To quote Chicken Little, “Today is a new day.”
Specifically, today is the first day in a long time that I will both exercise and like it.
Today I will not beat myself up every time I open my wallet and see my unused gym membership card staring up at me with its smug little silhouette of a 105 pound aerobics instructor standing next to a stationary bicycle. Today I will not wince as I channel-surf past 49 cable TV channels all showing some combination of fitness products and programs with names like “Thirty Days to Thin” and “Yoga Booty Ballet”. Today I will dig out my hated and binding sports bra and burn it in a ceremonial fire of liberation! (Which I will light in the grill only after moving it at least ten feet away from the back door, as per the fire safety flyer we received from the landlord this week. I just wanted to add that; you never know who is reading your blog.)
Yes, exercise and I have a rocky relationship, but it hasn’t always been that way.
There was a time, in the beginning, when it was so easy. Exercise wasn’t something I scheduled into my day between running errands and making dinner. Exercise was my day, and it happened almost by accident—as I ran to make it to class on time, or spent long Saturdays swimming at the lake, or played Ultimate Frisbee with my friends on the campus front lawn.
Even after college was over, exercise followed me effortlessly into my newly grown up life. Paul and I didn’t own a car for over a year after we got married. My parents gifted us with the same shiny yellow twin Schwinns that they had ridden in college, and we went everywhere on them—to work, to the movies, to visit friends. If we had been able to figure out how to balance a laundry basket on the handlebars, we might never have bought our first clunking, wheezing, gas-guzzling heap of a car. For several years, it seemed that exercise was simply built in to everything that I did, and I rarely thought about it.
Now, two kids and two cars and a decade of procrastination later, exercise ranks right up there with thumbscrews and the rack as I contemplate ways to spend my time.
What happened? Why is my gym membership card collecting lint in the back of my wallet? Why am I using my Winsor Pilates DVD as a coaster? Why do I groan inwardly, tormented by constant, buzzing guilt that prods at me every time I drive by a toned and virtuous jogger, but isn’t strong enough to get me to the gym for a 6 a.m. workout?
I’ll tell you why: because purposeful exercise, in my experience, is boring. B-O-R-I-N-G!!! A forty minute session on the stair climber while watching closed-captioned news reports by Brit Hume does wonders for my thighs, but shoots my brain full of Novocain, leaving me to wonder if my little white gym towel is meant to mop up the sweat or the drool. And half an hour into my Pilates workout, I’ve stopped concentrating on tensing my “core” to ponder meatier matters, like what to make the kids for lunch and how many mysterious chin hairs it takes to warrant a full-on chin waxing. Exercise—at least the kind I’ve been trying to force myself into—is just not fun.
Enter Kirstie Alley.
I’m not joking. I saw her on Oprah, showing off her 65 pound weight loss and promising to reveal her “exciting new exercise routine”! It turns out Kirstie is as bored as I am with conventional exercise programs. What’s her new secret? She dances. That’s it! She dances, and she has fun doing it.
I remember fun. I’m ready to have a some more. After all, I have an iPod, and hours of funky dance music all queued up and ready to go. I have a living room that’s just spacious enough to allow me to swing my head and arms around without getting a concussion. I have two awesome exercise buddies who will be only too glad to wiggle and giggle alongside Mom as she introduces them to Tubthumping and Smash Mouth and headbanging to eighties hair band hits.
I am going to start today.
Thank you, Kirstie Alley.
*addendum: I’ve tried it, and I love it! But after a few hours of enthusiastic dancing, I must admit that burning my sports bra was a bit precipitous.
Thank you to Jules, who sent me the following link for my dance education (and your amusement):
Evolution of Dance
And let’s not forget our old friend, The Daily Dancer, making dance accessible to the jammy wearing, mop-wielding masses.