Stephen Hawking told me it’s OK if I don’t exercise

Occasionally, I like being reminded of how unimportant I am. Because otherwise, I start to think I’m really important.

And then I start to think that other people are probably paying pretty close attention to me, because I’m really important. They are definitely judging me. They are thinking things like “How come she doesn’t have a normal job?” They are thinking, “Wait, that girl got plastic surgery? How come her nose is still so big?” And they might also think, “Why is it that that girl can’t move her leg in one direction while her arm is going in the other direction?”

This is true, and it’s embarrassing. I know, because I once took a Zumba class with my bonus mom (MIL). She is training to be an instructor. As in, she is awesome at it. I am out of shape. In addition to having to sit down between dances, wheezing and gulping water, I think I hit the woman next to me at some point, with an incorrect and overenthusiastic leg motion. “Was she OK?” asked Bear, when I told him. “I don’t know!” I said. “I had to try to catch up with the next move!”

But because I’m beginning to suspect that I’ll die a young, terrible death if I don’t get some exercise soon, I tried to follow one of those dance exercise DVD routines on Netflix last night.

You know, the ones where the really fun woman in half a shirt and tight pants is doing fifty things at once while she chirps, “You’ve got it, ladies! Shake that booty! Here we go now! Four, three, two, one! To the left! And back! And front and right! And now left and front and back and right and arms up! You’ve got it now! When your legs go left your arms go right! When your legs go back your arms go front! Alright now! Turn it up! It’s gonna get a little hotter now!”


And I’m shuffling back and forth, crouched down like a gorilla, sweating, my arms halfway in the wrong direction before I notice, frantically try to correct, and end up running into the couch.

I am not coordinated. Sometimes I think I’m missing part of a gene or something. Because I look around and the world appears to be full of coordinated women who succeed in dance exercise classes.

Bear laughs a lot. And then he gets up and does the step, with his arms doing the opposite thing. It is hilarious because he is this giant hairy man wearing gym shorts, with big biceps that make it look harder to move his arms, but he has apparently mastered this routine, from watching the perky woman while I fail. Not fair.

“Shake your booty!” I yell at him.

He tries. He looks puzzled.

Ha! At least I still have him there.

“That’s enough,” I say. “I think I’ve worked out enough for one day.” It’s one dance. On the screen, the peppy woman, not even slightly winded, is bouncing and exclaiming, “Who’s ready for the next one! I know you are!”

I respect her a lot, but I stop her. It has to stop.

Instead, I put on “Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.” Now this is more like it…The camera pans out into the cosmos. He is talking about how enormous it is. How it’s hard to think beyond our own galaxy, but even that is tiny compared to the size of the universe. Swirling stars and colorful nebulae fill the screen. Immediately, I am lost. He is saying that life evolved to copy itself so that it could continue after individuals die. That’s me. I’m going to die. There’s nothing I can do about it. And here I am, spending so much time worrying about my career. About the guy who got me fired. About whether I’m making the right tiny decisions and whether I have the right look.

I am worrying about my arms, and how chubby they are, and Stephen Hawking can’t even move his.

By the time Stephen Hawking hypothesizes that exploitative aliens might want to colonize earth, I have heated up the leftover pasta, with extra tomato sauce, grated a mountain of parmesan onto it, and I am eating it, riveted, watching some CGI team’s idea of alien spacecraft approach our planet with ill intent.

I have probably undone the work of the very small amount of exercise dancing that occurred before this, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter. I am just one ridiculously small organism. One microscopic cog. After I die, no one will even remember me. Because life has a short attention span. I should probably have kids soon, because reproduction might be the only thing that matters. We’re so primitive. We don’t even have spacecraft that can explore the universe like in Star Trek. I can’t remember why I ever bothered to worry about my nose. And there might be aliens!

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love the way I look when I shake my booty on my OWN terms.

New reader cake pic! Her face makes me happy. You know what I’m gonna say– send me more!!



Kate on November 21st 2011 in exercise, food

38 Responses to “Stephen Hawking told me it’s OK if I don’t exercise”

  1. Krystina responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    I love Zumba!! But I also happen to love to dance so it makes sense…:)

  2. Jennifer responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    I like Spinning because it makes me work harder than I thought possible, but the only movement is to pedal. My feet are strapped into the pedals. If I’m about to pass out, I can back off on the resistance a bit.

    Just for a change, following along with my Spinning class pals, I took a kickboxing class last week. It was the aerobics room equivalent to your living room episode. A “crouching gorilla” is the best comparison! At the end, the teacher asked us all, “How was it?”

    I announced, “I am an idiot.”

  3. Laura responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    It’s funny … I’m both athletic and musically-inclined (piano/guitar lessons for more years than I care to count), but you roll all that up, put it on a dance floor and all of a sudden I look like an incredibly awkward newborn deer who hasn’t quite figured out these things called “legs” yet. Hee.

  4. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    I love the music! I want to love the dancing— I’m just too awful at it :-)

  5. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Hilarious. I would be the one saying “I’m an idiot” at the end, too.

