Saturday, June 28, 2008

Boring Exercise is Pointless

Photo by: Abraaj

Summer is well on its way, so let’s admit it, you wish you looked a tad better in the summer clothes than you do now. Or rather, that hottie you’ve been eyeing looks damn good in summer clothes and you’re feeling a bit insecure.

Your reaction? Start hitting the gym full speed. Hold on, there’s a problem: The gym can suck. If you have a consistent workout plan that you follow regularly, read no further, you’ve developed a great habit. But it seems to me that most people have no problem exercising, they just have a problem exercising consistently. And, unfortunately, “getting in shape” which is often soft-language for, “changing the shape of my body” (which I’ll argue, is a totally acceptable thought and not as vain as is commonly perceived), requires extremely consistent exercise. Do I need to back that point up? How many people do you know that have achieved enviable fitness goals by going every once in a while, or whenever they feel like it?

I contend that if you’re not exercising regularly, you’re bored.

Further, it seems to me that there’s no sense in invoking some idealized theory of willpower and trying to force yourself to do it. That often just leads to not going, and feeling like a loser. Forget that, if you’re bored there’s only one solution: get your little kid on and make it fun.

There’s really no sense in trying to explain fun exercise, everyone knows what that is: being dead tired but wishing you weren’t so you could keep playing just a little longer. I’ll admit, this most easily translates to cardio. But cardio is what most people hate to do but know they should; most folks lifting weights like to lift weights. Forget the treadmill that faces the wall, or sitting on a stationary bike at some slow or moderate pace and trying to read US magazine at the same time: are you really going to be able to sustain that for months? Or years?

For alternatives to treadmills, stationary bikes, the elliptical, the stairmaster, and all the the other cardio machines you may find boring or just can’t do consistently, try: sports (basketball, soccer, frisbee, tennis), running outside, running with a friend outside, setting a goal for an x mile run and working your way to it, finding cool trails and new places to run and hike on the weekends, spinning classes (these will kick your ass, but they sure as hell won’t be boring), biking outside on a real bike. Obviously the list goes on (Did I miss any great ideas for fun cardio?).

Now, there are some people that go to the gym, pick a machine, use it, and do this consistently, but they exercise so consistently that they have no need to click on this post title in their RSS feed. If that’s you, I’m impressed you’ve read this far. But for the rest of us that find staring at a wall and running in the same place more boring than hearing John McCain speak, try making it fun. I promise it’ll improve consistency.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All of your suggested activities are impractical during the week, because work and daylight make safe time outdoors rather limited (and I am not hiking trails alone at night).
The last time I visited the local community fitness center, I was told I should be working out for TWO HOURS at a time, six days a week. Each time I visit a trainer they tell me everything I'm doing is wrong.
I'm sick of it! Exercise is NOT fun!
Sports teams will only let you join of you don't suck already, just like third grade.