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The Workout Time Fallacy

Often, when someone tells you that something will take XX:XX time, they neglect to factor in all kinds of things. This applies in particular to working out; more often than not people are focused on the length of the workout: "Just 15 minutes every day!" or "Just 30 minutes 5 days a week!" or what have you. But this is actually lies.

For instance, if you go to a gym, there's the 10-15 minutes getting there (assuming you don't work or live within moments of walking into a gym, in which case THAT IS NICE FOR YOU), possibly not even counting walking through a parking lot or checking in or whatever it is you have to do before your workout actually begins.

Then there is the whole workout clothing thing. Now, if I could wear sweatpants to work (and maybe you can do this, or you work from home, same thing applies: I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU) then fine, I could take this out of my time accounting. But I have to wear at least jeans to work, so I count the time to change and stow my other clothes. This generally still applies if you work out in your home, so go right ahead and count it! I suppose if you have it down to a total science and you are a fricking robot this can take seconds. In reality, it probably takes a few minutes, particularly if you have some kind of long hair to put back or you have to queue up your ipod or what the hell ever other gear you need to prepare. I for one also have a hell of a time getting in and out of your average sports bra. Add another 5 or so minutes for all this.

THEN if you are planning on doing a reasonable workout that actually, you know, works you out, you are probably going to be gross afterwards. If it's the morning, your de-grossing can coincide with your morning shower. If it's the evening and you need to go out to dinner afterwards, you have to take a whole other freaking shower and basically do your morning thing all over again. Or if you are particularly gross after said workout (like when I play softball) you can't even sit on your own furniture or lie in your own bed, so you need a shower. Add another 15 minutes, at least, from the time you enter "workout time" to the time you are back to "normal time".

If you're a gym person, add another 10-15 minutes to go home. 5, if you're lucky and you live near the gymn and the lights are with you.

Now, best case estimate, your workout has cost you just over an hour of your day. That's for a lowly half-hour workout. I have heard tell that some people, the Workout People, actually like to do an hour or more of exercise a day. For now I will fantastize about becoming a Workout Person, and surrendering precious email opening and web browsing to the goal of becoming an American Gladiator. In reality, I will try to figure out how to fit this 01:05 adventure into my daily routine.

I considered trying to fit it into my morning. Running was my preferred idea for this; no driving involved, no stupid machinery in my home, no feeling like a damn fool in front of a workout video I'm being halfhearted about. I have to get to work at 9am which means I need to leave the house around 8:10. It takes me 30 minutes to get ready (more if I want to pack a lunch, let's not get into how much time food takes, jesus that's a whole other post) so that puts me at finishing my workout at 8:30 or so. This means getting up at 7:45. That should be doable on days when I don't have class, right? OK, that's my best bet, but lately it's been below freezing. ALOT. Which makes the running thing sort of untenable, although I guess if I were really badass I would suck it up. (Amusing note: I posted a craigslist ad for running buddies but the one woman I wasn't completely terrified to meet didn't write me back.)

Then, given the freezing, I considered the gym option. So I get to work at 9, I'm there until 5:30, I don't realistically get home until 6:30 (on non-class days). I take my ass over to the gym and get started at, let's be honest here, 7pm, finish up, get home by 7:45. I promised myself 30 minutes of drum practice every day, so now it's 8:30. Then I have 3.5 hours to eat dinner and do everything else I want or need to do.

Actually I guess that doesn't sound so bad now that I write it all out. And on class days I could maybe go to the gym (if I joined SportFit it's directly next to the building) before class, assuming I wasn't so gross that my classmates keeled over. Just... the idea of not being "free" until 8:30 (and then having to figure out dinner) sounded so awful to me. Realistically those 3.5 hours will disappear like snowflakes on a spring day. But what I have to get my mind around is that this is how I want to spend my free time. That time from 6:30 to 8:30 is free time which I have chosen to fill with efforts that will help me be the person I want to be.

But the reason I call this the time fallacy is that it's NOT like I will get home at 6:30, work out, and be done at 7. I have to reckon with the REAL time this will take up. I think about all the things I want to spend my time on - photography, games, tv, reading, crafts, socializing, bowling, reading teh ljs, wikipedia meandering and a long list of other fun things - and know that some things are just not gonna get done. Tonight I find out just how much homework is in the mix. I offer this not as excuses, but as a sort of get-real approach to my own excuses: these are the facts, ma'am, and you must work with them.

