From the Blog

Internet, Tell Me What To Do

So, I hate sweating. Sweating, as in the moisture one creates while exerting oneself. On those extra warm days we had in the summer, I hesitated to go out because, you know, it was WARM. And SUNNY. And the possibility of breaking a sweat grossed me out. No thank you, beautiful summer day. I’m going to stay indoors and remain completely immobile and moisture-free.

This was part of the reason why I moved to Portland. I like to live in environments where forest slugs can grow to the circumference of my wrist. During the summer, I did get out of the house on cooler days, walking in our neighborhood, taking the boys to the park, stopping by the grocery store, etc. Going for walks was one of the few, meager, paltry ways I’d get any exercise. Unless you count hefting the boys around the house and throwing out my back.

Exercise. That’s where I’m going with this. I’m not into it. I think exercise sucks. I like going to walks. I (usually) like going for hikes. I like doing things that are active, but are tangentially exercise. If you say to me, “Hey, let’s go do something fun that requires movement,” I’ll be into it. But if you say “Hey, let’s go exercise!” I’d reply “Fuck you, jerkface.”

Deliberate exercise just bugs me. There’s no way it’s not a total chore. I have joined gyms in the past, and I fought epic battles with myself to schlep my ass into those places. Oh, the elaborate reasons not to go. Comfy couch. Interesting TV. Hard day at work. I didn’t sleep well.┬áMy arm itches.

Right? But here’s the thing: I was overjoyed after working out. It was the best thing ever. I felt like a million bucks. I’d be so psyched that I pushed myself to go. I felt victorious and righteous and insufferable. Until the next day, when it was time to go to the gym again. Christ, again? Really?

Though I’ve joined gyms in the past, I’m not a gym aficionado. I creep around the outside of the room, and spy an open cardio machine. Then I’d get on, usually a bike, and zone out for half an hour. And I would sweat. I would sweat, sweat, sweat. And I’d turn bright red, as though my face would explode. I got gritty salt deposits in my eyebrows. Sexy, no?

But sitting on a bike in a gym is actually one of the few times where I was cool with sweating. I wore appropriate clothes. I knew I’d shower the instant I got home. I didn’t mind that I’d pedal, pedal, pedal and every part of me would be soaked. My scalp would sweat. The goddamn back of my knees would sweat.

I never had an agenda or a routine. Just half an hour to forty five minutes on a cardio machine. It was cool if I lost weight. But really, I just didn’t want to be embarrassed to huff and puff up a flight of stairs. I never used any of the other weight machines. I was intimidated and felt like a goof ball. And I didn’t want to have to think too hard.

So. Internet. This is where I am. Winter is upon us, and it’s harder now to get out for walks. The tiny amount of exercise I was getting has now almost disappeared. I can’t sit on my ass for the next six months. I have to do something. I have to fucking exercise. Gah.

I checked out a couple gyms near our house. One, a huge corporate chain. Another, a small new franchise I could walk to. The huge corporate chain is exactly what you’d expect. Dozens of cardio machines and treadmills. Dozens of weight machines. Fitness classes. A pool, even. I do like to swim, not that I know actual strokes. I told the gymdude I’d probably mostly use the cardio machines, and he tried to dissuade me. He said the real results for women come from using the weight machines, and they’d be happy to show them all to me for an extra $300.

The smaller gym near our house was probably 20% of the size. They had all the cardio stuff, then a few big contraptions with cables and pulleys. I guess those machines convert into different things, so you can work our all your various parts in one place. They looked impossibly confounding. But I’d be willing to look them up and see if I could figure them out. The tiny gym had one person in there working out while I was there.

So I’m thinking about all this. But wait, there’s also yoga, which I have tried a few times. I love the idea of yoga. I like the idea of getting good at it and maybe even practicing at home. I know many smart, thoughtful people who are really into yoga. I’d like to be like them!

