The War on Cardio
I have an issue.
Almost a year a go I decided to sign up for a Boot Camp. It was a desperate act, one spurred by my sister’s upcoming wedding in which I would be a bridesmaid. There were other reasons too such as wanting to kickstart a fitness regimen that would allow me to begin my quest to fit into that awesome dress from that very brief period in my life I was a size 10…glorious times indeed…
It sort of worked. I did lose a bit of a weight. The rush of surviving an hour of putting my body through a gauntlet of horrible routines made me feel like I had Accomplished Something. But despite this I learned that the boot camp life was not for me. Working out until I felt like throwing up did not appeal to me in the long run. The lack of sarcastic joking in the room ripped me of my only coping mechanism. So at the end of the four weeks, I decided to leave it. It’s not that boot camp was a bad thing. It’s that it was not my thing.
But I was still on the mailing list…this is where my other reason for leaving comes in.
The instructor for this particular boot camp is one of those hardcore fitness instructors who shudders at the very thought of any sort of sugar touching his tongue and probably works out about seven times a day. Again…not a bad thing…
But there’s a certain language in his emails that I just could not get behind. It was the shaming tone they tended to take on, condemning all those who weakened and ate chips during their summer vacations or telling horror stories of people who were fattie fattie fat fats and how awful a fate that was until they found the saviour that is boot camp. No subject though gets as much bitterness as that of cardio.
Over the past few months I have received about five or six emails from the same boot camp condemning all those who choose cardio as their exercise. There’s even a “4 reasons why cardio is awful for you” list that goes on and on about just what cardio will do to you. It will age you. It’s hard on your joints. It will MAKE YOU FATTER! HORRORS!
And well…yes. I get what he means. If you want to lose weight, just doing cardio isn’t going to do it.
But does that mean it’s bad for you?
These emails aren’t the only mention I’ve seen of the cardio hatred that seems to have sprung up in the last little while. I’m not sure when it started. I know that it’s beginning to annoy me. The way these fitness hardcores talk about it, they might as well be drinking poison when the attempt cardio. It’s a fate worse than death to jog! A life sentence for skipping rope! A cardinal sin to row!
For a while I was starting to listen to them. I shouldn’t go out and jog. My legs will fall off. My arms will atrophie from lack of exercise. IT WON’T DO ANYTHING ANYWAY!
Then it dawned on me that it was rather ridiculous to condemn anyone for attempting exercise of any sort. So what if someone wanted to do cardio? Regardless of weight loss, it’s still exercise. Last time I checked most exercises generally encouraged good health.
So I jogged. Slowly at first, huffing and puffing and hoping that I manage to hit a red light so that I could stop for a few blessed seconds. Then a bit more smoothly, learning to pace myself and at times go into a “flow” or meditative state but still managing to give the “joggers nod” to other runners on the path.
My anxiety is down thanks to my brain being forced to simply focus on my breath and not dying. I have more energy. Stairs are now just horribly difficult instead of agonizingly awful. Best of all, tonight I managed to do 5km in 28 minutes. Even though that’s not a Sonic the Hedgehog speed, it’s still a personal best.
I have gotten to the point where it feels good to jog. My body feels odd if I go too long without it. Am I losing weight? Not really, no. But feeling more healthy doesn’t seem to make that matter anymore. I am at least 50% trained to be the Doctor’s companion.
To shame anyone who decides to exercise because it’s not the “right” exercise…I’m sorry but that’s just dumb. Alas that seems to be where we are now.
So I’ve stopped reading those email and facebook posts now. In my experience, it actually seems to stop people from trying to be active. If you exercise, it should be something you are comfortable with. Run, walk, jump, swim, hike, dance lift weights, do frigging boot camp, whatever. Just don’t let anyone tell you that anything that gets your body moving is wrong.
Just don’t use my jogging photos as inspiration. That might actually deter you.