I know, those of you with kids are laughing at me right now. This is why birth control is very important to me.

I guess there is a pro-con matrix going on:

Running Pros: Free/Cheap, takes less time, right outside my front door
Running Cons: Requires earlier wakeup, Seasonal/weather issues, public and terrifying

Gym Pros: Access to professional trainers, equipment, surrounds me with Workout People
Gym Cons: Expensive as hell, sucks up percieved free time, requires driving, public and terrifying

Someday I would like to be a Workout Person and do both. Yes, I hear the peals of laughter. I admire Workout People though. I think they are better people than I am, if I am going to be completely naked in my feelings.

EDIT: OH and I totally forgot STRETCHING. Which is like another 10 minutes they don't count in those "work out in a half hour" things.

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( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
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ex_midwinte
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
You know, I have a treadmill at home and 30 min is still "really" 45 min for various reasons. The 30 min workout is a myth!
snidegrrl
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
If I had a spot for a treadmill, I think I would be trolling craigslist for those!
peregrin8
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
Drum practice is exercise, isn't it?

I don't really work out in the sweaty way you describe (I walk to work or do yoga) but I can sympathize. Actually I often wear the nicer yoga clothes to work. But some weeks I don't understand how one can be expected to work a full-time job and do ANYTHING else at all.
snidegrrl
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
Drum practice is kind of exercise, but mostly not. I need cardio and strength and... well, I want to work out intensely. Not to dismiss yoga; I like yoga and find it really helps.
(no subject) - peregrin8 - Jan. 30th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snidegrrl - Jan. 31st, 2008 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
oontzgrrl
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:15 pm (UTC)
This is why I joined a gym that is open 24 hours. I'm not saying I actually go to it. But I could! 24 hours a day!


Sigh...
snidegrrl
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, Lifetime Fitness. You are too far away. Imagine if that calculation above included a 20-25 minute drive both ways! Ugh! Also: I haven't done a cost comparison but, dang have I heard horror stories.

You should go today! ;)

I'll have to call you soon and tell you about my nervous breakdown last night.
(no subject) - oontzgrrl - Jan. 30th, 2008 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snidegrrl - Jan. 31st, 2008 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oontzgrrl - Feb. 1st, 2008 01:15 am (UTC) - Expand
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snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
Ha! I know the feeling.

This video sums it up:

(no subject) - omphaloskepsis - Jan. 31st, 2008 05:26 am (UTC) - Expand
maroonmd
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
I have a treadmill at home, and I love it. Besides getting dressed to work out, it takes much less time. I workout after work/in the evening sometime, which is when I take a shower anyway. 2 birds, yadda, yadda.

Any reason you're so against getting equipment for your home? For me, going to the gym or running outside took much more drive than getting myself into a routine at home. Either way you have to really want it, but add driving or weather to the equation and it was much easier to talk myself out of it. & If I schedule it around my daily shower... time is much less of an issue.
angela_la_la
Jan. 30th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC)
Not to mention that you (Kim, that is) could integrate hobbies like watching TV or listening to music along with the treadmill. Maybe if you traded in your Giant Guest Bed for a futon you could put it in there? Or is that room too easy to ignore? Your basement isn't too awful, IIRC, and you could just hang a cheap TV from the ceiling beams.
(no subject) - snidegrrl - Jan. 31st, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snidegrrl - Jan. 31st, 2008 03:25 am (UTC) - Expand
simplesimon
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
I think they are better people than I am

Bah, I say! Bah! I can think of few people who are better than you and find your statement to be fallacious and demeaning to women (one in particular).

For shame.
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
Thank you! This is the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a while. I was just being honest about my thoughts. :( I reckon we all have some that are perhaps a little off-kilter.
kazoogrrl
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
My twice to three times a week workout took me anywhere from 1 hr. 15 min. to 2 hrs. It was 10 to 15 minutes to get there and get ready, 30 minutes of elliptical, 20-30 minutes of weights, then 10-30 minutes (depending on what I wanted to work on) of stretching/yoga/toning mat stuff. Suddenly 2 hours *BAM* gone!
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:26 am (UTC)
But it was worth it right!
examorata
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
My brother brought up again this weekend how much better for you walking is than running. You have to make yourself walk...vigorously, which for a slowpoke like me feels (and I'm sure looks) ridiculous. But running can really screw up your knees.