But holy crap, I don’t know if there’s a class that is beginner enough for me. Like my history with gyms, I’ve also tried going to yoga a few times. Absolute beginner classes. I didn’t know you were supposed to take your socks off. And after those super beginner classes, where I still felt way over my head, I was sore in ways I have never been sore in my life. Muscles I never knew I had felt like poisonous green taffy. I was immovably sore for days after those super beginner yoga classes.

Great, right? I should have kept going. But those ultra beginner classes were introductory only. After that one class, I was released into the usual “beginner” yoga population. I tried one class. It was full of slim, glossy, lithe people. I felt like I sucked. I had to resort to child’s pose while everyone else was doing all their beginner yoga poses. Gah.

The other issue with trying to do yoga, is trying to coordinate childcare during class times. I have a childcare issue no matter what I decide to do. But I can probably get someone to come a couple times a week for an hour or two. And I can go on the weekend. That’s my plan, anyway. A couple hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a weekend day. I need some goddamned time to myself. For fuck’s sake.

What should I do? No seriously internet, what should I do? Big corporate gym with a pool and stuff? Little intimate gym walking distance to my house? Try to find super beginner yoga classes? Tune up my bike and ride in the rain? Don’t tell me to jog or run, because I have fallen arches and it takes about ten minutes for me to feel like my skeleton is breaking through the bottom of my feet.

I want to do something. Something that doesn’t suck. Something I’ll enjoy and stick to.

Internet, tell me what to do.


  1. Robert Wagner says

    I actually go to the “Big Corporate Gym” near you and like it quite a bit. I was pretty apprehensive about it at first, not being into things “big” and/or “corporate” and/or “gym” but it’s all been a great experience.


    Hell, I dunno…but it gets me out of the house, it’s reliable, it’s open all the damn time and it’s usually not crowded during those times when children are still sleeping (early AM) – that makes it pretty much perfect in my book.

    • Thanks Robert. That is a consideration…that the place will be mostly empty at the times I’ll likely be going. Also, to hugeness of it, I was thinking it might be easier to be anonymous there. Like a big city, rather than a small town.

  2. Heather, I LOVE Barre3 – there is a studio on SE Division and they have child care. It is a combination of yoga, pilates, and I guess ballet but I promise you won’t ever dance or do anything that resembles spinning on your toes in the class. It is a tough class and it’ll make your muscles shake – on purpose (but I kind of like that kind of stuff). =) The downside is it isn’t cheap – but they do have new client deals and online workouts if you want total anonymity.

    • Kristie, you bring up an excellent point. I have been thinking only of the gyms and yoga places within a very short distance of where we live. I do have a car, and I could totally go anyplace in SE. It would open up a lot of other options.

      Pricing is an issue, since we’re frugal. And exercise is just the kind of thing that irritates me to have to spend money on. If only I got my shit together, I could ride my bike or climb trees or whatever for free.

  3. OK! take a deep breath! here is my professional opinion…
    where ever you go, stick to the basics for the first few months, Cardio is grand but Gymdude is right, you need strength training as well. There should be a trainer at either gym that would be willing to show you basic machines and answer basic questions you may have. if you desire to know more hire a trainer! :D
    So, once you have been shown basic sit down machines, time to push some weight! Failure is Key here, you should be unable to push or pull by 8-15 reps. ( you will not get big and bulky, so do not be afraid of the weight!!) 4 sets of each machine making your first set a warm up.
    3 days a week is a good start, but as you get stronger your body will need more, so think about adding and extra day or 2 during the week, even if that is an extra yoga class or a hike. I would split your Tuesdays and Thursdays into Upper and Lower body days, with Yoga on Saturday if possible, with 30-45 mins cardio each of those days. make sure to mix up the cardio, your body is quick to adapt . (and if you are feeling totally out of place, talk to the instructor/trainer! that’s why they are there)

    i hope this answered a few of your questions and i didn’t ramble too much! :) contact me if need anything!

    • Thank you, Krysta! I was hoping to hear from you. I didn’t doubt what gymdude was saying, it’s just not what I wanted to hear. ;-) I would use the weights and the machines after getting over the initial awkward/stupid stage. Which I might never get out of.

