Monday, March 30, 2009

Exercise. How I hate it.
And I think people that love it are very, very odd and probably need pychological help.

On the other hand, I do try to do it regularly. If I don't, I feel all kind of stiff and elderly. But it's not something I've ever done because I think it's fun. Fun is reading a book, writing in my blog, visiting a friend, playing a board game with the kids, planting a garden, making bread, etc. Frankly, I even like cleaning house better than exercising. Sadly, housecleaning, as strenuous as it may be , deosn't seem to count as "exercise". But at least you have a clean, nice-smelling house to show for it afterwards. For most people, the hour or so of moderate exercise they do each day to keep their heart healthy doesn't result an amazing physique (or a great smell, for that matter).
It boils down to this: exercise sucks, but you have to do it.

Back when we first arrived in Ouaga, I mainly did step aerobics at home. Then I eventually switched to the Rec Center gym, with it's treadmills, weight machines and television showing US TV programs. I also usually walked once a week for an hour with a group of friends over on the ISO school grounds.
Then we moved to France. For the first few months, I had no time to work out. I was too busy fixing up the house and getting everything set up in our new life here. We'd go on occasional walks, and when it began snowing, we did some cross-country skiing, but I wasn't working out regularly. And I felt it.

Then my parents sent us a Wii for Christmas.
I cannot convey the coolness of Wii. The kids love the games, of course, but I love Wii Fit. It's certainly not the most intense workout ever, but at least it's varied and gets you to try new things. (Boxing, for example- Boxing is great! Who would have thought that I'd ever say that?) I'd say that Wii Fit is certainly a great form of exercise for beginners and/or people who don't like to exercise or are easily bored.

In case you have no clue what Wii is, here's a short description: A wireless gaming system that uses handheld remotes that are keyed to a sensor bar that you put on top of your tv screen. Then when you play, for example, a tennis game on the Wii, you actually swing your arm (while holding the remote) just like you would if you were really playing tennis. The game evaluates your move and makes you "hit" the ball. It's all very realistic and quite impressive.

The Wii Fit game also includes a "balance board"- a very low step with pressure sensors. It keeps track of your center of balance and evaluates your performance in activities like skiing, snowboarding or step aerobics. There's also hula hoops (a surprisingly good workout) , yoga and even running. There's also an assortment of fun balance games.

But what am I best at?
It will probably not come as a surprise to learn that I excel at sitting absolutely rock-steady still, not burning a single calorie.

Be jealous. Be very jealous.
How did I discover my amazing gift? Well, I've never been a "yoga person, but Wii Fit inspired me to give it a try. I slowly worked my way through most of the basic poses over the period of a few weeks. As I progressed, I "unlocked" new poses. One of them was called "Lotus Focus". There was a little picture of someone sitting cross-legged on the balance board, looking at a candle. I was at the end of my workout and thought it looked relaxing, so I thought I'd give it a try. I got into position on the board and pressed "A". The screen showed a wooden floor in a dim room. The only light came from an animated candle in the center. I watched a moth flutter around the flame. About 30 seconds passed. Then there was an echoing sound of footsteps approaching. Guess the session is over I thought, and let myself shift a tiny bit. That's when a cross-sounding male voice shouted really loudly and surprised me so much I fell right off the board backwards.
What had the guy said? Sounded like he insulted me in Japanese... At any rate, it was pretty disconcerting.
Then the Wii told me I had done 28 seconds and that my performance was very unsatisfactory.
What? I'm not good at sitting?
That just didn't seem right. I must have missed something. .. I gave it another try. I sat down again, watched the moths. One of them caught on fire. Sick! But I didn't flinch. Then I again heard the footsteps. I figured the crabby Japanese guy was coming back to yell at me again, but I just sat there. Then the footsteps... faded away!
Finally, I realised that the candle was burning down. I may be a bit slow, but the truth was finally dawning: if you don't move a muscle, the yelling guy leaves you alone!
And you are just supposed to sit there until the candle burns down.

So , the pretend candle burned and burned and burned. I breathed slowly and steadily in what I hoped was a zen-ny, yoga-ish kind of way.

I began to wonder what kind of time frame was involved here. Seconds? Minutes? I needed to get finished and go write in my blog!
Three minutes passed... then the game ended and told me I had done a brilliant job. I had "beaten" the game by staying completely still for 180 seconds.

Later on, a quick search on the internet reassured me that I'm certainly not the only person that didn't quite "get" this game at first. And even more amazingly, I found out that that some people actually CHEAT at this game by putting a heavy box on the balance board! It's such a shame that some people must resort to pathetic strategems because they do not have my amazing talent for sitting completely still for very long periods of time. Sad, really.


babzee said...

Cheating at Wii Fit is like cheating at Solitaire - I don't understand. I'm entirely capable of fudging the numbers for self-aggrandizement in the eyes of another, but all by my lonesome? I'm not that easily impressed!

La Framéricaine said...

I do so agree with you about quiet pursuits being the most fun! I too would prefer to clean house than exercise.

Once I did exercise three times per week for two years at a gym in SF, lifting weights, and ended up weighing 125 and wearing a size 8-10/small on a 5'7" medium frame. But, all things must come to an end...

That was a very thoughtful gift on the part of your parents for the entire family. The "be still" game should be a good way to squeeze in some time for "meditation" daily;>)

oreneta said...

I have to admitt I would rather sit perfectly still for 180 seconds than clean up all that paint...acrylic or oil???

Are the stairs painted in the first place? You couldn't just repaint them????

oh.....and you have points/ammunition for AGES, cause it wasn't you that spilled the paint.

Beth said...

Yeah- I don't quite get what benefit cheating on wii Fit could have, either.

I actually have been ending my exercise sessions with the infamous Lotus game...It's a nice way to wind down and I'm so GOOD at it!

The paint in question is water-based, thanks be! If it had been oil-based, I told JP, we would have had to MOVE and find a new house!!
We will be painting the stairs eventually, so all traces of white will be gone.