I am not one naturally accustomed to the taking of exercise. For many years I have avoided it, a large part of my character being built on utter scorn for sports and physical pursuits. It will seem like a major u-turn, evidence of embarrassing hypocrisy, and possibly mental derangement to see that I — as evidenced by the photo above — that I engage in regular bouts of exercise.
After I was diagnosed with Friedrich’s Ataxia in 2008, and the ability to walk and mobilise was clearly diminishing, and would only further diminish, I responded with the impulse to throw it all away. Over the succeeding years I kept avoiding exercise and ignored its proven benefits to physical and mental health. Both suffered the consequence. I don’t quite know what convinced me to change my mind and tune, but I think I was finally bored with being an unfit, unmotivated boozer.
Coming home after university allowed me to engage in a regular exercise program, and before Christmas I was ‘working out’ six days a week. The cosmetic improvements have been objectively verified, and add to the positive impression I get in the post shower flex in front of the mirror. We all do it folks. For the first time my shoulders have ‘broadened’, and I am very optimistic about the slight abdominal definition that seems real.
There are of course more important benefits; for example, sleeping and waking at reasonable times, a sturdy, reliable appetite, and a general improvement in the mind. I am grateful of these developments, and am enough of an empiricist to bow to the facts. But what of my character? Such a stoic un-sportsman must be reeling from the dissonance of hating exertion yet doing it regardless.
Well, I can say that I have no more interest in exercise than I ever did, so it is not up to me what I do in the course of a workout. Half are conducted at my brothers house where he draws up the program and decides how many reps of each dead-lift or squat I do, and if he asks me I generally agree to do more rather than less. I am a man after all, and my pseudo-masculinity exposes itself in this way.
The other half of my workouts are done at ukinetics in town, a physiotherapy place run by UCOL and publicly funded for those people with cardiac problems — a category I regrettably fall in. The workouts are a little more gentle, but a good counterpoint to the heavy stuff I do on the alternate days. And overall the combination of both has certainly made me feel healthier, and if I could use that rather annoying word; active.
I am just as turned off by sports as I ever was, but I’m better for being less puritanical about it. That is really the best you can do in life, and it is comforting to know that a little hypocrisy doesn’t scuttle the boat, it makes the sailing all the smoother.