      Ultimately, it would be smart if I hired someone or got help, to make sure I’m not wasting my effort. I don’t have a lot of time away from the babies, so I have to make sure whatever I do has a high impact.

  4. I also ought to mention that some areas of my person are completely frozen stiff with tension. Like my shoulders and neck. You could break bricks on my shoulders. Sometimes it’s hard for me to turn my head while driving. So that makes me think swimming or yoga. Or massage. Or drugs. Or any/all. I’m not picky.

    • hah, yep. stiff neck is never fun, i have to see a massage therapist on a monthly basis to keep up with the neck issues. i know its hard to get into, but try to stretch the neck as much as possible, a little research on some neck stretches would be very useful and maybe some bartering with Dave for massages ;)

      try the machine routine, write down every machine you use, the weight, reps and sets. feel free to keep me in the loop, send me your workouts and i can send you somethings back! i also have a few spreadsheets that i use for programming workouts i can send to you. let me know :)

  5. Rollerskate. Its the most efficient way to exercise. Long strokes of the legs builds long lean muscle, you engage your core and back muscles the whole time, cardio, and jamming out to a dj (or headphones if you prefer), everyone is willing to teach you how and/or tricks.

  6. I used to hate weight lifting and loved cardio, then it switched. After the decision of what gym/classes to join, the harder decision will be whether to go to the gym/class. This is a life change, a good one. When I was working out, I felt stronger, slept better, & had more energy. I miss being a gym person. Load new, fun songs onto your iphone, get good earphones (Bose!) and stick to it!

  7. Aunty Laurie says

    Krysta you are the Pro, and she will need you for phase II, but you just intimidated the Hell out of poor Heather! My Advise for you my, I Hate to Sweat Niece is, The Big Gym because they have a pool, and since they have a pool, they will also have Aqua Aerobics! These are wonderful classes designed for people like you that Don’t have alot of time and, your just getting into the world of, ok I have to give a fuck about my future health, because I have to be around a Long time for my boys!!! You have Exercise with Resistance, the water, which will be like working out with the weights. You work your butt off, and you Will be sore, BUT when you get sweaty you dunk your head under the water and Ta Daaa no more icky sweat!!! Hope this helped!

  8. I agree that weight work would be beneficial – but it’s not like you have to join a gym or even buy a gazillion weights in order to start. Can you start at home with some body weight exercises, perhaps? Get a yoga mat, fill a milk jug with sand or water, and carve out 20-30 min a day to do some basic body stretches and body weight exercises – things that benefit your core muscles, like planks or squats or wall pushups. (I have some suggested exercises that you can do in the privacy of your own home while the kids nap, even.)

    Then, look at joining a gym (I’ll pay you cash money if you go when Robert is there so you can mess with him some, hah!) Or take a yoga class or two on a drop-in basis. There’s a small studio that works with people of various body types/sizes in Sellwood – I can email you info about that as well.

    But start with something, then build on that.

  9. There’s a Zumba class out here that includes childcare! Once a week, in the morning. Hood River has EVERYTHING!

  10. Pilates is a great gateway drug for the exceptionally stiff, tight, and non-sweaty types. I hated yoga; don’t put a super bendy person in front of me and tell me to breathe when I feel the back of my legs rip off in a forward stretch – what do you know of my pain, you crazy flexible nut job!? But, with many (ok, can’t lie here, years) of Pilates under my belt I finally braved yoga again (also, not gonna lie here either, in a private setting, I’m not that masochistic) and after a few months I loved it. After telling my super bendy yoga instructor “I have to tell you I hate yoga, but lets give it a shot” I have never looked back. I’m happy she took on the challenge.

    Also, Pilates would teach you how to use your body and therefore the weight equipment properly, if you wanted to go that route.

    Just my thoughts…I’m not in the Portland area, but what I have experienced up there has been nothing but good instructors who know their stuff. Yoga, Pilates, etc. good luck!

  11. Check out 10 bucks a month…tons of online workouts from super basic to more intense. I found it after going to a physical therapist to strengthen my core/back after pregnancy. She recommended it and even leads some workouts. This with walking the twins and occasional classes at the community center is good for me.