  6. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    YES. I’m musical, and pretty good at certain athletic things (I’m weirdly really good at iceskating). Why can’t I be good at something that combines these skills in a sexy and healthy way??

  7. San D responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    I realize I have too much anxiety when it comes to any kind of “performance in front of others” exercise, including anything that involves “teams”. I would be the one in volleyball that everyone would target, or at least it felt that way. My idea of exercise while younger would be anything that was just me on one side of the net, or table. Tennis, pingpong, pool or fencing (just a semester in college) appealed to my low center of gravity self. I could essentially plant myself somewhere and make my opponent work. If, for example in tennis someone hit a great shot past me, instead of running, I would say “nice shot”. Nowadays I love just walking and thinking and taking pictures. That is when I am not falling. Yup, I am the kind who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. You should see my knees. Everyone who knows me has a “I can’t believe how fast San D got up, story”. When we hiked with a tour through parts of Alaska, I was the last in line, and would be heard to say “my peeps don’t hike, we read”.

  8. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    @San D
    Love this. You sort of made me want to play pingpong. And I just love women who fall down. We’re good at getting back up!

  9. Christy responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Thanks for cheering me up! Who cares about that crazy guy, I love your writing! :)

  10. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Aww…thanks! Um, your welcome. And thanks.

  11. ckay responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:18 pm #

    Hilarious post, Kate! You should watch Battlestar Gallactica, also streaming on Netflix. The new version, not the old 70s version. SOGOOD.

  12. Deanna responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    I actually love to dance and have a background in dance. However, when I was young and at the right age to start dancing, my mom did not want me to take dance lessons because she believed I was too tall and awkward. At age 11 or 12 in a gym class, we had a modern dance teacher come in to work with us. She signaled me out and asked my if I had a lot of dance training. It was then I realized that maybe I should start dancing. My mom allowed me to enroll in ballet and modern and I became pretty good but not nearly good enough to make it a profession. I had some physical limitations that made dancing on point nearly impossible and I was a tad slow in picking up complex choreography.

    You may want to try a couple of Zumba classes and find a teacher that is better at breaking down the moves. I have taught Zumba before and I always show the moves before we start and do them nice and slowly so people know. Even if that doesn’t work, just move to the music and get a workout. Everyone else is too busy trying to do it right so they have no idea you are doing your own think. They are too! I know…I do this stuff for a living.

    Also….if any of you want to share your ‘being fired’ stories with me (and I have Kate’s permission on this so don’t think I am being a terrible mean crooked Blog Thief) please send to I am putting together a book on various ‘being fired’ stories. I got the idea from Kate but I had thought of it before along with a book of terrible interview stories.

    Thanks everyone!

  13. Marti responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I like step aerobics. Not as much choreography, and fewer limbs all moving in different directions from each other at the same time.

    I believe that if the Universe meant for us to be doing Zumba we would have been born with ….oh, heck. Let’s face it, we were NEVER meant to be doing Zumba.

    I try to keep in mind that although we are each infinitesimally small particles in this universe, we are the whole world to someone else in it. That keeps me stepping, running, and cheerful. Imagine being someone’s whole world! Big butt and all.

  14. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I like the way you put that. It’s important to find that balance– between being nothing and everything. And hooray for big butts!

  15. Diana responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Two things:
    1. My favorite part of the post is your quote (paraphrase?) of the dance exercise teacher in the DVD.
    2. We should have taken a cake-eating picture together the other night!

  16. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Thank you for appreciating that. It was my favorite part to write :-)
    And oh no! Yes! We should have!! It looks like we’re going to have to force ourselves to eat cake together again sometime…

  17. Sooz responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    This made me laugh sooooooooooooooooo hard. I almost peed myself. For real. (I know…TMI) ha ha. Anyway, I am woefully uncoordinated and suck at all things fitness. I can’t even walk a short distance and not have an accident. So no worries. You’re in excellent company my friend! :)

  18. Another Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Love this — this is why I stick to the elliptical and the treadmill. It’s almost impossible to do something wrong, especially on the elliptical, and as a similarly uncoordinated woman (who, incidentally, is more often sore from falling than from an awesome workout), I appreciate that ;)

  19. Diana responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    I would rather eat cake on your couch while you dancercise.

  20. Spelling responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Ummm, it’s one two three four, not four three two one. But whatever :D

    It’s okay if you’re not coordinated. It takes really good dancers a long time to get that good… everyone starts out at the noncoordinated level!

  21. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Oh no…What have I done?

  22. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Oh believe me, not in this video it’s not!

  23. Courtney responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    This post made me laugh, since I too have been streaming Netflix dance workouts. I can sort of do them, and my second attempts were typically better than my first, but hearing “you’ve got it!” when I’m still trying to figure out which way my feet go is…frustrating. I also love the introductions to the videos–”there’s no RSVP required for this dance party!” I nearly died from embarrassment before I even started. (Keep in mind, I’m alone in my apartment.)

