injured my back (permanently) doing some sort of flip over a pommel horse during our gymnastics component(?!). Again with no instruction. Who thought it was a good idea to make gymnastics part of a general amateur curriculum? “Okay, uneven bars, aaaaand… go!” ACK!

So I was 18 before I realized that I actually like exercise.

I was living in Indonesia and a friend of mine joined a gym. I joined with him because, well, why not (same attitude that got me down there, and it was working out pretty awesome for me). Only to find out to my shock - shock - that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d always assumed I didn’t like running, but I didn’t know that running on a treadmill is a completely different experience. Especially with MTV Asia on in the background.

I came home again a bunch of pounds lighter, a lot more fit, and feeling like a whole world was opened up to me. I thought I was academic not athletic, and I didn’t know you could be both. Well, I knew, but I didn’t know I could be both.

I also learned what sort of “sports” I liked. And how totally different different kinds of physical activity can be. Somehow “sports” got transposed with “exercise” in my brain. Such that if I wasn’t good at one, I couldn’t enjoy the other. Wrong-tastic.

I might still not like the team sports that were thrust upon us while in school, but that didn’t rule out all the solo activities, structured and freestyle.

Not that into tennis? Maybe you’d like lifting weights. Or squash (like tennis, but the little ball is trapped in the room with you, so I spend less time running off the court and back). Or boxing. Riding a bike. Fencing. Rock climbing.

Or jogging, but only on the treadmill, and only with your music on. For some people (read: me) it can be that precise, and that’s no big deal. Even now, jogging somewhat regularly, I know that I’m not going to relax into it until minute 7. That’s right. 7 minutes of not especially having fun, and then I can coast. Like clockwork, the timer goes to minute 7 and everything loosens up and I can start enjoying it.

The memory of how I feel when I’ve had a good jog is what pulls me back. I do it for the high and for the stress relief. I know that running’s not fantastic for my knees so I don’t go too fast. I don’t do it to tone up either. For me it’s right up there with a Saturday morning lie-in or a bubble bath for stress-relief. When I don’t get exercise I feel depressed and logey. Often I don’t even realize that’s the reason why. But. if. I. can. just. push. through. and. get. my. sneakers. on…

It’s one of the best tools in my having-a-good-life toolbox. When life really winds me up, I know that Clicky (my iPod) and I can head to the gym, and I can run it out. Or bring my gloves and wail on the heavy bag for a while. And come home a lot more sweaty and a little more sane.

So that’s me. How about you?

Tags: body politics

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