A competitive exercise

Exercise. Ask anyone you know what their workout of choice is and you are guaranteed to be in for a good time. People seem to get just as passionate and worked up about their fitness routines as they do about those over-priced kitchen gadgets that I wrote about in my last blog….

The thing I’ve been noticing a lot of lately though is the growing amount of fitness shaming that seems to be gaining momentum. It appears to be the in thing to one up each other in one’s fitness goals. One person says “I went for a walk around the lake” his mate says “I ran around the lake” the next bloke says “well I ran around the lake twice” and the last little champion pipes in with “I ran around the lake twice and then up that near-by mountain.” Phew. I get exhausted just hearing about their pissing, whoops (!) I mean fitness, competitions.

Now here’s the thing. I’ve witnessed this phenomenon first hand recently in amongst a group of people I hang around with pretty regularly.  The Tough-Alpha-Male-Pack (let’s call them the TAMP’s from now on – yes?) all like to run. Not just a leisurely jog. I mean run. Competition level park runs, fun runs and everything in between. And they are seriously competitive about it. They compare times, kilometres and possibly butt crack to armpit sweat ratios – you name it. Anything they can compete on they do and they are wanting to compete in an upcoming fun run. It’s only a small one though kiddies at a mere 10kms.

So then the focus of the room shifts to the Less-Alpha-Male-Pack (LAMP’s? No?). They hold these top dogs in the highest regard – I mean there is serious pedestal action happening. These kids are very keen to prove themselves worthy. And so it begins. They want to join their gang. The air is heavy with cries of “I want to do a fun run too!” It’s like they are so in awe of these guys that they have to prove themselves worthy. Funny thing is though, that most of them have that startled “what the hell have I signed myself up for” look in their panicked little eyes.

Then, very hesitantly, their attention is on not-so-little old me. Now I’ve never been known to be backwards in coming forwards (although I will often trip myself over in the process). I simply state to them all that “I don’t run unless there’s something chasing me (or there’s a shirtless Channing Tatum at the finish line. Or OK even free beer. Who wouldn’t run for free beer?) So don’t look at me. But I’m happy to walk it.” And with that I’m dismissed and life continues on. Team shirts are ordered, training sessions scheduled and witty, inspirational hashtags abound.

It’s not like I can’t run. I can run. I just don’t think the rest of the world needs to witness it. When I run/jog my arse flies up and smacks me in the back of the head and is quickly countered by my boobs which fling themselves into my forehead. Think of me as a human Newton’s Cradle. You know those hanging, clicky metal ball thingies that some of your colleagues have on their desk and insist on playing with instead of concentrating on the brilliant idea you are pitching to them. I sort of look like that. Then there’s the sweating and the wheezing and the fact that my thighs are rubbing so much that there’s a very real risk I could set myself or those unlucky enough to be in my close vicinity on fire. That is certainly not something I like to share in public.

But despite all this I really do enjoy exercise. I love a good, long walk. I enjoy the gym and swimming. I adore Pilates and yoga. I even feel a little bit cranky when I don’t get any exercise in some days because I know how good I feel after it and my body misses it.

And I am very competitive. It’s just that I only compete with myself. I like to push myself to walk faster and further. I want to be able to hold a plank longer each and every time I do one. I recently got one of those fitness watches and I love, love, love to chart my progress each week with it.

But I’m not competitive with others in this arena. I genuinely feel that it’s a great thing if people find something they love and can excel at it. Good on them. I just don’t feel a burning desire to grind them down and leave them in my dust.

Does this mean I’m out of the gang? Yep. Does it bother me? Not at all. Because I know I’m happy doing my own thing and I’m being genuine to myself and not trying to keep up with people doing something I don’t really want to be doing.

So this Fat-Old-Unfit-Lady (FOUL. Seriously? I couldn’t do better than that?) won’t be allowed to hang out with the cool kids and that’s ok by me. Because ultimately I think it doesn’t matter what you do it only matters that you do something and enjoy it.

I can feel a hashtag coming on…..


P.S. Who on earth came up with the name Fun Run anyway? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone running who actually looks like they’re having fun. Well apart from that one guy who always says hi as he laps me 15 times on my lake walk. Except I think he may have drunk the lake water so who knows how right in the head he actually is……even our water rats don’t go in that lake…..


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