olivia newton john


Contrary to the words of Olivia Newton John (click to watch the 80s song) I do not want to get physical.  I hate the gym.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably know by now what a Herculean effort it is for me to go to the gym.  I detest it, abhor it and despise it.  The thought of getting up from my desk after a hard day’s work and running on a rubber belt for 45 minutes, makes my entrails cringe.  I cannot stand the flat screen TV showing a ball game, I hate seeing the remnants of the dried up sweat beads on the machines and I supremely hate the big, muscly guys making primitive gruntal sounds while lifting some “not humanly possible to lift” weights.

It is not that I am a couch potato (well, does eating cake on the couch count?)  If it doesn’t then I am not a couch potato.  I love to walk.  In fact, I was born and raised in a small hill station where the only way one could get from point A to point B was via walking.  My parents did not own a car and I walked everywhere, never giving second thought to it.  It felt as natural as eating cake! (Yes, I confess, I do love cake!)

Now, walking has become an alien activity for me.  I feel self-conscious and odd walking on the wide streets with heavy traffic zipping by on both sides.  The geographical location of my abode deters walking.  In Los Angeles no one walks.  Everyone owns a self-contained gigantic, gas guzzling contraption on four wheels fitted with all the latest gadgets.  It is called an SUV.  It is like being in control of one of the NASA space ships, only on the concrete roads.

In cities such as mine a walker is an oddity.  They are uncommon.  They are akin to seeing a cow roaming in the streets of Manhattan.  The drivers peer from inside their metal contraptions with quizzical expression as to how instead of the four wheels, the two legs are being used.

When we are not steering our road- ships, most of us sit, sit and sit behind our desks in our day jobs.  Yes, the Health and Fitness magazines do profess that walking from the parking lot to the office or taking the stairs does count as exercise.  However, in my opinion, unless the parking lot is a mile away your office and you climb multiple floors to reach your office; such minimal level of exercise does not count!  So, the inference is basically we are leading stationary and sedentary lives.

I find going to the gym unnatural and anomalous.  I question the activities performed in the gym.  Were our bodies designed to do 15 sets of reps with dumbbells, at least three times?  Are our bodies hard-wired to climb up and down, again and again and yet again on a fake plastic step with arms wildly flaying in the air like lunatics?  Was the human body conceived with the vision that four days a week, for at least forty-five minutes we would walk mindlessly on a rotating rubber belt?

Therefore, I consider exercise as plastic, inorganic and compensatory.  It is similar to taking a vitamin pill in lieu of real, healthy food.  It is similar to drinking Red Bull for a quick energy boost rather than eating a balanced meal.  It does not have the same effect.

In European countries and even cities such as New York and San Francisco, people walk.  Exercise is incorporated in the daily routine, without putting it on the “to do” list, thereby making it a chore along with a million other burdensome chores to be done.  People in such places are healthier and it is a form of social interaction as well.  Walkers interact with other pedestrians forging friendships and bonds.

I absolutely understand the value of exercise and how important it is for our well-being.  But, the gym truly is an exercise deterrent for me.

What is my answer?  None, for the time being, except continue with the unnatural thumping at the gym or walk amongst the road-ships.  I will continue my quest to derive new ways to “get motivated.”

In the words of my friend and the very fit fellow blogger Tanvii, maybe loving your wardrobe is sufficient motivation to stay fit and hit the gym!

  • THANK YOU for the mention!!! and I know how you feel. I REALLY do! Till the age of 23 I despised the thought of exercise. Though like yourself. I love walking. Have always loved it. But like anything else, when you see the benefits you learn to put in the effort. Regarding whether our bodies were made to do this or not … I think the level of activities say people from 2 generations before us did, we do not even do half of it. Pulling water from the well (strength training?), Crushing wheat and other grains (Cardio?), Farming (Interval training?), Cobbler, Carpenter, etc. I think all these professions which are soon getting replaced by machines were movements enough to keep obesity at a distance. Also, the food and our eating habits have evolved so much over the years. How many people partied? Ate cheese? And Fondue etc! Not many I am sure. So food + lack of activity requires us to move our butts elsewhere.

    I do not think one has to go to the gym to stay fit. I love dancing. When I cannot workout. I dance. (Like right now) I am in India and I have no access to gym so I dance in my room or go for morning walk with my parents and do much lunges and squats at the park. Fitness has become a passion of sorts over the years and I now do it primarily for good health (hate taking meds) and my clothes! :)

    Really SORRY, I didn’t mean to write an essay in your comment box. I think I got carried away :P

  • AHHH, the dreadful GYM! I used to have many memberships thru many of my jobs and I never used them. My oldest daughter and her friends were the ones that used it.
    I do love walking on our many parks and doing basic yoga positions to keep myself flexible.
    I have two sets of small weights and a yoga mat that I use to exercise while watching Masterpiece Theater, The History Channel and or Music Choice Classic Rock. I need to do some sort of physical activity (walking, dancing, standing at the grocery store, etc) at least 4 times a week because since my mid 40′s my knees had given me some trouble.

  • Ok.. I am addicted to my gym. Call me a gym whore! hahaha
    Don’t laugh… its my only addiction (well.. after burning the wine calories J and I have sometimes)
    lee x

  • I hate gyms as well. I actually have a slight fear of overly muscular grunting men at gyms, lol. But there are so many other ways to get in shape. Walking is great, and I definitely do my fair share of walking around London. And I know I’m not the only one! It’s probably better for our health to go out and get fresh air, rather than run in a congested room, filled with others sweat.

  • I totally agree! My main form of exercise would be stair climbing and walks to the post office/the courthouse/the doctor’s office in my little town. The exercise is good for a body, not to mention the things one notices when they are on foot.

  • Ok I am not a gym person, I hate it. Exercise and sports are really not my scene. I hate sweating! I do however enjoy yoga DVDs that I can do at my own pace. Ps-I love your writer Ambuji – you go deep!


  • That is the biggest deterrent I have for moving. I LOVE NY because I walk everywhere and am stunned that people think 10 block is a lot of walking.

    I have to admit, I do like the gym. I do like to run. I really enjoy boot camp workouts b/c I like challenging myself and I love bikram yoga for the same reason. I kind of get a thrill in conquering really hard physical challenges. There has to be a way to incorporate walking in LA, I have no solution either, friend but I hope you find one and I’ll keep my eye out for article that relate to this for you.

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