Always Be Exercising

I just came from my morning run. Today, again, it was a walk, because I had a lot of things that I was thinking about, and it is impossible run and think at the same time.

I’m in the midst of sorting out two very different articles for two different publications. I figured out my angles yesterday, and today I’m moving around the blocks of information in my head to create the story. I’m in a good mood, because I know where I’m going.

Along the way, I half-listened to Slate’s culture podcast. I waved at the 80-year old Martha and Bill Finch’s grandmother who take their walks every morning, chatting the whole way about grandkids and their husbands’ gout. They will go back to Florida, when the snow falls and whenever the state gets power again. I stopped to chat with the three-year old twins who proudly showed me their pink name tags that they got at nursery school. Seven bold deer on the appropriately named Deerhill Road tried to stare me down, and the wild turkeys awkwardly squatted in front of a pretentious house with French doors.

I’m pretty lucky. I know that I am. Once I figured out that being a freelancer who works from home meant that you really had to exercise every day to keep your marbles — and alright, I’m an idiot. I only figured that out last April — I’ve been either doing a morning spin class, running, or walking for an hour about six days a week. I have the time and this idealic neighborhood to run around in. I belong to one of those $20 per month gyms – nothing fancy – but it’s clean and the classes are free. The spin classes are packed with cool women. I don’t actually know their names, but I know how many kids they have, what grades the kids are in, and where they went on vacation last month. On days, when it’s just me and the computer all day, it’s a good thing to interact with real people.

In the past few years, I’ve spent more on sneakers and tights and all. But it all gets used a lot and keeps my knees in working shape.

I did four 5K races this summer.

But by some people’s standards, I’m a slacker. It’s not unusual to meet women at the gym or jogging along the path by the river who exercise for five hours a day. They have long sinewy arms and sunken eyes. Driving to Ian’s high school last week, which is adjacent to the richest zip code in New Jersey, we passed dozens of high-end gyms that boasted high intensity spin classes where the instructors yell at you until you pass out. I see a lot of eating disorders among middle-aged women at these gyms.

We were talking about wealthy people in the last thread. Gotta add exercise to one of the characteristics of the super wealthy. But I suppose that isn’t new. From Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities:

The phase pops into his head at that very instant: social X-rays … They keep themselves so thin, they look like X-ray pictures … You can see lamplight through their bones … while they’re chattering about interiors and landscape gardening … and encasing their scrawny shanks in metallic Lycra tubular tights for their Sports Training classes.



12 thoughts on “Always Be Exercising

  1. Women who exercise too much will never have the ideal female body type, as exemplified by the kinds of pornography that Senator Cruz likes on Twitter.


    1. Cruz is blaming “a staffing issue”, but he’s deeply committed to giving me something to laugh about today. Also, the Washington Post has reassured its readers that the younger woman wasn’t actually the stepdaughter of the older one.


  2. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to look a social X-ray, just as I don’t understand why anyone would want to look a bodybuilder (i.e., of the Arnold Schwarzenegger variety). It isn’t attractive to the opposite sex (or sexually attractive to the same sex, for that matter), which has been my only purpose in life since I was 16.


    1. My number 2 has been doing a lot of body building (less extreme than Ahnuld, but, effects are definitely noticeable) and he has moved into ‘chick magnet’ territory. So, works for him.


  3. I wonder if a fair amount of the body modification is for pictures, rather than for real life. Botox, super-skinny older bodies, plastic surgery, . . .

    And, there’s those who want to look like they did when they were younger, including the super skinny bodies some women have when they are young.

    I went to dinner with a group of 8 women recently, and felt like I was the only one who was eating. I think I wasn’t, but I was the only one who ordered an extra piece of cake.

    But, some amount of buffness, in both men and women is probably attractive to those you wish to attract.


  4. Every once in a while, I look at my aging body and think that it would be nice to be skinny again. But then I realize that it would take a LOT of work and that I like my wine, so I’ve decided to be happy with relatively fit. Basically then, I am way too lazy to have the discipline it takes to be a social x-ray.


    1. I’ve decided to be ok with weighing about 5 lbs more than I did in my late 20s. Part of me feels like I should get back to “my weight,” but yeah, it’s really not worth restricting what I eat to lose weight I don’t need to lose.


  5. If I ever feel jealousy for celebrities or wealthy socialites, I think about how they are all borderline anorexic, and no money can assuage the prison of chronic mild food deprivation/exercise-induced misery they live in. I remember about 10 years ago some A list actress gushing about “free” she felt eating cheese while pregnant, and that she’d forgotten what it had tasted like. No thanks.


  6. Some of the avid exercisers develop dowager’s humps quite early in life. Kyphosis is apparently a risk with anorexia.

    Then again, the surgery, all the procedures, etc. At a certain point, women who follow these customs look old, even if they aren’t all that old. But I think if you spend much of your time with people who’ve had plastic surgery, it looks normal to you.


    1. Right. I think that there are probably a few discreet procedures you can get done in your 50s or so that might make you look a bit younger. The problem is people see a little does a lot, so they assume a lot does even more, when it’s actually the reverse. You also see very young celebrities (mid 20s) getting stuff done, so instead of looking 20s they look like a 45 year old trying to look 20. That and probably the stress of repeated manipulation to the face causes premature aging. My hunch is that daily heavy makeup-wear similarly ages your skin. And tanning and smoking of course are known skin killers. (My guess is there’s a ton of hidden smoking in socialite crowds because cigarettes are mild stimulants and appetite suppressants. Maybe I’m wrong and everyone’s just doing coke, but I would guess a routine coke habit is bad for the skin too.)


      1. My skin looks great because of the healthy glow you get from alcohol bringing the blood vessels close to the surface.


  7. Five hours a day?

    That’s wack. No thanks.

    I’d like to be running daily though, instead of twice a week. Commuting and laziness get in the way.


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