Friday, March 4, 2011

Pressured to Exercise

My idea of fun
We all recommend things to friends that we think they might like, based on other things that they like.  You may recommend a book in their favorite genre or a movie that you think they'd enjoy.  But you wouldn't recommend a fictional TV show to someone because you saw them watching the news or a baseball game.

The rules are different when it comes to exercise.  It seems like people are always looking for ways to pull you in. If you say that you enjoy an active activity, people assume that you're in it for the exercise and that you would enjoy other forms of exercise as well.  Some people are just ready to pounce on you and drag you to the gym with them if you even mentioned the slightest interest in something active.  If I say that I like to jump on my trampoline, people assume I want to go to the gym with them even though the trampoline is completely different from gym equipment.

But beyond that initial assumption is the fact that people don't accept no as an answer. In college, I started to really miss jumping on the trampoline at home, so I thought I'd go to the gym just to try it. I felt really out of place because everyone was so hardcore about working out.  I didn't see a single person who looked like they were just there to have fun. I didn't see anyone who just showed up in what they were already wearing, like I did. When I mentioned that I had tried the gym to see if I liked it, I realized that I had made a huge mistake. Everyone wanted me to be their gym buddy.  And I told them no. I explained that I might go to the gym when I felt like it, but I didn't want any pressure to go consistently.  I said this over and over again but people wouldn't stop pressuring me to be their gym buddies until I quit going to the gym altogether.

Not my idea of fun
I love swimming.  My mom and I used to swim laps together at our city pool and talk. I wore my bikini and she wore her lap suit. There were all different people in the pool - parents with children, kids playing Marco Polo - it was an environment where any level of swimming was acceptable.  I thought it might be fun to try swimming in our campus pool, but I was in for a surprise.  The pool at our gym was for people who were athletic and really good at swimming.  I wasted my money on a one-piece swimsuit that I'll never wear again, that I only bought so I could look like the other girls. Whenever I talked about this issue, everyone told me that I could practice swimming and get better at it.  But you know what? I don't want to get better!  I don't believe that anything worth doing has to be worth doing well.  I have a few things that I actually care about, and everything else is just for fun.  Everything else, I'm not interested in working on or getting better at.  I didn't want to be a better swimmer - I wanted it to be perfectly acceptable to swim the way I do in the pool that I PAID to use!

I'm not sure why the word "fun" is so incomprehensible, why even after you tell people that you love to catch up with friends while you're walking, or perform a dance of your own creation on stage, or jump as high as you can and feel like you're flying, someone always brings the subject back to how many calories you're burning.  It's okay if we have different reasons for doing the same thing, but please don't pressure me to exercise.  As I have said before, I'm just here to have fun.

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