Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Silence of the Hamstrings

I’ve never been one for video games nor do I salivate over the latest technology. I can’t say I’m afraid of it but have more of a certain distrust of The Hype and a desire to keep life pretty simple. I also don’t have a lot of disposable income. So the other day I noticed Dooce was giving away some Wii Fit sets and I immediately started to covet. Sadly being a Canadian resident I am not eligible for the contest. However, I suddenly decided that I desperately neeeeeed one of these things. Admittedly I’ve never tried one. I’ve never actually seen one in the shiny and plastic-y flesh. But for some reason I am absolutely convinced that this, THIS contraption is the key to my physical fitness reform.

I have a long and sordid affair with exercise that has left me wary as well as emotionally and physically beaten. It all started when I was born. I don’t have any other reason why I was never really adventurous physically or competitive on any level other than it has got to be missing from my DNA. Kids in the playground would run around screaming their fool heads off swinging on monkey bars and flinging their bodies in all sorts of dangerous ways and I was the one sitting off to the side with a book. As a child I was cautious and always afraid to get hurt. Perhaps it was that I was very small and not very strong. Or maybe it was that I was a city kid who wasn’t exposed to the great outdoors a lot. In any case I was, from an early age, an obvious target for ridicule and torment by ‘regular’ kids.

When I was 10 years old we moved from the city centre into a suburb and the new school had a very different type of Phys Ed curriculum. Specifically it was much more competitive, team based and not at all user friendly for geeky little wimps like me. Very soon I found myself caught up in a nightmare of bullying-verbal, physical and even, frankly, sexual from my classmates. It certainly didn’t help that my PE teacher laughed at my expense frequently and quickly nicknamed me ‘Useless’ in front of my peers. It got so bad that my younger brother soon was identified by this teacher as ‘Useless’s Brother’ and eventually transferred into a completely different school as following in the footsteps of my academic reputation was too unbearable to contemplate.

Some highlights of my PE classes were team captains arguing over who would NOT get to have me on their team. I also was kicked in the face causing my front tooth to crack and called a wuss when I asked to go to the school nurse. Good times. I could go on an on but I fear, should I do so, I may eventually find myself in the corner of my closet weeping and viciously stabbing my lone dusty pair of running shoes.

Later I was diagnosed with asthma which explained why my stamina wasn’t so hot but it didn’t take long before I was dreading PE to the point of other physical symptoms. Once at the doctor office I begged to be excused from PE class due to some small ailment. The doc sensed my desperation and asked me some pointed questions. I explained everything with tears rolling down my face and he wrote me a note excusing me from PE for the rest of my school life. And then the angels sang and the weight of the entire 6th grade co-ed second period PE class was lifted from my shoulders. Literally.

A year or so went by and I joined a friendly neighbourhood girls softball team with much encouragement from my friends (AKA: peer pressure) and assurances (from my deluded parents) that it was all about having fun and it is not whether you win or lose but…say it now, people…how you play the game. I hated it and I totally sucked at it but I tried to be a good sport and did my very best, which was, obviously, not very good at all. Then one day I overheard the coaches talking about how they thought our team was ahead enough to put me on the field. I was so crushed and embarrassed and learned that for most obsessively competitive folk sportsmanship was a load of bullshit and even pot-bellied middle-aged coaches of girls softball teams only cared about winning.

So now I am an adult and as much I know that all that happened in the past is over and the bullies were a bunch of ass-wipes who are now probably meth addicts or in jail I STILL dread any kind of sports or exercise. I dread it, dread it, DREEEEEEAAAD EEEEET! I become paralyzed and absolutely refuse to participate in any kind of organized sports and fall into a shame spiral at the thought of working out.

I’ve tried all sorts of fitness regiments and I either hate it, can’t afford it, or I hurt myself. Damaged rotator cuffs and shin splints. I think I even broke my axel once. Pinched nerves and pulled muscles. $25 individual yoga classes which make you sweat. Crowded and smelly gyms where it is more about getting picked-up than getting fit. Driving in traffic and costly parking fees for specialty fitness centres catering to us gals who are chunky and just really want to be left alone when we copiously sweat while doing puny exercises with eeensy teensy weights. All of it = FAIL!

