Like nearly everyone I know, I spend a lot of time slumped over a keyboard, thinking that I really should be more diligent about exercise. Obviously exercise is the secret to staying healthy. But it’s just not my favorite thing.  I’d rather read and eat crunchy cheese snacks.

In high school I swam (slowly), played field hockey (half-heartedly) and lacrosse (poorly).

My college extra-curriculars were playing bridge and smoking cigarettes. Neither required movement or sweating.

Eventually I decided to quit smoking. I took up jogging, theorizing that running and cigarettes are not compatible.  The first time I ever tried to jog was on a one-eighth-mile track, 220 lousy yards. I could not run even half the way around it. Ow-ow-ow said my legs and lungs and heart.  My body didn’t know how to run. But I kept trying, kept going, in a desultory but regular way, trying to get in better shape. (Actually, any shape but terrible, which is what I was.)

For years I was a jogger.  Before work, or on my lunch break, I could squeeze in a slow run, a few times a week.  I even entered the occasional race – 5K or 10K – just to keep motivated.  But when jogging got to be a little boring, I ran less and less.

I needed a change. My exceptionally fit son-in-law Ian was enthusiastic about a certain kind of workout gym (to remain nameless, because it’s polarizing, creating haters and cult accusers).  I was curious.  I found  a local gym on Facebook and posted the question – “do I need to be in shape to join?”

“Absolutely not,” the owner, Tim, said.

A few days later I had signed up for three months and suffered through experienced a training session with Tim. God bless him, not the slightest quiver of a smile betrayed what he was thinking as he led me through squats, push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, cleans, thrusters – a whole new lingo to describe things I couldn’t do.

That was one year ago, and I’ve been going three times a week ever since. The workouts are short and intense. Heart- pounding, muscles-quivering, mind-challenging.

Confession time:  I am mediocre poor terrible. My workout is so scaled it isn’t funny.  I can’t jump over a medball; I sort of step/hop over it, one foot at a time. I’m the weakest person in the gym as far as weight-lifting goes and oh, how I hate any kind of weight-bearing squat. I do push-ups from my knees, and pull-ups with a stretchy band supporting my weight.

The only  thing I’m OK at is rowing; I can keep up.  And, oddly, the toes-on-medball plank. I get into position and go to my happy place.

But 99% of the time, I have to check my ego at the door. I’m always the worst in the room.  So why do I continue to go?

  1. The other members laugh hysterically at me offer encouragement and support, not like most  gyms where you are ignored.
  2. Seeing what some of the women accomplish is inspiring.
  3. And the men are not difficult to look at.
  4. Gradually I am getting stronger. Gradually.
  5. If I don’t go, I will lose any painfully-earned progress I’ve made (see #4).

There’s even a workout named after me, Karen. One hundred fifty wall balls.  Clutching a fat soft medicine ball, you squat, then as you push up out of the squat you hurl the ball up against the wall. The women’s ball weighs 12 pounds (20 for men), which doesn’t sound too heavy, but after a few throws it’s an object of hatred, especially when you’re tired and mishandle the catch and it punches you in the face.

We hate Karen.

Now tell me, what’s your favorite kind of exercise?


6 comments to Xercised

  • No facebook. Don’t want account. See comment abovein response to article.

  • Have severe osteoporosis arthritis and can only move freely underwater so jog 1 BORING hour 3 x week in salt water indoor pool. Lucky I am writer (working on 4th mystery) so have many inventive excuses for not doning the bathing suit on a cold winter morning. Best Ann

  • Good for you, Karen! Keep up the hard work. I like to mix it up because I can get easily bored. Some days it’s a long walk up steep hill, the next day sprints on the running trail, then the next day hitting the machines at the gym (where I can zone out a little while watching Mad Men on netflix).

  • Judy Blank

    I have found a class that motivates me, makes me feel young, energetic and keeps me in shape. It is BIKRAM YOGA. The class is 90 minutes in a hot room. It is the best thing I have ever done for myself for the past 6 years. Check it out! The studios are popping up everywhere. If you find one near you, try it out. Caution….it is addictive.

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