As the summertime comes, we get outdoors to work out more. And don’t we love the feeling of moving and exerting ourselves? Nothing could be more natural, or more important as we idly while away entire lifetimes sitting in front of electronics.
But let’s admit it, exercise conjures odd behaviors. I remember on Cape Cod, riding my dated ten-speed on the lovely Cape bike paths, dressed in cut-offs. As I greeted other professional-looking riders in matching Lycra shorts and jerseys emblazoned with sponsor logos, riding bikes rivaling my Jeep in cost, I’d smile and say hi. But they would never answer. After all, they were serious riders, and I was some schmoe, out getting exercise. I detected a proud self-righteousness.
Cecile and I like to skate at the free ice rink in Manhattan’s Bryant Park in winter. It is always chock full of people. Last time we were there we saw this aged fellow dressed in full Olympic Lake Placid workout gear and racing skates, dating from 1980, and skating so seriously and deliberately as though he might compete in 2018. He just expected everyone to get out of his way, many of them, first-time skaters. After all, he was a serious skater, and this workout of his was serious.
I accept looking ridiculous working elliptical machines or Rollerblading the side streets. But can we skip the ridiculous posturing and one-upsmanship of looking down on the less skilled, the less muscled, or the less work-out savvy, please?
We have all heard of “works righteousness”, thinking we are better than others. But what about “work-out righteousness”? I am sometimes tempted at the YMCA, as we’re buried in our routines, bodies and physicality, taking ourselves so very seriously, to stand and say, “Excuse me, does everyone her realize that we are going to die someday?” The exercise machines are not a pathway to immortality.
Having said that, get outside, feel the sunshine, revel in the thigh burn as you push yourself to new limits. It feels heavenly, even if our redemption is otherwise.