  24. Sarah responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    i love the image of bear just getting up and completing some dance sequence PERFECTLY on the first try. that made me laugh a lot. and alright so maybe this is really embarrassing, but lately I’ve actually been forcing myself to dance and do squats to terrible pop/techno music for at least twenty minutes every day. by myself in my house alone. you know how they tell you that forcing your lips into a smile-position can actually make you feel happier? forcing yourself to dance crazy in front of the mirror for twenty minutes a day has the same effect. i think i do it less for the workout and more for how much fun it is.

    …oh grad school. what do you do to my brain?

  25. Jennifer Jo responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    This is a great post, Kate.

  26. Kate responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    @Jennifer Jo
    Thank you!

  27. Kerry responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    “I am worrying about my arms, and how chubby they are, and Stephen Hawking can’t even move his.”

    I’m being a crabass and really needed this perspective tonight. Phew. Feels better.


  28. Ashley responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 8:27 pm #

    I’d like to try zumba.

    To this day, I still can’t shake the image Richard Simmons videos.

  29. Lauren responded on 21 Nov 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    I am a fencer, which might not seem much like dancing, but it is in a way. When we do practice routines (doing the same moves over and over again with a partner), I find that it is too much like dancing and I’m not always able to follow… : /

    The one thing that always throws me off about dancing videos is the fact that we’re facing each other. I can’t seem to follow people unless we’re standing in the same direction; something about flipping the image around in my mind takes too long causing me always to be a step behind.

  30. Claire Allison responded on 22 Nov 2011 at 3:17 am #

    I did Zumba at the Y in a city I used to live in. It was full of the most heart warming group of miscreants I’ve ever seen- the middle aged moms, the people with physical disabilities, the 98 pound 4’10″ Indian man, and the few other twenty something girls so utterly at ease in this surrounding from the fact that we all looked weird together. After I left that city and group of mis-matched Zumba dancers I couldn’t think of a way that any new class would top the awesome of that. Finding a rag-tag group of random people to exercise with was the best.

    Now I swim laps. I don’t have to feel my sweat, it’s a full body work out, and if I go early enough in the day I can avoid the overly aggressive males that go to the University pool and leisurely do the back stroke while I think about how my day will be. Also: no wedgies in a swimsuit. And you’re practically supposed to wear a one piece and a swim cap: everyone looks like a space alien together.

  31. Val responded on 22 Nov 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    It’s kind of a joke around here, but I honestly believe sleep is more important to health than exercise.

    Sleep cannot be overrated. I mean, exercise is fine and all, but sleep? That’s sacred. love, Val

  32. Cynthia responded on 23 Nov 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Haha, this is why I love reading your blog! I couldn’t agree with you more.

    It is incredibly frustrating trying to keep up with an insanely peppy dvd workout – their enthusiasm and encouragement can seem quite hollow – especially if the steps are tricky! The idea of the woman in the insanely tight lycra saying ‘yeah, that’s it!!’ while you crash about hopelessly in front of the tv made me grin like a loon – been there, done that..!

    I also have to stay getting a better sense of perspective is something I try to do as much as I can, though I do fail sometimes. I think it’s the whole point – eat the damn cake, put on that red lipstick, buy/wear that dress that’s been lurking in the cupboard for weeks etc etc. Life is short – we need to enjoy it while we can!

    When I’m getting particularly stressed about something (work, family, how I look) I tend to picture myself then ‘zoom out’ – so me in Bristol, then the UK, then Europe, then world floating around. It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it does help me remember there is a MUCH bigger picture.

    End rant!

  33. Hunter responded on 25 Nov 2011 at 11:11 am #

    Days after reading this, is it odd that in moments of physical despair (every hour or so) I just have to think “Stephen Hawking!” and then a semblance of perspective is restored, and I am inspired to do something awesome instead of mope and prod at various bits of my disobedient body? Taking the disobedient mind out to play feels so much more fulfilling, speck of dust or not.
    Your writing is spot on, Kate (heh, almost called you Kake).

  34. Isabel responded on 27 Nov 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I am not coordinated in the least bit either. My sister does zumba, and I went a couple times and felt like a complete idiot, so I took up crossfit instead, because it does not require a huge amount of coordination.

  35. tirzahrene responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    Oh my god I just tried a Zumba class the other day. I had to count it a success in the end because I didn’t die. Some days, that’s all it takes.

    I haven’t felt that uncoordinated since taking a beginner’s ballet class with a bunch of third-graders a couple years ago. I felt like an elephant – a welcome curiousity, but HUGE – and could never remember the feet AND the arm moves at the same time. But it was fun.

  36. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    LOL! Exactly. That’s how I define success, too.

    And oh my god. Don’t even get me started on my experience with ballet.

  37. Vintage Tips, Tutorials and Links Round-Up | Penny Dreadful Vintage responded on 19 Mar 2012 at 5:56 am #

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