Inconspicuous Fitness

Here at the University of Winnipeg, we are blessed with beautiful athletic and fitness facilities. Or so I’ve been told. I’ve never set foot in the Duckworth gym for a few simple reasons:

1. Windows. As anyone who’s ever been in the UW library knows, you can see everyone on the treadmills or in the weight room. Little creepy, no?

2. Culture shock. I’ve received a gym pass card for the last two years, but every time I approach the gym entrance I can feel the sweaty people beyond the little gate looking at me, and I can hear their thoughts: “He doesn’t belong here! He doesn’t know the first thing about triceps or planks or what qualify as running shoes! Look at his sneakers!” Then I pretend I was just walking past on my way to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

3. Pride. I generally prefer people to think that I put much less effort into any given aspect of my life than I actually do. This makes anything I achieve slightly more impressive, or at least that’s the logic I use. To the extent that anyone cares whatsoever about anything that I do, I can’t have them under the impression that I take time out of my day to put effort into my pursuits.

For these reasons I’ve developed a brand new, easy-to-follow system to stay in shape through the winter months. It’s called Inconspicuous Fitness, and consists primarily of walking around a large indoor space in such a manner and in such attire as to rouse no suspicion of effort. Please bear with me.

The first and most important thing to consider is your route. If you’re on the UW campus a fair amount, this should be fairly easy, but it’s also possible in your workplace, if you have access to a large enough range. You’re going to be following a set route that is long enough that the people you encounter on each circuit will be different, or so that the people that see you multiple times will have forgotten about you in-between encounters. About 7-10 minutes should for one time around your selected path should be enough.

At this point, a warning: do not attempt to improvise a route. You will inevitably end up like some confused Pacman™ running into dead ends all over the place. This is a surefire way to show everyone that you are trying to exercise secretly. Embarrassment ensues.

Your route can be modified for length, number of stairs and proximity to refreshment centres (aka water fountains). You can adjust your speed as well, but only if you also adjust your facial expression accordingly. For example, speed-walking is possible, but only if you display a late-for-an-important-class kind of terror to cover your true motives.

Take a backpack filled with heavy books if you want to achieve that extra burn. Dress lightly and wear the most comfortable shoes you own that are not actually meant for exercising.

The Inconspicuous Fitness regime is largely focused on cardio, but there are some special tricks for those adventurous souls who want to mix in some upper body strength-building as well. First, wait till you are in a mostly vacant hallway and pretend to trip, falling as gently as possible to the floor. Before getting up right away, sneak in a few pushups or roll onto your back and pretend to try to stand while actually performing 3-4 sit-ups to work on those oh-so-sneaky abs.

The most important factor with these techniques is that no one should be looking at you directly. The good thing is that even if someone catches a glimpse of you, they’ll only think, “that poor person is trying to make it look like they fell on purpose to do some pushups, but really they’re clumsy – that’s pathetic.” The joke’s on them.