I get discouraged easily and bored almost immediately. And being prone to panic attacks in crowded and noisy places doesn’t help. But I have to GET OFF MY ASS! Some way, somehow. I’m putting on weight, I have arthritis in my foot and my right upper body is so stiff and sore from all my breast re-construction surgery even getting started on anything is daunting. I can’t even say I am out of shape as that would imply I once was fit. It feels like a lose/lose situation and I am not talking about the saddlebags below my hips.

But what? WHAT? What is out there for me that isn’t too hard, too expensive or too humiliating in some way?

And that is where the Wii Fit comes in. Yes, it is more than I can afford but it is certainly cheaper than a year’s gym membership. Bowling, boxing, tennis and yoga…interactive style! All sorts of fun stuff that I couldn’t and wouldn’t normally do right at my fingertips along with goals to set and achieve. My own little white cubic fitness instructor! It sounds like it just might work. Is this Wii Fit thing the way to go for a fitness-phobe like me?


torrie said...


Sharkey said...

You should totally get it. If you can find it. We got Wii Fit a few weeks ago, and I've been pretty consistent with it. I love playing a video game and calling it "exercise." I actually am a little stiff from the hour I spent last night.

Plus, once you have the console, you can get Guitar Hero and rock the house.

HAR said...

What about taking your "booger" out for a long walk? I have never joined a gym, I am a major spaz but even I can walk.
If you walk for a long time, consistently, you should look and feel better.

Susie said...

I hope you get the Wii Fit. The console plus the Fit are pretty pricey, we got it "for Father's Day" last month. But we do actually use it, even I, with WTF and very weak, etc., can find stuff to do on it.

I don't have a competitive bone in my body, so I hated team sports in gym, too. I like to walk, to dance, sometimes ride bikes (all that pre-WTF). I like lifting weights, too. I hope you find something that feels like you're being good to your body. You deserve that.

kalki said...

It is a freaking workout just to LOCATE one of the damn things. I finally got my fingers on a Wii, but hell if I can obtain a Fit. Once I was even told by a store that they had one IN STOCK! RIGHT NOW! and I RUSHED over there (in 7 minutes flat) and they had sold it in the time it took me to get there. I was breathing hard and sweating from busting my butt to get there so, really, it's keeping me Fit without even using it.

Bucky Four-Eyes said...

I SO hear you on the PE thing as someone who took endless shit about my inability to perform physical tasks which required coordination and any kind of competitive spirit. Really, it was just a safe zone for sadistic little fucks. I didn't think it was a fair exchange, since I never got to ridicule them for their cluelessness in English classes.

Can't give you any practical advice on exercise, since I, um, don't. Report back on the Wii Fit if you get it!

JP said...

Wii Fit is sweet. It doesn't mock you out like your previous sucky experiences either! And the beauty of it is if it annoys you too much, you turn it off!

Ern said...

Good lord, it sounds like you went to PE in Hell. WTF?

I'm a big fan of working out at home. It is quick and the shower is right there at the end and nobody looks at you funny. I think you should get the Wii Fit, save up for it if you have to.

In the meantime, have you ever done exercise videos at home? I've used a couple from (Power90 and Slim in Six) that are pretty fun to do.

Good luck!

mrtl said...

I hug your inner little Kranki. :(

Tried Wii and decided I was much too uncoordinated for it. DDR was much better for me; at least I'm not swinging -- and possibly throwing -- items around, causing potential damage and injury to others.

Recently got The Biggest Loser DVD as well. I haven't gotten to the part where Bob talks dirty to me, but I'm hopeful I'll get there... someday...

Good luck whatever you do!

eclectic said...

Motion is life. Virtually any motion is better than no motion, and if the WiiFit gives you incentive to move, then it's perfect!

lawyerchik said...

I am a bit on the underprivileged side when it comes to technology, so if you wish to Wii, Wii on! :) But until then, walking is a good way to start - so is tai chi, which helps build balance and endurance (surprisingly!) and also trains you to kick a** if someone tries to scuff sand in your face (or engages in other types of bullying behaviors).

It is a gentle stretching, and while they usually offer it in community-ed-type places (which usually means small classes and not so much cash outlay), they also have videos that you can do at home.

Hope you find something you like, though. I am in the same boat - no exercise for over a year due to TWO grade 3-4 sprained ankles last year - and I'm feeling the urge to move about more.