I like to exercise.
There, I said it.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Actually, I didn’t even know it was a big deal until a few months ago when a friend caught me off guard with a question that seemed simple enough.
“What do you like to do in your spare time?”
My initial response was a chuckle, followed by a question back at her.
“What spare time?”
My friend, another homeschooling Mom of three who lives overseas, knew exactly what I meant. This season of life means that our time is spent before we even wake up. Our days are full. “I mean, IF you had spare time, how would yo spend it? What would be enjoyable for you?”
I thought for a few moments before replying. I like to read. I like to write. I like to cook. I like to travel. I like to take pictures. And I like to exercise. But, I felt a slight hesitation in my spirit before I was willing to say the last one out loud.
Why? Why would I be embarrassed to say that I like to exercise? I was asking myself this same question even as I was trying to reply to my friend. Thus began my self-examination, after which I came up with a few answers.
For starters, when you say that you like to exercise, I think people generally assume that your body will look like the body of one who says they love to exercise. I know, I know. It shouldn’t matter what you look like, right? But, can’t we all agree that this fits in the same category of being a skinny cook or a poor banker? In saying that we enjoy doing something, it naturally follows that our appearance will verify that we are telling the truth. I think I have hesitated to say I enjoy exercising because people may look at my body and (rightly?) assess that I don’t really look like I exercise.
Secondly, it doesn’t sound very spiritual to say you love to exercise. Paul tells Timothy, his son in the faith,”For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8) I completely agree with the Apostle Paul’s point. Body building doesn’t make any man fit for heaven. Salvation is through faith in Christ alone. My body is wasting away. Only what is eternal will last. I have lived in fear of saying I like to exercise because I don’t want people to misunderstand the priority that I give to exercising my body. In American culture, we tend to operate out of extremes, as if those who love Jesus could not possible find it worthwhile to spend time maintaining their physical bodies, or, the opposite, that those who spend time and energy maintaining their physical bodies must be shallow, vain, and lack a clear view of what the Word has to say about such things. It would sound so much more spiritual to say I like to pray or fast or worship in my free time, don’t you think?
Lastly, most people do not like to exercise. At least women, anyway. Rare is the woman who says she loves to exert herself and work up a good sweat. I’ve never heard another woman confess that she loves to lift heavy weights. In saying that I enjoy these things, I put myself in a category of people who are strange or different – even weird. My insecurity has kept me from being honest. It’s far more socially acceptable for a woman to say she likes to shop or catch up on email or do crafts. So, in the past, I would probably have answered in one of these ways rather than enthusiastically saying, “I get up early so I have plenty of time for a good, hard workout!”
I have lots more to say on this, so a few more posts will follow along these same lines. Now that I have dealt with my own issues, I look forward to sharing some of the reasons why I exercise. Dare I even say, some of the reasons I LIKE to exercise??