Ready, set, slow

Pleasure is the new fitness, right? Tanya Meeson hopes so
Woman&Home, November 2022

Although I’m a fan of New Year’s Lists, one thing you’ll never find on mine is ‘get fitter’. That’s because I know my limitations and, if life has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t have the strength of mind necessary to commit to a fitness regime. Notice I didn’t say ‘undertake’. Undertake to commit to start a fitness regime I can certainly do and, my God, have I undertaken many.

Let me see. There was the great gym expeditions of 1999, 2003, 2009, 2019 and then 2021, each of which lasted between one month and three years, and even the latter, if I’m honest, just became about sitting in the sauna and bake-sweating for hours. Then, there was tennis and there was running. Once there was boxing training, capoeira for adults, rock climbing, hip-hop, swimming lengths…

So many starts. But to see it through as an actual lifestyle inclusion? Not so much. Even yoga, which I love, is only a long-term love affair if I have a class to go to.

Once, in a bid to fool myself, I added ‘get stronger’ to my List. But then, because I wasn’t clear with the universe, I first had to go through extreme back, glute and hip pain before I and my bank account were gently led by three physios and a Pilates instructor to understand what ‘strength’ is and that it requires a core – and also that I had no core.

Has this inspired me to commit to a weekly workout routine? Nope.

‘No pain, no pain’ is my motto

I don’t know if this laissez-faire policy towards dedicated fitness is a ‘forever’ status quo. I hope not. I have visions of one day waking up intrinsically inspired to ‘just do it’ etcetera. But right now and, say, for the past thirty-odd years of being cognizant of fitness-as-a-lifestyle, I simply lack the psychic energy needed to drive this kind of lifetime agenda. And maybe that’s where my problem lies. I’m just too damn self-aware. Whenever I think of what it takes to get a six-pack, my first question is: Is this a regime I can maintain until I’m 80? If not, what’s the point? (I know this is the fitness version of the ‘I’m too intelligent for therapy’ line, but it’s what I’ve got.)

Look, it’s not that I don’t move. I walk a lot, there’s lots of dancing and stretching and swimming aboutish, I garden, play with my dog, and often even go to Pilates, and I’m very certain that soon I’ll start playing tennis again and go back to yoga. It’s just that I prioritise differently.

I think when I crossed over from thinking of fitness as something that might make me look better to something that might make me feel better, I kinda settled on the level of fitnessing I was at: the level that prioritises pleasure. ‘No pain, no pain’ is my motto and, I have to say, I feel like this philosophy is catching on.

Recent findings from longitudinal health and wellness studies show that a life moderate in food and exercise and high in love and sleep does wonders for the general longevity of the human animal. And isn’t that what all this fitness malarkey is really about? Aging well?

Which brings me to Betty Dodson. Betty was an iconic sexologist who rose to fame in the 1960s and became known as the ‘godmother of masturbation’. Betty looked about 65 when she was 85, and died when she was 91, and in a 2014 Guardian interview credited her youthfulness to ‘masturbation, pot and raw garlic’.

After reading that, I made my own list: regular orgasms, sleep, water, massages, being able to touch my toes, no smoking, very little drinking, lots of howling, laughing, and regular ocean dips…

And, wouldn’t you guess, still no fitness regime.

I know my ‘can I do this until I’m 80’ benchmark is flawed. I know one commits to a fit lifestyle to get one to 80 and all that. I know this. But to do it?

Maybe I’ll undertake again to commit to maybe putting it on my 2023 list. I’ve got some months to prepare emotionally. Until then, anyone up for a gentle stroll around the block?

Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash

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