Squats. Perhaps one of the least glamorous words ever. Next to burpees of course. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld (I think)…what are we all training for exactly?!
Look, I’m not going to sit here and mock people who know what a squat or a burpee is, and I won’t try to convince you that life should be glamorous all the time. Like anyone else, I’ve felt the post-hot-yoga buzz and mentally committed to working out more regularly pretty much every day of my life. I love working out when I do it, but at the same time, there’s something that irritates me about the whole concept.
I think that part of it is that working out is something that people do to get through their lives, but isn’t that the saddest thing you’ve ever heard?! Former colleagues from the advertising industry would get up at 5am so that they could get to the gym before work because it gave them energy for the twelve-hour day to come. I mean, great, but also, what the fuck?! I love work and I love success, but what’s the fucking point if you don’t have a self outside of that? Are you going to be lying on your deathbed feeling hashtag grateful that you spent your own precious time kissing some clients’ ass on a Wednesday night? Fuck no!
The other obvious problem that I have with working out is that I genuinely prefer not to.
I love lying in bed daydreaming. I will readily accept a pancake butt if it means I can sit at my computer and write in my free time. If I have the choice between going to a yoga class and drinking red wine with my friends on a Thursday night, I’d take the friends, every time. I guess this is all very much a skinny girl mentality, sure. For the record, I definitely feel ashamed when I’m surrounded by women with toned glutes and no bingo wings at Bondi and that’s a choice I’m happy to make. I don’t get it, I don’t want to get it, and that’s that.
Granted, I did exercise a lot when I was younger, but many of my gymnast buddies went on to become yoga teachers or circus performers. I started to feel like there was something wrong with me. Am I innately lazy and therefore not deserving of success? Then I realised that there was one thing that did work for me, that I loved, and seemed to keep me in shape while giving me those juicy endorphins.
Two words. Random. Movement.
Let me explain. Whenever my boyfriend is not home, I turn music up really loud and I fling myself around the house like a drunk Rudolf Nureyev. I’m dancing and I’m really fucking glad no-one is watching, because I’m expressing myself in a way that is both profound and completely carefree. It’s a luxury that in a way, I have waited my whole life for, because you just don’t reach the same level of inhibition with your flatmate in the next room. If you don’t have access to a “safe dancing space” then hit up No Lights No Lycra where someone else provides the dancefloor, the tunes and just enough light to stop you expressing yourself violently into someone else’s face.
The other form of movement that I’m especially fond of is cleaning. Vigorously. I’ll put a treatment in my hair and a dirty tshirt on and I clean the house top to bottom. I vacuum, I scrub, I tidy, I run up and down the stairs, and I sweat profusely. Not glow, not perspire, but sweat. I’m totally pooped afterwards and I have a lovely hot shower and light a scented candle and spend time relishing in my beautiful clean home and a true sense of achievement. Honestly, it’s the most therapeutic thing for me, and I feel exactly the same as after yoga. It’s not that I don’t think yoga is the bee’s knees, I really do, and I recommend everyone do downward dog every single day like I wish I did, but I really think it’s the exertion and absorption in the task and general movement that is the missing piece of the puzzle. Having a clean and tidy space within your home is great for creativity and is an integral part of mindfulness, so I promise, it’s all for a good cause too.
Another activity you can do that don’t involve the gym? Gardening! Bend from the knees and get your fingers in the dirt; really engage with the soil. And what about good old fashioned team sports? Caveat: team sports are not for me, but one of my very good friends plays soccer every weekend and just loves it. She has a beautiful bond with her teammates and runs around in the fresh air on Sunday afternoons. My sister plays hockey every week. She thrives in the competitive environment, she hones an actual skill, and she is part of the community of the team. Are they “working out” or “feeling the burn” or “punishing” themselves at the gym? Fuck no, why would they? What they are doing is something they enjoy, and something that gets their bodies up and about. What could be better than that?
I’m writing this because I’d love to see people getting more in touch with their bodies without having to spend a fortune on a gym membership or whatever. I also think it’s bullshit that anyone should spend a single moment of their time feeling guilty about not going to that pump class. Let’s be real, most people sit at a desk all day, you don’t really need a whole bunch of muscles. Walking, dancing, gardening and the incidental living-room-floor-crunch are great things to do and are absolutely as valid as 30 minutes on the treadmill, and possibly more nourishing to your soul.