One of my favorite activities when I lived in Denmark was doing gymnastics. The high bar, the rings, the floor, it was a blast.
Since I moved to Berlin, I haven’t been able to find a place with proper gymnastics equipment. Instead I’ve been going to the gym a few times a week–the power of homosexuality compels you!–but it feels like an obligation, not a hobby.
I finally found a weekly gymnastics team here in Berlin, so tonight I attended for the first time by to see what kind of shape I’m in after trading in my unitard for trackpants seven months ago.
Apocalypse. I can’t do any of the shit I used to love doing, including handsprings and front flips, which were basically the only thing I achieved in my 20s. During my downtime every moving part of my body seems to have become a coal-fired little pain factory.
The surprising thing is, despite how monotonous and horrifying it is, I’ve actually been pretty diligent about going to the gym since I moved here. It’s literally next to my work, and lifting iron bars up and down, it turns out, is a pretty decent way to de-spreadsheet on your lunch break.
I thought at least some of my new gym muscles would come in handy when I started doing gymnastics again. Weight, motion, it’s all the same thing, right?
No, punk, my body replies in aches and weakness. You’re gonna start from the scratch I give you.
This just confirms everything I hated about the gym in the first place. Working out doesn’t make you good at anything, it just makes you better at working out. If sports were kitchen utensils, the gym would be an apple corer. It performs precisely one function–one for which other utensils easily suffice, I might add–and it doesn’t take skill or finess to use, only force.
I realize this is a preference, not a principle. In a society where no one ever forces us to get up and move around, all exercise is equally arbitrary. In my experience, the gym is the only kind that feels that way.