It’s good for you isn’t it, exercise? Oh yes, all that running about, squeezing things, pushing things, pedalling things, jumping up and down, going puce. It’s healthy! Muscles get bigger, bums get smaller and one emits the smug glow of someone whose endorphins smell of raw achievement.

I hate exercise. God, I hate it. Unsurprisingly I’m quite lazy by nature. I find it hard to motivate myself to do anything you’re ‘supposed’ to do, anything tedious but essential or anything that’s going to leave me feeling as though someone has doused my muscles in Deep Heat then run me over with their Land Rover.

Ever since school people have said ‘You just need to find something you enjoy! Then exercise won’t seem like such a chore!’ Generally these are people who have as much need for a sports bra as a hedgehog does for a provisional driving licence, go baby pink when they exercise instead of ecclesiastical purple and count fruit as carbohydrates. Or they’re my mother.

Well I’m sorry but I have yet to find any form of exercise that doesn’t make me want to claw my face off with boredom. For a start I was always rubbish at games at school. I’m tall and quite strong so on Sports Day I was always forced into discus, shot put or javelin which I was fine with as I didn’t have to run anywhere. I just stood and chucked things with varying degrees of accuracy and injury to spectators. In the fifth year I was inexplicably signed up for the 1500m race. 1500m! Do you have any idea how far that is?! Well obviously it’s exactly 1500m but in terms of the number of times round the track it was close to a million (give or take). When the day came I turned it into a comedy event. I walked it, making faces at my mates and taking exaggerated bows every time I did a full circuit of the track. The event had finished and they were setting up the hurdles by the time I sauntered nonchalantly over the finish line. I couldn’t have run 1500 metres if there’d been a pack of rabid dogs chasing me.

Over the years I’ve tried netball (rubbish at team games), basketball (ditto), volleyball (can’t hit straight), yoga (boring), pilates (boring and farty), swimming (lung capacity of a toddler) aerobics (fuck off) and have been a member of several different gym chains. One of my major issues is having the coordination of an epileptic elephant, so when it comes to doing aerobics I’m always the one going the wrong way and knocking my lycra-clad classmates over like dominoes. I once did a step aerobics class and was so out of time the teacher took my step away because I was putting the others off their rhythm. I continued the session stamping away on the floor like a drill sergeant in a tap class. I was mortified.

Gyms completely intimidate me. The smell of sweat and envy heavy in the air as all the really toned people stretch and flex in front of mirrors. The girls with their perfect ponytails swinging in time as they pound the treadmill or swish their legs about on the cross trainer. The matching lycra, complimentary rucksacks and ear-splittingly loud music. I would sidle in, clad in my gigantic man’s t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms and do an apologetic half hour workout before dashing into the changing rooms to have a panic attack in a cubicle before going home.

I don’t have the stamina or attention span for running. Pounding mindlessly along a pavement, your skeleton rattling with every step, sweat plastering your hair to your face and motorists pointing and laughing…OK so not that last one unless you’re really unlucky but the rest is right. Besides, who wants to go out running when the kettle’s just boiled and Columbo’s on?

The truth of the matter is, I wish I wasn’t like this. I wish I loved exercise, that the memory of the endorphin high post-workout was enough to keep me coming back for more. I wish I cared less about what people thought so that looking like a beetroot having a stroke didn’t bother me. I wish I was coordinated and energetic and enthusiastic instead of clumsy, lethargic and cynical, but I’m not. This is, unfortunately, me. I am destined for brittle bones, clogged arteries and a heart that will probably require a bypass by the age of 45. Unless I can motivate myself, find the spare money every month for gym membership and find the time to travel the three hour round trip to a gym where no one knows me, then perhaps it’s not too late to discover a love of exercise. I’ll just put my feet up and think about it.


18 thoughts on “Exercise

  1. I exercise almost every single day for around an hour and have done for some time. I am fit (as in phsyically fit, I make no great claims in the other sense) and could probably outrun most people. And you know what? I f**king hate it. Exercise is f**king horrible. It doesn’t get any easier the more you do, if anything it gets f**king harder. That endorphin thing is bulls**t made up by people who want to pretend there’s another reason that they’re torturing themselves beyond vanity and the enjoyment of a sense of smug self-righteousness. Don’t do it, kids.

  2. You obviously have a fast metabolism. So rejoice, you don’t need to do all the exercise, not to become a lard-arse. That’s the real reason they exercise. You don’t have to do it, so don’t feel guilty.

  3. No one likes exercise, well, except (maybe) athletes. I go to a fairly cheap run down gym three times a week, as late as I can when it’s quiet, there is plenty of space, the only other women there are as equally desperate as me, and that’s pretty rare. More often than not in the last hour its me, and a few guys down in the free weights area (best ignored). So I can sweat and retch my guts trying to persuade my body I am not 41 and practically dead to the men, or women (being an equal opportunity single saddo).

  4. I buy myself new yoga pants and running shoes for inspiration. So comfy are the pink flash jazz pants, that they are perfection for curling up on my sofa. My Easytones are so beautiful and shiny that I wouldn’t DREAM of disrespecting them by having sweaty feet inside. I have boobs, therefore my body isn’t designed for exercise!

  5. have you considered a Martial art? I do karate and every so often I get to ‘accidentally’ hit a child. As a teacher you have no idea how theraputic this is to me.

  6. Jesus Christ, this is exactly me. Have moved house and have great intentions of trying to take up running until you just reminded me how vile and fucking dull it is.

    Thank you. Now where’s that cuppa…

  7. So glad to know I’m not the only one who hates exercise, the gym and sports. As much as I’d like to like it, it just does not happen for me. I just start back to the gym, so here’s hoping for the best, that maybe I can just form a good habit!!

  8. OK, I was in your camp, well and truly, for a long time. My husband and I used to chase joggers around Battersea park with a bottle of wine, that was the limit of our exercise. However, and of course there has to be one… I had surgery on my spine 3 months ago, before that I was told I couldn’t do pretty much anything, I mean not even go in the sea due to the risk of a severe spinal cord injury and let me tell you, there is nothing like someone telling you that you can’t do anything to make you really really really want to do something.
    So now I run. it’s a fuck you Mr Doctorman run, 3-4 times a week, I just entered for the NY Marathon. Also, I’m a parent these days and whereas I used to be very fond of the old recreationals, they aren’t really an option anymore but I have to say, the endorphin release I get from running and yoga (yeah that too), makes me laugh like a loon for no apparent reason and, I truly believe, stops me from going to jail for killing everyone around me/burning stuff down/robbing banks/kidnapping annoying people etc.

  9. There are lots of ways to get the Ol’ Endorphin Kick. I just discovered a new one the other night when I got 1/2 of the skin on the inside of my pinkie finger trapped between an aerosol can and its lid. Couldn’t even get a grip on the can to pull the cap back off – I just danced around my kitchen howling until my husband ran in and pulled it off. 20 minutes later I was filled with the delectable, warm, golden glow of endorphins.

    Who needs exercise-induced endorphins when you could just injure yourself in the peace n’ quiet of your own home?

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