No Pain, No Gain

The only exercise I get is walking behind the coffins of friends who exercise

Actor, Peter O’ Toole

I’m pushing 63 now and, truth be told, that’s enough exercise for anyone. 

But when I was younger, I used to jog. Reluctantly, I have to confess. But most of my peers were doing so and I didn’t wasn’t to stand out. 

In science, we have learnt that serious exercise causes the human body to produce endorphins, substances that interact with the brain’s opiate receptors to produce feelings of painlessness and ecstasy. Not unlike morphine or codeine. 

If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. 

The lone jogger starts off in a position of penitence, not unlike prayer. He then methodically moves on to heavy breathing followed by gasping and snorting in stertorous fashion, not unlike a blowfish. 

But the serious runner perseveres until pain is seen leaping from pimple to pimple in a face now wracked by suffering. 

It is at this point when prudent people begin crossing the street.

Theoretically, it is at this point when his body is producing its maximum amount of endorphins.

But do you see him giggling and occasionally kicking up his heels in bouts of mind-uplifting ecstasy? As Joan Rivers once remarked: “The first time I see a jogger smile, I’ll take it up.”

But there’s exercise and there is exercise. I have a friend, for example, whose idea of an accelerated heartbeat is a brisk sit.

That seemed, to me at least, an idea whose time had definitely come. But my wife who is obsessed with losing weight thinks that walking “10,000 steps” a day is what the doctor ordered so she goes walking all the time. 

I try to accompany her sometimes but the sight of so many elderly people cheerfully walking about in the early morning depresses the hell out of me. If you don’t think Malaysia has an aging population, try coming to Sri Hartamas in the morning. 

Also, knowing my luck, there will inevitably be dog poop around and my shoes have an unerring habit of finding it.  

So my wife took matters into her own hands and signed me up with a physical trainer. 

He turned out to be a fellow with muscles up to his ears and more tattoos than your average serial killer. 

But he was nice enough and seemed to have real knowledge about muscle groups and how to get fitter through diet, exercise and pithy aphorisms like “Take charge, don’t be large.” 

The thing was, he was very serious about working out with one-hour sessions scheduled three times a week. 

What I know is this: a one-hour workout is something that burns fat, sugar and starch into aches, pains and cramps. And the other thing: if you want to know the correct way to do a particular exercise, the answer invariably is “whatever hurts most.” 

It’s been three months now and I have to admit that I do feel better and sleep a lot better. That’s the good news. 

The bad news is that I haven’t lost a single kilogram.