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The Art of Unselfconscious Exercise

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Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee
Pic: Ed Yourdon

Personal trainer: $80
Boot Camp run through the park: $250
Clippy water bottle hip attachment: $20
Maintaining a cool, calm and collected façade whilst sweating like a pig? Priceless.
I saw people running this week.
This may not seem like an earth-shattering revelation, but wait, there’s more.
I saw people running, at 6.30 a.m., before even the pigeons were up.
In the freezing cold.
Naked. (Okay, bike shorts and those little tank-top things.)
Why do people do this?
Why, when most households have this mightily convenient item called a bed.
You sleep in it during winter.
It’s called hibernation. Bears do it; we should endeavour to follow their excellent example.
Yet why is it that people determinedly leave the path of God and nature, take off half their clothes, and go for a nice relaxing two hour jog in sub zero temperatures?
Is there a secret club? Do you get paid? Is there a handshake? Do you get Borders discounts?
Why do people do it?
I’m very interested in this because you would have to pay me a lot of money to run anywhere in public, let alone wearing almost nothing and flinging various limbs in several different directions. (This is what clubbing is for).
In fact there would have to be a medium-to-large fire, a 70 % off sale at Max, or an extremely delicious chocolate sundae involved for me to even contemplate it.
(If the Big Wednesday winner happens to read this, let me restate- will run for large amounts of cash.)
Now, you might ask why the hell I was out in semi-Antarctic weather at the crack of dawn, but I have an excuse- I have this thing called rent every week I have to pay, and my job insists that I be in early- thus, the witnessing of The Exercisers. I was walking. Not running.
If I had a choice, I would not run every day for the rest of my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I am an advocate of exercise and healthy eating, particularly when good food karma allows for a Denny’s Oreo Shake.
I even manage to do a couple of Pilate’s workouts a week from the relative safety and comfort of my home. It makes me feel happy, lets me double check that I can still touch my toes, and allows me to wear the afore-mentioned clubbing outfits.
But throw me in front of Other People, force me to wear lycra and state-of-the-art sneakers, and I’m not a happy clam.
In fact, I’m a very self-conscious clam, who generally spends the whole time thinking obviously somehow I must be running incorrectly (yes, really), counting how many parts of my body are wobbling and shouldn’t be, and, while I’m at it, that other (usually blonde) girl sailing effortlessly through the trees really looks more suited to this endeavour than I do.
Is this what the attraction is?
The people I saw running looked like they really did not need to run; in the same way Arnold Schwarzenegger does not need to lift several small automobiles at once- you know they have the physique to do it already.
But maybe it’s an ego thing- look at me in my Rebel Sport gear, thumping along listening to my clippy-on MP3 player, sipping from my clippy-on protein shake.
Witness me glide along avenues and lanes, luv, having exactly enough air in my lungs, the correct amount of sweat on my brow, no sign of impending heart failure whatsoever.
Not that I’m jealous, bitter, or have had any bad experiences whatsoever relating to this form of exercise.
But there must be some personal satisfaction derived from it, otherwise, like me, all the world would be firmly ensconced deep in their beds of a Monday morning, not prancing around in their expensive sneakers, making everyone else feel a sense of deep bewilderment that anyone could find it in themselves to prance this way.
Maybe runners, (at least the ones I saw) could, once in a while, stop and appear to be out of breath. Maybe they could wear ugly, baggy clothing on occasion.
Perhaps, to make me feel better, they could sweat.
Make it very clear this is a challenge, not your usual super-human daily activity, just after eating two egg whites and a glass of orange juice and just before leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Please? For me?
If you are a runner and are reading this, obviously this is a pretty narrow concept of the whole (really, really) painful endeavour I have…but, seriously. Why?
I am so firmly in the non-running camp that I’m practically not moving; but if someone would care to enlighten me as to what all the fuss is about, I might not be profoundly grateful, but at least running would not go in the What The? Box along with Paul Henry, Spirulina, and wedge heels.
I’ll be enjoying my running-less weekend, hope you do also.

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