I have issues about running or ridiculous-walking outdoors in the dark, too, which is half the year before-work for me. I mean, some of the fear is irrational and stems from things in my past, but not all of it is. To really engage myself in a workout I have to feel pretty comfortable and uninhibited. I can't do that out on a street where I'm trying to listen for traffic and rogue muggers through my earbuds, you know?

I empathize completely. If I didn't live in a place with a gym in the basement I have no idea what I'd do. When I move, I have no idea what I'll do. I suspect the answer will be "buy an elliptical," but aiee big expensive scary. (The free one in the basement is not intimidating. It is my bestest buddy and I miss it now that it's out for renovation.)

And for real, I don't see how people in relationships, with kids, hell even with roommates do it. It's easier for me to carve time out for myself because so much of it's...mine.

Your weekends aren't usually as free as my Lazy Ass weekends, but maybe do a few good workouts on Saturday and Sunday so there's less weekday pressure? Want to try tennis again sometime in the spring? =)
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)
Oh yeah. The dark. Don't get me started!

I would surely be interested in tennis!
zarobi
Jan. 30th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
Word, sister. Time is precious.

Btw, do you still have that stepper-thingy I lent you? That could be your alternative to cold-morning runs.
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:41 am (UTC)
I do, and it has come in handy for times when I can't get out of the house. Wait... didn't you want that back???
(no subject) - zarobi - Jan. 31st, 2008 02:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
multiplexer
Jan. 30th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
When I am on the other side of the flu, you should come to LA Fitness with me at lunch. It's a 5 minute walk and I manage to get there, work out, pick up a sandwich and come back in an hour slot.

And work pays for $25 of the $35/month fee in automatic reimbursement.
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:43 am (UTC)
This would foul up my carpooling situation, as that has a built in half hour lunch, but that is not to say it's out of the question. So I assume you don't shower after a lunchtime workout if you have time to pick up a sandwich??
(no subject) - multiplexer - Jan. 31st, 2008 05:01 am (UTC) - Expand
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ideolator
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)

Amen to this. I lost 75lbs., and my "workout routine" has consisted entirely of parking at the far end of every parking lot, always taking the stairs, walking instead of driving if it's doable, and so on. I deliberately make sure my grocery list does not follow the layout of the store. Wandering back and forth across the store three or four times is more exercise than going efficiently from one end to the other, once. (I still hit the frozen stuff last, but, you know...)

Honestly, unless you actually like the process of whatever your workout is (running, ellipsy-thingy-dingy, volleyball,) you're eventually going to give it up for things you do like. Instead, find ways to make the things you already like into better workouts. I like to shop, so I make it more physical work... and as a bonus, it now takes longer, which just means I GET TO SHOP LONGER! I win! One to nothing! Next song. Next song!

Also: DDR.

(no subject) - snidegrrl - Jan. 31st, 2008 03:47 am (UTC) - Expand
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msteleute
Jan. 30th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
I think what helped me get my tush in gear was that my gym is located in my building. I know that if I go home first it's unlikely I'll go back out. I recommend that you use the gym closest to your job and go before you go home. :)
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:45 am (UTC)
A good thought, but it would screw up my carpool. :( That's why I was assuming I'd go somewhere in Laurel.
valancymay
Jan. 30th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not an Workout Person, but I'm trying; sadly it means either giving up sleep or social life, so I try to balance both a little.
editgrrl
Jan. 30th, 2008 10:18 pm (UTC)
My exercise is walking my dogs. It's good for me and it wears them out a bit. So maybe you could, er, get a dog? Teach your kitties how to walk on a leash?

I stopped going to yoga when I moved into this house because it was way too far to drive. I felt really bad about that.
(Deleted comment)
snidegrrl
Jan. 31st, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
towel/change? Does that mean you just sort of wipe off the sweat? I totally can't imagine feeling comfortable doing that!
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