With the onset of cold weather, it’s been more of a struggle to get out of the house for some exercise. My biking has been diminished to about zero, and jogs are fewer and farther between. I don’t belong to a gym, mainly because an after-work visit, coupled with my long commute, would push the start of my evenings to 8:00 pm. Not fun.
Sarah solves this by getting up early a few times a week, setting a kitchen timer for thirty minutes, and performing a variety of tricks on the exercise ball, otherwise known as the Sexiest Exercise Equipment Ever. Ostensibly these things are supposed to give one a healthy cardio workout, not prepare them for a life on the strip club stage, which is how it looks every time I catch her in the act. She’s out in the living room doing her thing—a hip twirl here, a pelvic thrust there—as I walk out of the bathroom after my shower, and after a few minutes of this I feel as if I have to go back in again.
Sarah loves it, and with the decline in my routine, I thought I’d give it a try. I wanted to get some abdominal work-out, I told her, something equivalent to sit-ups. (Why I didn’t just do some sit-ups is something I’ll be pondering for a while.) She knew exactly which move to recommend and performed it herself. Feet against the wall; ball under the small of your back; commence crunching. I climbed on to try myself, and fell right off. I tried again. “Do you feel it in your stomach?” she asked. Not really. “Try moving the ball this way.” No, now it hurt in my shoulders. “Hmm, maybe if you put your feet like this?” Still wasn’t right. You know what, I said, I think I’ll just try normal sit-ups. At which point I laid on the floor and screamed in horror.
I couldn’t lie down. Any attempt to do so resulted in a pain commensurate with a sucker punch to the gut. Sitting up was fine; lying down was no longer an option. I considered this for a moment. I like lying down. I really like sleeping. Having a permanent injury like this could put a serious crimp on my quality of living. I began to worry. When I worry, I like to lie down and think things over. I did so, or tried to, and got a gut-busting reminder of why I was worrying in the first place. More worry. More desire to lie down. More searing pain.
This is where I’m supposed to say that it was just a strain and it got better within an hour or two. And it did, to an extent. But this was a week ago, and even now lying down will invoke a subtle, but noticeable, reminder of that afternoon, the afternoon an exercise ball tried to kill me.
Of course now I know better. If I’m going to force my body into exercise, a state that it’s still not entirely comfortable with, I should stick with the equipment that’s been around awhile and been subject to extensive QA—things like running shoes, bicycles and good old gravity. As inflatable exercise balls go, call me when they become an Olympic sport, and then we’ll talk.