I’ve been feeling extra stiff and winterized lately, as I do each year during February. This past weekend, I acquired the 2012 version of Your Shape for the Kinect. The original game kept me working out at the end of last winter, and I thought if I got back into the routine this year, it might make me feel better while spring remains at least a month away. I played for a few hours, really enjoyed the new game and its new exercises and presentation, and felt awesome.
The next morning, not so much. I wanted nanogenes to come put my muscles back together and stop the ouching. It all reminded me of something I wrote almost five years ago and is still pretty applicable. It was part of an experiment to do things not normally done and chronicle them. For me, that was exercise. I’m pretty sure this was never actually published anywhere before, so here you go:
(Oh, and I’ll try and occasionally write about my progress using Your Shape. I’m sure the nerds that read this blog would be curious if it actually does anything for me over time. Plus I need the support of others to keep up with it, so do your job, public!)
The last time I voluntarily did anything that might classify as exercise, the Backstreet Boys were popular and they were still making new episodes of “Doug.”
I have never enjoyed sweating. It is a disgusting sensation that, through any means necessary, I live to avoid. Pre-high school, I played baseball for nine years. I umpired Little League and Pony League games. I used to tear all over town on a BMX bike. The outdoors were fun. But ewww, sweating. I’ll admit I’m a
bit of a supreme germophobe, and even though sweat comes out of my own body, it might as well be a half-gallon of a 500-pound Tennessee farmer’s warm tobacco spit being dumped over my head. Instead of sweating I have taken to a very enjoyable, comforting life of dry indoor activities.
Plus, what is the point of exercising? I have no desire to lift heavy things, be a basketball star, or run nine consecutive miles, so why prepare myself? That would be like someone learning to basket weave with no intention of ever making a basket. Sure, it kinda sucks when you spend a few hours walking around a shopping mall and wake up ridiculously sore the next day. Sure, I can’t straighten my leg past a 90-degree angle. Sure, I haven’t felt fully awake in over a decade. But who cares?
Science tells us we have this one muscle in our body known as a heart. The bummer is it seems that if that heart stops working properly and doesn’t get enough exercise, it could seriously cut into my time lounging with iced tea and Xbox. Touché, human body. Touché.
So I decided to give exercise a try. As I stood in the weight room for the first time, many thoughts ran through my head.
The floor probably doesn’t even feel my massive 135-pounds entering, but I definitely feel it. It is an unflattering place. The walls are bare. The equipment resembles devices out of a “Saw” movie. It is way too bright. It is way too quiet. Something must be wrong. Is it closed? Can I go in? It is threatening, like something will explode or a ninja is going to pop out and slash my achilles. Is this a trap? Am I going to be murdered in here? It knows I don’t belong. It hates me.
Oh, Jesus, it smells like sweat… fuck it. Let’s do this.
Day 1 – Weights
There is one chief fact to know about weight rooms. They are absolutely revolting. You will be sitting, gripping or otherwise putting your hands on the anal sweat of 947 men, most of whom recently urinated without washing.
As I was feeling all tough and masculine curling my 15-pound weight, several large bulky men entered the room. Men so big you could hollow them out, strap on some wheels and you’d have a Cadillac Escalade. They stared me down like wolves watching a lamb. I was fairly sure they were going to eat me. Especially when one of them walked to the machine I was near. He looked at me with his cold, hollow, muscly eyes and asked if I was going to use the chest press. “I wouldn’t dare,” I replied. “My chest looks like Dakota Fanning’s back.” I figured that comment would let him know I don’t have a lot of meat on my bones. I guess it worked, because he did not eat me. He salivated and scampered away.
After an hour of pretending I knew what to do, I had accomplished exercises using nearly all of the machines. My body felt inflated, as if every part was filled with some magical power that gave me the illusion I could walk up to a guy on the sidewalk and smash his head in the way Gallagher smashed watermelons with that giant mallet. It was the dedication kicking in. I wanted to do this, for the sake of being able to sit and drink iced tea without worrying about having a heart attack at age 36. The feeling lasted about four solid minutes, and then I went back to feeling like crap, knowing that the next day was going to be a horrible party held at the intersection of ache and sore.
Day 2 – Running
Running would be better, I thought. No tainted equipment to touch. No cannibalistic Cadillac Escalades salivating over fresh prey. Just my lungs, my legs and the warm spring air. This is true heart exercise. Good old-fashioned cardio. I strapped on my $25 Target running shoes and hit the trail of would-be tears.
I decided on a nice path through some trees at the park. The music of the recently returned birds was beautiful. The gentle breeze was immediately refreshing, and the smell of all the plants coming alive again for the season filled the air. And then I tried moving my body.
What soon filled me was not as refreshing. It sucked so much suck. After running literally about 1.75 minutes, the gentle spring air turned into a Thor-sized fist of poop shoe Magoo that beat the holy shit out of me right there on mother Earth’s bosom. I was drowning on land. My poor heart was pounding on my chest, screaming at me, “See, dickhead? This is what you get!” I told myself to keep going, it’ll pay off. I ran again. Thor punched again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Day 3 – Home Exercise
Really, nobody has any good excuse for not exercising. Push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, Tae Bo, Jane Fonda – all that crap can be done right on the living room floor, for free, in your underwear, while counting the lines in Peter Boyle’s forehead on Everybody Loves Raymond. By this point I was so ungodly sore from Days 1 and 2, I was glad there were no large knives, rope or bottles of prescription medication anywhere in proximity. Not only did I look like Dakota Fanning, but I’m pretty sure she could have K.O.’d my ass before the second bell.
The pushups weren’t so bad. The dips weren’t so bad. The crunches, however, left me twisting on the ground in waves of agony, like all the blood from my neck to my waist turned into Frank’s Red Hot for 19 seconds and then exploded. And exploded again. And then the 5th avocado exploded. (2012 comment: That’s a reference to a very old meme!)
Now, for a person who lives a relatively easy life, procrastinates whenever possible, and doesn’t take orders well from anyone including himself, the events of these three days would be quite an experience. And I’ll admit, it was. I was unable to get into bed at night without wanting to cry. Walking down steps was a miserable feeling. I was a canister of pain. Three days is enough of this tomfoolery.
If anything, I am now more aware of the discipline that those who manage to work out every day of their lives must have. It is an admirable quality, and I am impressed by it. We can’t all be good at everything. I guess exercise will be my rocket science. My heart will be fine. I don’t need to be all big and muscular and tough. I can stay small, it’s who I am. It may even come in handy someday… If a murderer with a 12″ Gerber folding knife is chasing one of those Cadillac Escalade cannibals and I through the park at once, and the only place to hide is a little tunnel or under a patio, I know which one of us is going to die.