Charlie's Blog: Fitness and Comfort


Fitness and Comfort

My philosophy is that you will do a thing more if you are comfortable doing it.

It's a rare thing when I quote myself. I only do it when no one else has said it. In the case of fitness, everyone knows the old adage. "No pain, no gain." I don't believe in this adage anymore. When I did, the pain resulted in no gain because I quit. I am not ashamed to admit that either. I think pain is the number one reason people do not pursue fitness or stick with it.

The idea that pain makes people quit is a no-brainer. The more subtle message is that you can get fit without the pain. I have this crazy idea that exercise should make you feel better not worse. Consequently, I take aim at running, lifting heavy weights, and CrossFit as things I don't ever care to do. My philosophy of exercise is to see it as physical therapy instead of masochism. You want to improve your body not punish it. Here are ways I have discovered to make exercise more comfortable.

1. Stop using heavy weights.

Men are vain, so they want to impress themselves and others with how much they can bench and squat. The problem comes when you acknowledge that muscles get bigger, but joints and connective tissues don't. In the long term, that heavy weight takes its toll. In the short term, it also takes its toll.

I prefer bodyweight exercises and the light resistance of a dumbbell or stretchy bands. The goal for me is to not cause injury but prevent an injury or rehab an injury. If exercise injures you, you are doing something wrong.

2. Choose the recumbent stationary bike.

I don't like treadmills because they are dangerous. I don't like stairclimbers, rowing machines, ellipticals, or anything else. When it comes to indoor cardio, my top choice is a recumbent stationary bike. It is essentially a chair with pedals. Once upon a time, I bought a standard exercise bike secondhand from a coworker, and I found out why he parted with it. That bike and others like it are essentially crotch hammers. I have always hated bicycles for this reason, and I have never found a saddle that could make cycling comfortable. The recumbent bike solves this problem. You also eliminate being hunched over the handlebars which leads to shoulder and neck pain and numb hands. You can keep that.

The recumbent bike allows you to watch the television or read a book or whatever. Like I said, it is a chair with pedals. Indoor exercise is inherently boring, so you want those distractions. I recommend the radio and podcasts.

3. Do your own chores.

Manual labor is exercise. I don't get why people will pay for a gym membership while also paying for lawncare and a maid. People want pain in their fitness while wanting total comfort in everything else in their lives. This is stupid. It makes no sense.

Pushing a lawnmower or a broom is excellent exercise. People look at me like I am crazy for using a reel mower for the yard, but they will go do HIIT sessions at the gym and pay for it. It boggles my mind. This one is on the same wavelength of idiocy as taking an elevator or an escalator to the gym to spend thirty minutes on a stairclimber.

Household chores are easy in comparison to a sufferfest at the gym. Plus, they are free and save you money. You also don't have to go anywhere.

4. Go for walks instead of running.

You don't have to run and tear up your knees to get in shape. Walking is fun, easy, and pleasurable. Running is none of these things. Walking also leaves you feeling great at the end. I never felt that way after a run. That's why I quit running so long ago. It wasn't a definitive decision so much as the accumulation of choosing to skip it. I quiet quit the running thing with the good intentions of going back. I don't do that with fitness walking.

5. Wear comfortable clothing and gear.

I wear old work clothes when I exercise. This is unique to me. Other people wear fitness apparel made from technical fabric to deal with a hot climate and sweat. I am just weird because I like having pockets and not feeling half naked. I hated having to wear shorts and tights to go running, so I was happy to wear normal clothes for walking. But if you feel comfortable in a Speedo, don't let me tell you different. You do you.

Comfort is a relative thing. We seek comfort in every other area of our lives. Why not seek comfort when it comes to getting in shape? Why does anyone have to suffer in their pursuit of fitness? Who made that a rule? As for chiseled fitness influencers, many of them were blessed with good genes and steroids. That might be a newsflash to the Gentle Reader. That's a topic for another time.

My motto now is "gain without pain." I have accomplished more with that motto than I did with "no pain, no gain." I do whatever I can now to make it comfortable.