Today I’m tackling exercise in the pandemic. Because what do we all love? That’s right, being really out of breath, and sore, and going a weird colour, and feeling loads like our lungs are about to explode. But, we’ve all seen the stats: yes all of those stats, the ones on the Guardian Website… the ones that make you feel really bad about just quite how unfit we’ve all got.
Scene: The camera slowly pans around your East London flat, it skims past the mounting “dirty-plate-jenga-sitch” you’ve got going on- to you: you are lying on a bed, staring at the walls, legs becoming slowly atrophied, worrying that you’ll become one with your bed, and make a kind of weird half-bed-half-person homunculus.
Oh, how hard it will be to walk into a job interview (or realistically “the pub”) when you are part man, part bed. You shall have to be wheeled in by a friend on one of those things for moving pallets (you know the ones… I’ve seen them on the telly… they look fun… never used one cause I’ve never done a hard day’s work in me life), because you’re a bed now aren’t you? You naughty little homunculus.
Let’s circle back, to the before times, before you became a bed-man. Those halcyon days, where you would frolic through fields, filled with a sense of fitness, of litheness, of joie de vivre. You weren’t a bed then. No, you were but a regular Joe, free from the confines of mattress fused to skin. You were a fit(ish), young(ish), mid-millennial (no “ish” needed there, you’ve just come to terms with it). With a bit of work, you reckoned, you could run a 5K in about 35 minutes, and only need to use an asthma pump, like, 4 times during. Then… the “these unprecedented times” struck, the big scary spiky blob. And we were thrust, kicking and screaming into our bedrooms. Once the initial terror wore off you thought- “NO, ok, listen up, look here, 1, 2 ,3 eyes on me… I’m going to use this time to get fit.” (Hold for applause).
Proper fit. Not like you were before. But a golden deity. One of the sexy ones. A Norse or mayhaps a Roman one. Perhaps one of the ones off the Avengers? I think that’s a thing, never seen it. You couldn’t decide which, but you were definitely going to be one (maybe a Roman one because you had pretentious parents who made you learn some Latin, cause it’ll “make it easier to learn languages”. Well jokes on your MUM. Because you can order a beer in German, a wine in French, and swear in Hugarian, but that’s the lot). All the people would swoon, and kids would ask for your autograph, and birds would rest on your big strong arms, and sing. How they would sing.
Exercise isn’t a walk in the park for Ben.
Then, you realised running was hard. But sitting. Delicious sitting, that was very easy. You’d look at Joe Wicks, the beautiful man, with his long hair, and his lovely face, and his lovely arms. And actually find yourself quite angry at him, because he’s a bit smug really, isn’t he? And that Sophie Ellis-Bextor is doing her dancing again, which you used to enjoy… but now… well now it feels like a chore.
You’d trudge round the park, claiming to your housemate that you’re going for a run, but actually just walking and sitting, cause sitting is delicious. You look at all the beautiful deities all sprinting, with their lovely long hair, and tattoos. “I’ve got tattoos too” you think. So at least you have that going for you. Then you get home, and your housemate with their lovely arms says “wow you were gone for a while, nice run?”. You look directly in their eyes and speak thusly: “yes actually, it was a lovely run thank you madam. Can’t you see how red I am?” (for you’d slapped your face a few times to make it look really red). But they know. Oh boy do they know.
“It’ll help your mental health” say all the people on the telly, and your friend who runs 10K three times a week. You know that’s true. Deep down you do know, because you’re actually really sad tbh. Also you can feel yourself getting less and less fit with each passing day, you dumb bed-boy. So yes, you run. You do. A bit. And then you don’t. And then you do. And then you don’t. Ad Nauseam etc.
Then you try yoga. Even though your teacher is amazing, and your bones feel all warm after… you’re not getting better at it, and you’re a prideful little fool. So that’s out the window. Your extremely hot pal even gives you a workout routine, and he has very big arms. Whilst the term “bird dog” amuses you for a hot second, his workout is too hard because, turns out, you have no muscles in your back so your whole spine just turns to soggy, hot jelly. But slowly, so slowly, you do feel the bed tendrils untether themselves from you. And you do feel a bit better.
The satisfaction of exercising.
You know full well that there’s a crisis in global fitness. You know the obesity problem is getting out of hand. But, as all those running idiots say it’s just “one foot in front of the other” at the end of the day. So, off you go and try your best. For you are a beautiful deity, with lovely hair, and face, and arms. Side-note you found putting “got those covid-curves” on your Grindr profile is actually quite helpful to upping your self esteem, they all think it’s well funny.
Look… listen… live… end of the day, when all’s said and done, it’s not about what you look like, is it? Come on now, we all know that. I bet even JW (Joe Wicks) has his off days. It’s about how you feel or something I guess. Plus, even if you do end up as a bedman (pronounced henceforth as bed-mun), at least I’ll still love you swit ‘art. C’est Fini. See you do know some French, you gorgeous nerd.
Should you wish to be less rubbish, here’s some things to check out:
The Couch to 5K app. Actually really helpful, got me going for a bit. Keep it up stunner, you can do it!
Joe Wicks’ Youtube Channel. One for the kids, AND one for the grownups. Very hot face, and really not all that smug.
Sally Shala Yoga. Daily Zoom classes, very affordable. I’d never tried yoga before, and Sally helped me through. Just try not to be a wet lettuce about it like me.
Class Pass. Loads of resources, all under one roof (metaphorical roof. It’s actually on your phone).
The NHS 10 minute workout. For when you have little time, and love free healthcare.