So sometime in late 2016 I decided that my Life Goal for 2017 was to teach myself to run. I’ve never, in my entire life, been a runner. Walking, yeah. I like walking, and I do it a lot; it’s my preferred form of exercise. But running? Never.
I bounced through some some the popular couch-to-5k style apps, but none of them really stuck. I got better at running–when I started, I could barely manage a thirty-second jog–but I would still plateau out fairly quickly. I don’t know what it is. Maybe there’s just Something About Me that means I’m not a natural runner, but the point is the gamification aspect of the apps dried up pretty quickly, making it harder to keep at them.
And then I decided to bite the bullet, and download Zombies, Run. That review is from Kadomi, and it pretty much sums up my experience with the app. Apart from the weight loss part. I just don’t, apparently, really lose weight by doing exercise, which is kind of a shit of a thing but also means I need another motivator to get me out and moving. And working my way through the story of Zombies, Run is apparently that thing.
Over a year later, and I still can’t run through an entire episode. But I can run in bursts and, more importantly, I actually have some defined muscle in my legs for the first time in my life (I’ve always hated my legs, for a number of reasons, but I’m learning to live with them). And, the thing is? I just like the story of Zombies, Run. It’s interesting. The characters are, variously, engaging and adorable and infuriating. I talk back at them; cheer at their victories and cry at their losses.1 And I do like the gamification element of building up the little township, even if it doesn’t have a direct impact on the story missions per se.
So the app works for me and, it seems, it works for a lot of other people as well. At all fitness levels. And on that last note, I think it’s important to note that the app’s lead writer, Naomi Alderman, is (in her own words) fat. I was never a fit or athletic kid but–as mentioned above–I’ve always liked self-paced, non-competitive activities like walking.2 I’m fairly convinced now, as an adult, that a lot of my ingrained inactivity and “hatred of exercise” was instilled in me by high school P.E. lessons created both by and for the fit and aggressive. I loathed them,3 and it’s basically taken me a lifetime to even start to unwind the long-term emotional, mental, and physical damage they caused.
It’s kind of ironic to realize, after over two decades, that you don’t actually “hate exercise”; you just hate the way it’s commonly taught and presented.4 But go figure, I guess.
- Thankfully, I’m usually the only person in our apartment’s gym. [↩]
- Or DDR. One of the fittest times in my life, my late teens and early 20s, was basically because I spent a lot of time playing bemani games. Again, I always seemed to plateau out on fitness and coordination faster than all of my friends, but it didn’t really matter; we could still play together and I still had fun. [↩]
- Except for that one time we walked to the local gym and did Boxercise lesson. That was fun! And so much more enjoyable than every other class that I still remember it nearly twenty freakin’ years later! [↩]
- It’s also why I find “have you tried yoga?” so freakin’ infuriating. Because yes, I have, and yes! I even enjoy it. I just freakin’ hate yoga classes; they’re too long and too intense for me. And also tend to talk too much about fishslapping. Basically when I’m a millionaire the first thing I’m going to do is hire a nice, gentle, woo-hating personal yoga instructor–i.e. that one instructor I had in like two Yin classes before she moved to Melbourne, but man she was the best–to run me through a daily half-hour routine and it will be glorious. [↩]