Working out

Another thing I have been doing while stuck at home, is weight training. That’s out of character for me. I’ve never “worked out” in my life, never gone to a gym, or otherwise made a deliberate plan to exercise. Not since P.E. classes in middle school. I used to go hiking occasionally, but stopped several years ago as I decided I wasn’t fond of the activity (in retrospect this may have been asthma-related).

The story goes that my husband goes to the gym on a regular basis. All the gyms are closed. So he bought some gym equipment, which we store on the balcony. I proposed I could join him, so this happened.

Each day, we start with some jumping jacks to warm up, and a few stretches. Then my husband picks out some exercises from a book or youtube, focusing on a particular group of muscles. For each exercise we repeat the motion for several sets, and around 10 repetitions per set. The next day we work on a different group of muscles.

It’s completely different from my P.E. classes from when I was a kid.

In school, I recall doing some repetitive motions like toe-touches and sit-ups, then we’d run laps, followed by some sportsball game or another. I recall the exercises all feeling like punishments, reinforced by the fact that laps would actually be used as punishment. And sports were treated like the reward, although they were intolerable too.

Something I was sorely lacking, was an understanding of approximately how painful or exhausting exercise was supposed to feel. For all I knew, I was supposed to stretch as much as I could until it hurt. I remember people referring to cramps but I actually had no idea what they were. I did not understand that I was getting them all the time, and was not supposed to. I did not understand that it was okay to take things slow, that it wasn’t a competition I was failing at.

What I understand now, is that the goal of early physical education should not be just to keep kids fit, but to also get them enthusiastic, to get them in the habit of staying fit. I suppose it’s the same for other subjects as well–what you learn as a kid isn’t much by itself, but it’s important to learn how to learn, and to generate enthusiasm for learning.

Also, the competition of masculinity is a curse.

I’ve understood for a while that working out is worth the time to improve one’s health, but that’s never been enough to motivate me. Especially with all the barriers to entry, like having to get gym clothes and a gym membership, and going to a public gym where everyone knows what they’re doing but me, and might be judgmental about it. I also find it demotivating to think that some guys do it so they can become more attractive, and one thing I understand about myself is that I don’t want that.

But having a home gym, and a supportive and knowledgable partner? I am grateful to have such an opportunity.


  1. says

    Fun is more important than efficiency or appearance, but few “fitness experts” ever stress that in their advertising. To quote health guru Covert Bailey:

    What’s the best exercise? The one you will do.
    What’s the one you will do? The one you enjoy.

    A 2016 study from McMaster University in Hamilton showed that it’s the total weight you move that matters. Lifting 5kg twenty times has the same effect as 10kg ten times.

    Pumping iron: Lighter weights just as effective as heavier weights to gain muscle, build strength

    It is the latest in a series of studies that started in 2010, contradicting the decades-old message that the best way to build muscle is to lift heavy weights.

    “Fatigue is the great equalizer here,” says Stuart Phillips, senior author on the study and professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “Lift to the point of exhaustion and it doesn’t matter whether the weights are heavy or light.”


    “For the ‘mere mortal’ who wants to get stronger, we’ve shown that you can take a break from lifting heavy weights and not compromise any gains,” says Phillips. “It’s also a new choice which could appeal to the masses and get people to take up something they should be doing for their health.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *