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Exercising on vacation: Are you for or against?
The Real Housewives were decidedly against.
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Kyle Richards of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” — a show I have admittedly never watched, yet I’ve written about Kyle before — quit drinking last summer and has since been on her workout grind. Recently when the women went to Vegas, Kyle exercised in the morning! On vacation! Can you believe!
“The old me would have never gone to a gym in Las Vegas. I would be exhausted and hungover, looking for room service. Now, I’m laying there, awake, since 5 o’clock in the morning. Why wouldn’t I go exercise?”
Fair point! The other ladies are snarling, though. As they lounge in robes talking shit after yet another night of pickling themselves with booze, Dorit says, “According to Kyle, everyone and everything needs a workout.”
She goes on:
“I mean, how miserable do you have to be on vacation, on a girls’ trip in Vegas, and you are setting the alarm at 5:30 to go work out in the gym? Are you deliberately trying to torture yourself? She’s living in extremes right now, and it’s not sustainable.”
They’re annoyed that Kyle’s working out because they’re not and they feel bad about it. Case closed. When you live in a culture that positions exercise — and the thinner body that can accompany it — and “health” or “wellness” as next to godliness, you develop a lot of baggage about your level of participation. That’s why someone else being dedicated to something you aren’t as dedicated to (especially something we feel we’re supposed to do to be “good, healthy” people) feels like a personal attack, as if they’re bringing attention to your failure to adhere. It’s also about envy, of course: Kyle’s getting all shredded and Zen and changing her life for the better and the other gals are feeling a way about it, probably because they aren’t.
Even Kyle gets this. She says, “What would I have thought of the new, Las Vegas Kyle? She’s annoying.”
It’s incredibly depressing to me that these women think exercise is necessarily miserable. This isn’t an unpopular opinion: Some people think that any exercise other than “gentle movement” is “punishing” — allow me to refute that for you — or that since exercise and diet culture can overlap, exercise necessarily has the same aims as dieting (right this way for more refuting). The Real Housewives imagine that Kyle’s exercise is primarily or exclusively about torturing herself into thinness because they know no other purpose for it.
Kyle, meanwhile (even though exercise has caused her to lose weight, which can happen especially if you’re no longer drinking thousands of calories a week in alcohol) says she’s used exercise to cope with troubles in her marriage and the death of a friend, and now that she’s not drinking she has the energy and focus for exercise, which also helps soothe her anxiety. These are some of the things unrelated to looks or weight that exercise can do, and it’s why “fitness” people like Kyle (and me) are so annoying! Everything gets better, so we can’t shut up! Sorry! But not really!
It’s hilarious, too, that Kyle’s routine is deemed “unsustainable.” Kyle is a Real Fucking Housewife — she’s loaded beyond measure, she probably has a fabulous home gym, and she doesn’t have to go to a normal job. She could exercise at 5:30 a.m. for the next 40 years without much trouble at all. This is considered “extreme” because it seems really hard if you don’t or can’t do it. The same goes for when people proclaim that anyone who likes to exercise a lot is “addicted” to it: They imagine that a person could only put themselves through a punishing, torturous exercise regimen if they were psychologically troubled.
All this brings me to my defense of exercising on vacation.
No one believes me when I tell them this (and it really is the kind of thing you don’t know until you experience it) but there comes a point when you’ve found exercise you like to do that it becomes something … you like to do. Your exercise routine makes you feel energized or calm or emptied of rage or satisfied by the completion of an everyday task supportive of mental and physical health. You do not feel good in body and mind if you don’t do it. You feel this most intensely at the earlier stages of your exercise journey, where Kyle is. She’s exercising on vacation because she doesn’t see exercise as something she needs a vacation from.
People likely don’t understand this because they haven’t yet found a type of exercise that doesn’t feel like misery or torture to them. That’s probably because they only do the kind of exercise that involves eating as little as possible and doing endless, boring cardio. Kyle’s playing with the weights. Weights are fun. The girls who get it, get it.
Listen, there are plenty of times I’ve gone on vacation and didn’t exercise at all. It depends on the vacation. If my days are packed with miles of walking and activities I’m almost certainly not going to try to fit a workout in. But if everyone’s doing nothing for most of the day and I’m tired of the beach or whatever, I might go check out the hotel gym or a local yoga class. Trying to shoehorn exercise into a vacation becomes potentially problematic when it’s causing you (or other people) to feel hustled, rushed, or stressed — all the things we don’t want to feel on vacation! If you can’t easily slot a workout into any of your days on vacation, you probably shouldn’t do it. But if you’re awake and no one else is doing anything and you have nowhere to be and you feel like working out, then by god, work out.
The fact is, if I can manage to slot a workout in on vacation, I’m inevitably going to feel even better on the vacation. As much as we like to uphold vacations as Good Feels Only experiences, vacations can also be energy-sapping, stressful, and uncomfortable (re: sleeping arrangements, modern travel woes, that thing where your poop schedule gets all out of whack, etc.), so getting a workout in makes it less likely that I’m going to arrive home wishing for four more days of PTO to recover from the vacation. Humans are little routine gremlins — if your routine already involves exercise, you might not feel so good if you don’t do it for a few days on top of eating more, drinking more, sleeping less, and ramming your limbs into coach class seats. That’s why I do it.
What say you: Do you exercise on vacation? Why or why not? Are you OK with it conceptually but choose not to do it, or do you think anyone who does it is nuts (that’s fine, you can be honest with me)? Let me know: