Monday, May 5, 2014

Writing and the Gym

WARNING: The following post contains generalizations. It is also comprised of an observation that is so obvious, I'm convinced the comparison has been made several times before. If you wade through the stuff about exercise, you'll eventually get to the observation about writing. It's there. You just have to humor me for a bit longer than usual. Viewer discretion is advised.


I've been going to the gym, and believe me, the facilities have everything. You can take any number of classes, work with a personal trainer, lift free weights, swim laps in the pool, workout on the various machines, and so on.

The complex is massive, and it doesn't matter what time I go there. There's always multiple people there working out. It would be inspiring, if I didn't prefer working out alone. But, I digress.

Here's a typical workout for me. I'll warm up for 5-8 minutes on an elliptical machine, gradually increasing the resistance. For the last 3 minutes or so, I do intervals of high intensity and low intensity (HIIT for those of you in the know.)

From here, I move to weights. I'll create a circuit of different muscle groups and do as much weight as I can on them up to 12 reps. As soon as I finish one of these, I move immediately to the next. It keeps the heart rate up. Also, each station uses different muscle groups so I can continue to work hard. I'll complete this circuit of each station 3-5 times (depending on how many stations I've set up.)

After all this, I change and go to the pool for laps. According to an authority as knowledgeable as Google, swimming is an almost perfect exercise. It uses muscle fibers from the entire body, using continual resistance.  In fact, on days that I can't do the entire workout I've detailed here, I'll just swim.

The point of my workout is to get the maximum benefit from my time.  Not everybody feels this way. Here come the generalizations.

Every visit to the gym, I see people come in and do nothing. Well, that's not fair. They lounge. They talk and
socialize. This is common behavior in most gyms actually, though I've never understood it. I didn't even notice it at this gym, until I went to the pool.

The area boasts a 3 lane lap pool, a jacuzzi, a sauna, and a steam room. They're all used for socializing more than exercising.

At least one of them used it as an opportunity to pick up women. Women love this. Ladies, am I right? That's why the young woman in question left the area so quickly. She was playing hard to get.

It's possible that some of the people in there have completed workouts. Some of them look quite fit. Others... don't. But they play in the pool, soak in the jacuzzi, and hang out in the sauna. In fact, I've never seen the sauna with less than four people in it.

I've seen them do this for over an hour. They do nothing but relax from before I start my workouts until sometime after I'm done. These people are paying top dollar (I'm not, thanks to my nephew who got me a great deal on the membership) to come to a gym and hang out.

What's the point? Does it make them feel like they're getting fit, to simply be around the equipment?

Here's the comparison. Lot's of writers do the same thing. Heck, I've done the same thing.

I've spent plenty of time thinking about writing, talking about it, reading about it, and daydreaming about what life as a full time writer would be.

Writing is like exercise though. It is, in fact, a craft exercise. The more you do, the better you get at it.

Spending time at the gym relaxing is fine. After a workout, I've gone to the steam room and jacuzzi. The sauna is too crowded. But, and this is key, I've done this after the real work is completed. Otherwise, I wouldn't get the exercise needed to become fit.

Spending time socializing with writers, thinking & talking about the writing, and so on is fine. Doing it, and thinking that you're exercising your writing muscles is no better than spending hours at the gym doing nothing.