That Time I Did An Exercise

by H D Thompson

Exercise is my space – my final frontier. It has eluded me for years but it’s getting to a point where I feel like I should venture forth and find that galaxy far far away. I am told constantly by friends, parents, doctors that exercise is good for you, it will pump you up, keep you going, give you the energy to you’ve been looking for, but its just so…ugh.

I have been feeling really lethargic the last few months and I went to the doctor and I assumed it was something normal, like anemia, like most other people in my generation because we’re vegans or cant afford red meat and the doctor said no, and asked me how many hours of exercise I do a day.

I said, “hours…? …day?’

He said “Well, week?”

“…week?”

He stares at me so I feel like I should give a better answer.

“Define exercise”.

“Well do you jog or cycle?”

“I ride to work, its a 5 minute ride up a slight incline, does that count?”

“Well that’ll get the heart into first gear, but we’re gonna need to reach at least forth”

He confuses me further by turning to mechanical metaphors.

“What else do you do?” he asks.

I think. There is a 7.5 minute walk to the supermarket? There are two flights of stairs between my bed and the refrigerator? He looks at me struggling with an answer, with the same pity one might on a penniless orphan clutching a single SNES controller, no cord.

So out of shame mostly, I decided to try this exercise thing. I set aside half an hour, make an appropriate playlist and braced myself.

I try my first sit up. Success! I try for a second and realise straight away it isn’t going to happen. I go for a push up and my entire body collapses in a heap. Well I tried. I feel like exercise is meant to pump you up, make you feel alive. It just made me feel sore. After I did an exercise, I got up, ran a bath, grabbed a bottle of gin and a packet of corn chips and recovered from my ordeal. My muscles hurt. My brain hurt. Everything was sore. That was a precious 5 minutes of my life I won’t be getting back.

I don’t want to overdo it so I wait a week before I try for two in a row. Baby steps.

The thought of getting out of bed and doing an exercise is so bewildering to me I instead lie there and think about the exercise. I have a very active imagination and the thinking alone wears me out. Osmosis, almost.

I have a pair of white joggers that I bought some years ago, I don’t know why, I can only assume for the purpose of jogging but I know I never performed such a thing so who knows. Probably when I turned 20 and thought that I had to do grown up things like jog and floss. Fool. These joggers are pristine. I wore them once to a party when I dressed up as Tennis. There was no theme, I just wanted to. I had no idea what tennis was exactly, I had a rough idea though. I used to play it in High School for sport. By play I mean I signed up so that the teachers thought I was playing, when really I would sit on those really tall chairs on the side lines and adjudicate. My version of adjudicating involved an icy pole and a good book. The one time I was forced to play, I leant over the net to pick up a ball and the poles on either side bent down and the court was out of action till they could be replaced. I walked off the court giving my teacher the innocent but burning, “I tried to warn you” look.

These joggers still remain in my closet, as an annoying beacon of the hope of exercise, like the one poor kid in the private school, “can I play too?”. I keep pushing them to the back so they stop annoying me, so they don’t judge me with their sheen every time I reach for my ugg boots or thongs.

The only time I ever joined a gym was when I was younger and I won a free membership. I don’t even remember entering a competition, it certainly didn’t sound like something I would enter, but I wasn’t one to turn down a free thing. I entered the doors and was assaulted by people gyrating around and sweating and someone yelling “feel the burn! FEEL THE BURN!”; pecs to the left, glutes to the right. I couldn’t handle what was happening around me so I turned and walked out. As I was leaving I heard the word “jazzercise” and my walk turned into a run (in hindsight, at least the gym got me running). I got call after call from my personal trainer, her name long forgotten but probably something like Meg or Trish, but I ignored them all, and the gym culture.

One morning I was walking down the street to work and a young woman handed me a coupon for a free Zumba session. Without missing a step I told her I would rather fart in my mouth.

I used to swim a lot when I was younger. I was in Nippers as well. Nippers is like junior surf life saver club. I wasn’t in it long though, even at 8 years of age I knew Sunday mornings were for sleeping, not getting up at dawn and racing other kids around a beach. I swam in the school athletics and even went state a couple of times, but I wasn’t passionate about it. I would rather do other things, I just didn’t know what those other things were. Until my good friends video games and books came along that is. It was coincidentally around this time I became more of an indoors person.

I never really understood sports. People running around throwing balls at one another, tackling each other sometimes, trying to get a ball in a hoop or to the other side of a field. It seems so pointless. Normally I would totally down for a bunch of chiseled men on a field, muddy, sweaty, heaped in a pile. Balls. But its just not my bag. The only reason I would go to a game is to drink beer and eat pies, but I can do that from my lounge room. Why put pants on?

Most of my friends are exercisers. One of my friends is a really intense runner, she runs like, 50, 60 kilometers a day? Does that sound right? Who knows. Another friend used to be a professional gymnast, and even after all these years of not practicing, she is still only made up of bone and muscle. I think she has a negative percent body fat. Another friend gets up at 6am to go swimming. 6am doesn’t even exist to me as a time unless it’s still the night before, usually stumbling home with fries in my mouth.

I feel like I’ll get there one day. One day I’ll jump on the exercise bandwagon and fly off to that final frontier. Till then, I’m gonna stay here in my nice cosy hole dreaming vigorously about the exercise I should be having. Space is for losers anyway, right?

#H