Why do you do it?

Today was a swimming day for me.  It went smoothly enough, but it was one of those times when I got out of the pool thinking I’d just crossed something off my to-do list rather than feel Godlike afterwards.

When I got out, I took a second to look over the people in the pool.  There were a couple of competitive swimmers — one using a pull buoy to practice arm technique, another with a kickboard, an elderly lady doing her slow, steady laps (she had that look of someone for whom this has been a routine for decades), another gentleman who’s rehabbing a knee injury, and a woman who joined recently who was worried about whether or not she’d fit in or be welcome because she loved to swim but didn’t exactly have the body of a competitive swimmer.  She’s been a dedicated regular since she joined.  The characteristic arm and shoulder development you get from swimming is starting to show on her, but I’m not sure if commenting would be productive or not. I wish I’d noticed her skill level when she started, ’cause I’d certainly feel like commenting on improvements there would be okay.

I’ve been working a lot on ScrewSkinny in the afternoons and I’m finding myself wincing as I write this.  You see, so many books about health and fitness as they relate to exercise talk about how wonderful exercise is and how you’ll love being all active and stuff.  I state right in the intro that I don’t particularly love being active.  I’m a geek and a writer and most of what I love to do is pretty damn sedentary.  I work out because if I don’t, the atrophy of my body will effect my brain more than I’m willing to accept.  Sure, being able to move well and with power feels very, very good.  But it hasn’t gotten me climbing mountains.  There are physical things I like well enough (get your mind out of the gutter!  I’m talking about dancing!) that I’ll do them from time to time but they’re hardly passions.  I’ll always find philosphical debate over a cup of something tasty more fun than ‘most anything.  Put me in a room with people who have interesting stories to tell and I’m in Heaven.

For me, exercise is time away from writing or learning new stuff.  It’s no accident that most of what I do physically is very technical, so to do it, I have to learn new stuff.  It’s certainly no accident that I write a lot about it.  I was thinking that once I’ve mastered the flip turn hurdle and go on to Butterfly as a stroke I regularly incorporate into my workout, I’ll probably move on to a new form of dance, or finally get into something that involves projectiles and aiming (something I’m notoriously bad at.  Fortunately racketball is physically demanding) so that I’ll have something to learn again.

This last paragraph just hit me as a chapter I need to add.  It’ll talk about finding something that exercise can give you that’s in harmony with your natural tastes an inclinations.

So my fitness book is not about convincing people they need to love being athletes.  Oh if someone gets active and decides they love that, cool.  But not everyone will.  If there was a pill that gave all the benefits of exercise, I’d take it and spend a lot more time writing and reading things.

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