Tag Archives: yoga

Exercise

I’ve been really busy lately. The only things I do are work, meet people, and exercise.

My problem with most exercise is it’s boring. Going to the gym like a normal person is the worst- setting up the weights, doing them, waiting for machines, whatever, everything takes forever and the only way I get through it is through elaborate fantasies usually ending in someone’s death, or I’m a secret agent repeatedly clinging to the edge of a cliff or on the wing of an airplane and need to haul myself up so I for once legitimately need to do a pullup (I guess I’ve always ended up falling to my death, although I don’t think about that part), or rescuing a princess from some savage alien culture where you have to behead her father before you get to mate with her (Ok, the fantasies all involve death).

Crossfit, though boring (I hate clamping weights or counting), is at least extremely time efficient. I sometimes enjoy the workouts if they don’t involve too much weight setup (yes, I’m too lazy to set up my weights to do my exercises) or counting. Sometimes I’ll compete with someone and fantasize about having hidden all our food and needing to defeat them in the hunger games. Part of the allure of crossfit is that everyone is so ripped, so usually in my fantasies I defeat them by being faster and befriending genetically engineered beasts.

Despite feeling good after exercising, doing it can be so annoying and boring that it can be hard to stick with it. Right now the main thing I’ve been doing consistently is yoga. One reason I like yoga is that I’m good at it because I’m flexible, but it’s still challenging (I inwardly third eye snicker when the men can’t do the poses). It’s not the most efficient use of time for pure exercise but it also has a meditative component where afterwards I feel full of love. I very rarely fantasize during yoga except during some prolonged annoying poses like horse. I also get a weird pleasure from hearing yoga instructors talk about massaging your intestines and thyroid- “That uncomfortable choking sensation is so good for you!” Another reason for yoga is the nice showers (In contrast, Brazilian jiu jitsu showers are the most disgusting places I’ve ever seen).

The thing about physical activity, even sports that are really fun, or cool skills like martial arts, is that at some point in the game you basically have to just do 1000 pushups to improve, and this gets really boring. This doesn’t happen as much in the more cerebral games/skills where even if you’re practicing something as boring as typing faster you’re still generally getting a high level of mental stimulation in return. If you can’t stand doing the boring stuff and only do the fun stuff, you’ll probably never improve beyond a certain level in your sport. This is my excuse for sucking at almost all sports.

Being on a team makes boredom much more palatable. Thinking back on the years of fencing, when my thighs were so big I couldn’t wear normal jeans, I’m amazed by what people endure for the sake of the team. I am super, super lazy and yet I would wake up before dawn for those bus rides to meets. I don’t think I fantasized about murder even once during all those hours of drills!

I miss it. I miss being on a team and everyone working out together, drawn together with an irrational school pride, clawing for victory as the underdogs against the division 1 teams that recruited foreign professional fencers, mercilessly whooping the club teams that couldn’t afford nice equipment by competing with each other for how few touches we’d have scored against us, having weird rivalries with the teams that were comparable and employing complex psychological strategies.

I fenced a little after MIT but couldn’t find the motivation to do it without a team around me or a coach I really loved and knew. Our coach Jarek, who’s celebrating his 20th anniversary at MIT, was a professional sabre fencer and I still think of Jarek as my coach even though it’s been 5 years since I’ve been on the team. One thing that’s not obvious about Jarek until you get to know him more, is that he’s better than you at every sport, not just fencing. This is because he’s European- in America, anyone with actual athletic talent is not going to become a fencer.

I want to do a team sport again! The problem is I suck at sports so much it’d be really sad for anyone on my team. So I’m going to make myself really strong and when I come back I’ll surprise everyone by suddenly being not completely pathetic! That’s the meta-fantasy whenever I’m working out and fantasizing about death. In the meantime, ignore my frailty and choose me for your apocalypse survival team because of my creativity and resourcefulness, etc.