I like to think of myself as a fairly active person. I participated in sports all through school and my college campus was not car-friendly (I guess when they built it in 1693 they weren't anticipating the invention of the automobile) so I walked pretty much anywhere within reason. I went dancing on weekends at clubs with my friends. When I moved back to Cleveland I worked cart staff at a golf course, which meant long days of hauling gear over uneven but picturesque terrain, fishing golf balls out of smelly but picturesque wetlands, and washing endless miles of dirty carts. I never really had to worry about my physical health because I was always doing something that required activity.

Then, I started my master's thesis. My day went from humping Dr. Whatsis's bag 12 miles in 78 degree weather to sitting in a lab in front of a microscope identifying algae. My level of daily activity went from probably an 8 or a 9 to a near-0. I didn't really think about it too much until I realized that I was wheezing carrying 4 bags of groceries up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. I was out of shape. I had also gained weight, at least 10 pounds since I graduated college. The most daily activity I had any given day was walking to my car to go to and from work. Something needed to be done.

Someone once told me the most important thing you can do for yourself on exercise is to be honest with yourself about your exercise limitations. People are creatures of habit and they have specific natures about things. It's why extreme diets rarely work, because eventually a person will return to their preferred method of doing things.

Well, I decided that I had to start working out. My current lifestyle no longer supports my previous ability to not exercise and still be okay. I would start an exercise regimen! It will be a lifestyle change! I will attend gym regularly and have a trainer who will keep me in line and I will be buff and ripped! For the record, I hate exercising. I hate going to gyms. I'm one of those people who spend a half hour just getting ready to go to the gym because I don't want people to see me in there looking unkempt with stubbly legs and a "Margaritaville - Been There, Drank That" teeshirt sweating to the oldies on an elliptical. However, I gave it an honest shot. I enrolled in trainer sessions with a delightful young man named Reggie whose nickname at the gym was "Killer."

It was brutal. After the first few sessions I began to wonder if it would just be better if Reggie stuck me in a corner and beat me savagely for a half hour, because I would imagine the level of physical discomfort afterwards to be roughly the same. I lasted out my entire four-month session block and then I stopped seeing Killer.

No, I had to accept my limitations. My nature does not work for gyms. I need a reliable way to work out at home, where I can just roll out of bed with unshaven pits and a pair of boxer shorts with rocket ships on them and sweat all over myself without anyone looking. I bought an elliptical machine for my apartment, a compact model that works quite well...when I'm actually on it. I discovered it's very easy to wake up in the morning, roll out of bed, and walk right past the elliptical while on my way to making a sausage and egg omelette. Drats.

I had to find something that meshed well with some other activity I was already doing on a regular basis. What was I doing on a regular basis? Sitting on my ass.


Behold, the under-desk mini cycler. I get on this in the mornings now and by the time I've finished getting through my emails, I've done 30 minutes of cardio. Then it's a matter of taking a shower and heading off to work. When I work from home, I do at least 4 miles a day. I had to remove the sliding keyboard tray from my desk to accommodate my knees moving up and down while I cycle, and the cycle mechanism does make some noise while I pedal so I wouldn't recommend this for an office building but it's great for home use. I still use the elliptical on weekends but this is a perfect alternative during the busy weekdays for gym-hating chair jockeys like me. I'm sure Reggie would be thrilled.

1 comment:

Alex K. said...

you can carry four bags of groceries at once, thats impressive i can hardly carry my keys without dropping. and thats an awesome solution for your exercise situtation