  12. Get a dog. Not a puppy. Adopt an average active dog. Then you’re forced to take them for walks which you’ll very much enjoy. And you can find out what all your neighbors are up to. You can even walk the dog AND talk to a friend on the phone at the same time if you’re so inclined.

  13. There are yoga classes you can take online too! No worries about childcare – just duct tape em to the wall! But seriously, maybe a few online yoga classes can get you over the hump. You can do cardio at the gym until you’re ready for a yoga class.

  14. Here is another thought….wax-on, wax-off… I have some vehicles that will give you a good workout.

  15. I second Barre 3–but if you don’t want to deal with leaving the house effort (which I don’t, personally), they have online classes! I think $15 a month. Also I found a DVD bundle of their classes on either HSN or QVC, and the workouts range from 10-60 minutes. That was $35.

    I don’t know which Big Corporate Gym is nearest you, but if it’s a 24 Hour Fitness, see if they have the Les Mills classes–BodyPump (weight lifting), BodyFlow (combo of yoga/pilates/tai chi), BodyCombat (kickboxing). They’re all choreographed to music, and while they can be really hard especially if you’re just beginning, they’re fun. I did a yoga class once and was bored out of my mind! But I love BodyFlow, because you’re always moving and the music really helps.

  16. Excellent insight, all. Thank you. I hadn’t even thought about doing stretches or workouts at home. Now I’m sort of thinking about it. The guys nap from 7 am to 9 am (after waking up at 5:30 am every day.) I could work out then.

    I want to do some cardio, and I have a perfectly serviceable bike I never ride. I could get a burley trailer to put the boys in and ride my bike through the quiet streets of our neighborhood.

    This really is helping everyone, thank you! Big wet sloppy kisses to you!

  17. Lots of great suggestions here. There are lots of ways to get active and stay fit. I won’t offer specific ideas, but I would consider these general ideas:

    1) Try new activities. You never know if you’ll like it until you try.
    2) Only do what you like. If an exercise, workout program, gym or activity does not work for you or keep you interested, it will be harder to stick with.
    3) Make mobility a big focus. Many people treat it as an afterthought. When we’re old, the ability to move effectively has a huge bearing on quality of life. Yoga, pilates, dancing, gymnastics, stretching and many other bodyweight movement systems are extremely helpful.
    4) Fitness isn’t a destination, but a journey. Enjoy the process and be consistent. Make exercise a habit, like brushing your teeth… but more fun!

  18. Or, go for a ride on the Moscow subway. Price? 30 squats!

  19. I am with you on finding exercise that doesn’t feel like a chore. Another errand to schedule? AND pay money for? Feh. You have to do things you enjoy, or you’ll never stick to it. Things that are fun and part of life, rather than taking time away from it. Changing your mode of transportation is good, walking and biking when you can. Workout buddies could help a lot, someone in a similar position as yourself, like a mom with young kids. It’s motivation, it keeps you accountable, and you can have some social time. And if you have a class you want to take, she can watch the whole passel of kids and you can return the favor. Keep discovering anything and everything outdoors and (somewhat) active that you enjoy! ;)

  20. michael Lewallen says

    Yoga, take classes from someone and place you feel comfortable 2-3 times week. as you learn and progress you can try different styles. This will be the best thing you do for your self the rest of your life.

    I am a BIG exercise fan. ( i commute by bicycle 45 miles a day), have run, (killed my knees after 30 years), lifted and still do some weights. Belonged to the RAC since 87 (recently dropped it for various reasons… stay away). Swam in the masters program for years. I Do yoga daily.

    Start yoga, then add walking, jogging, cycling as you wish for cardio. Yoga done properly is all the weight training you need. If you want to, sure why not. After six six months yoga weight training will be unnecessary unless you want to be badass!

  21. I use for my yoga. Love it. They have all different levels and styles of yoga. $19. a month (which is the price of 1 yoga class.) Other than that, I have to say I love taking my dog for a long walks in the hills. That really chills me out.

Leave a Reply to Jim Cancel reply