I’ve procrastinated long enough. I’ve checked my email, Facebook, bank account, daily newspapers (Europe and the US), sorted laundry and scheduled my research and work for the day. I can delay no more, not without starting to do the most mundane of things like cleaning out the kitchen draw, which even I realise is an excuse not to exercise.
Waking this morning feeling energetic I decided to don my exercise gear as a statement of intent and a psychological reinforcement. There would be no excuses, first priority this week is getting fit and making it part of my daily routine.
I must point out that I’m not an athletic type, never have been, never will be. School memories of sports are not good – I have no hand/ eye co-ordination when it comes to anything spherical requiring to be hit by bat, racquet or club. Throwing or catching? Forget it. I have no interest in sport either as a participant or observer. None.
Hockey at school was a nightmare, not so much the sport as having to get out in the winter months and play it. I have horrific memories of playing in falling snow wearing only a thin cotton polo shirt and impossibly short hockey shorts, hands and knees numb and a fetching shade of blue. I couldn’t figure out then, or now, why it was necessary.
Summer sports were only a smidgen more appealing because the weather tended to be warmer than in the winter – on occasion anyway. Sitting down on the playing fields in the sun was infinitely more fun than declining latin verbs in a stuffy classroom, along with the odour of adolescent boys sweating profusely in heavy woollen blazers they weren’t allowed to remove.
Outside in the bright sunlight, with the scent of new-mown grass wafting on the breeze, it was easy to wander out of range of the gym mistress’ voice on the pretext of hunting for a lost ball (totally believable in my case) or practising cross-country running. It was worth the risk of a detention for the peace and quiet away from the frenetic running up and down the track or throwing the javelin.
You’ll appreciate then how this morning was a huge deal for me. And before anyone starts to think I’m a couch potato I’d just like to point out that I’m on the go most of the day – the only time I sit is to write, or in the evenings, where of late I’ve been asleep by eight o’clock. What I don’t do is organised exercise in the same way I don’t do organised religion.
I have friends who will be at the gym four days a week and play competitive tennis on top of that. I join these dear friends for an aprés-gym coffee once a week as I’m flying around running errands, but to join them in a class is not going to happen. I understand it’s a great way to meet and make new friends, and the perfect antidote to the stress of moving to a new country with all those endorphins keeping depression and angst at bay.
Over the years I’ve accepted what works for me – exercise has to be undertaken on my own, not at a set time, and involve things I enjoy doing. Being somewhere at a certain time and having someone yelling at me to try harder doesn’t do it for me. I use dance exercise to burn calories and Callanetics (similar to Pilates and Yoga) for toning the body and clearing the head. Swimming. Walking the dog for a couple of hours a day.
I decided to take the latter up a notch and go for a run with the dog, figuring this was good time management. Not that I’ve run for a while and haven’t ever run with the dog. Biked with him alongside, but not run. I’d toyed with putting on roller blades (yes, I have some) but decided to err on the side of caution first time out.
There had to be a first time and I sallied forth with enthusiastic dog at my side. The results were the same as the first time I biked with the dog. Ice packs applied to elbows and knees, and a bruised ego.
In the zone, focused on breathing, I failed to notice a small dog off a side path – the Archster hadn’t. He flew across the front of me tangling my legs in his leash and in the momentum of running I fell forward, arms windmilling. With neither grace or elegance I fell heavily and without dignity onto the tarmac.
The worse part? We have a formal function on Friday evening for which I have the perfect dress. Elegant, it fits, is sleeveless and knee-length, and will expose grazed flesh on elbows and knees, along with the golf-ball sized lump which has appeared in the middle of my knee cap making me look like something out of a freak show.
I’m beginning to think this getting fit lark is far too stressful and dangerous – perhaps it needs rethinking.
This is my idea of a perfect morning at the gym…