Not your ordinary gym experience

DSC_0028 smI don’t exercise. When people ask, I say that the garden is my gym.

It’s true, because the garden provides exercise, but in reality the garden is nothing like a gym.

You go to the gym, and a 5 kg weight is always going to weigh 5 kg. The rowing machine provides smooth, consistent resistance. The treadmill is free of rocks and tripping hazards.

Things are less dependable in the garden. The hoe bounces unexpectedly off tough roots and buried rocks. You’ll be turning soft soil, getting into a nice rhythm when suddenly the soil fights back. Twitch roots grab the spading fork and wrench your back in ways you cannot describe to the physiotherapist. Each forkful of soil is different—live.

At the gym, you go for an hour, you do your routine, and you leave.

In the garden, you start at 7.30 am. You fill the wheelbarrow again and again, and still there is no end to the weeds. At noon you stop for lunch, and your body begs you not to go back to the garden. You go anyway, because there is still so much to do. You work more slowly. Garden work doesn’t encourage good exercise form, and you need to stop frequently to straighten your aching back.

By late afternoon, you feel you can’t possibly pull another weed. You look up from your labour and see that you’re nearly done with this bed. If you can just carry on for another 30 minutes…

You make the final raking of soil and sigh. You can rest now, as soon as you put your tools away and finish the other chores you’ve ignored in order to finish the day’s gardening.

Your back screams as you bend to pick up your tools. You slowly trudge from the garden…

And then an irrigation line breaks. Water gushes everywhere, and you want to weep as you rush to fix the problem, wrestling with wet, muddy pipes.

When you finally stagger inside, it is time to make dinner. You have been at the gym for nearly ten hours.

 

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