The Internet is freight with gym-goers preaching the good word of health manuals and protein shakes. Every so often, us normal humans give in to the curiosity of what it’s like to ride on the stationery bike of life that these spinners and runners make look so easy and fun. Start slowly, they said. It’ll be hard at first, they said, but you’ll grow to love it and in no time, you won’t be able to imagine a day without some good old hard-earned sweat.
Faced with these heartfelt testimonies and daily words of inspiration on our Instagram explore feed, a switch slowly begins to flicker into life in a dark, cobwebby corner of our minds. A heady combination of optimism and positive vibes creep into the abandoned space and slowly actualizes until it eventually becomes a fully-formed thought, beaming with golden light. In a state of resolve we blow the dust off the Fitness Department of our Encyclopedias and become acquainted with terms like “chia seeds”, “muscle mass”, “dry-fit” and “crunches”. Here is the actual unfolding of events and the thought process of how it feels like to begin exercising again, as told by a highly-experienced exercise dropout.
1. First, you take an ironic drive to a nearby park and step out of the car in an oversized t-shirt that usually wouldn’t be permitted out of the house (but is highly acceptable and even encouraged in this case) and leggings that haven’t been worn since high school. With you, you bring your phone and stuff your headset into your pocket as an afterthought.
2. “Do I start off with a light run or is that too ambitious?”, “I’ll start jogging once I reach that funny tree”, “Wait, will it look weird if I just start running all of a sudden? Should I go to the toilet first then come out in a jog?”, “Okay, just stop overthinking this—WAIT, IS THAT AN ANIMAL? IS THAT A CHIPMUNK?”
3. Once you’re already jogging, you begin slowly then gradually ease into a confident run, feeling almost smug as you overtake all the other walkers. “I feel great! This is amazing! I’m starting to get what they say about running! I can totally see this growing on me!”
4. Thirty seconds later, “Is it too soon to stop yet? Is it possible that they might think I’m a professional sprinter who’s training for a sprinting tournament? Or can they tell my metabolism is just crap and that I’m about to pass out?”
5. Forced to slow down to an eventual crawl, you start stretching your arms in a farce of cooling down like you know what you’re doing. “Nothing to see here, guys, just your average exerciser stretching her, uh, hamstrings”.
6. You start off again in a light jog, this time at a more realistic pace. You start to get bad flashbacks of the time you decided to exercise from the time before and the other one before that. “THIS. IS. BORING. I’M BORED.”
7. You try to motivate yourself by imagining potential social scenarios of you and your new fit body as you bump into people you haven’t seen in a while. “Oh, this old thing!” “10 kilos down but I’m still looking to lose a few more before I get to my target weight,” and “Yeah, just seventy laps a day *insert casual what-to-do shrug*.”
8. You look down at your watch five minutes later to see that it’s only been 45 seconds since you started. What the-
You make a deal with yourself that if you can sprint all the way to the parking lot then you can call it a day. You begin your sprint on the tips of your toes, like the exercising noob that you are.
“I can see it! My car, I can see my car! I’m going to make it!” Three seconds later, you run out of breath and stop where you are. You walk all the way to your car and take four unsatisfactory gulps out of a sweaty lukewarm water bottle.
Breath regained, you shakily drive out of the parking lot, eager to put distance between the past thirty-seven minutes that you’ll never get back. You leave the windows open in the hopes that you’ll continue sweating out any stray calories, while already craving a nice, refreshing plastic cup of ice-blended boba something.
“How about a cold-pressed juice to carry on with this healthy streak you’ve already got going on today?” the perky blonde in-house personal trainer pops up in your head.
“Don’t put it to wast-” but you can barely hear her over the drowning sound of you gulping down mouthfuls of icy, sugary, pearl-laden goodness while waiting for your hearty meal to arrive.