How to Become a Low-Key Exercise Person

Without becoming “an exercise person”…you know?


Two truths and a lie, in that order: I don’t currently exercise, I need to start and I’m super excited about this.

The problem is that I have a weird thing about gyms and fitness and the lifestyles that surround them. The weird thing is they bore me to unsalted tears. I never leave a conversation faster than when it takes a turn for the “10 reps and then replenish with electrolytes.” (Did that make me sound like an exercise person or like a cat lady pretending to be an exercise person?)

It usually comes as quite a shock to people when I reveal I was a die-hard athlete in high school and my whole life leading up to it. I hope it’s because they think I spent my formative years brooding in corners with artsy friends and indie magazines a la Perks of Being a Wallflower. Wouldn’t that have been romantic? Unfortunately, I was too busy doing cross country, soccer, track and field and other synonyms for running until I vomited.

Then I went to college and spent a lot of time watching Intervention next to my roommate with a Costco-sized bag of peanut M&Ms nuzzled between us like a baby. I ran occasionally, but my former athletic spirit flailed without the supportive structure and routine of a competitive team. Also missing? Uniforms. Because how cool.

I’ve since had my fitness-focused phases but they never last. I never like the way working out consumed me and my time and my identity. I know I need to move my body but is there a way to do it without surrendering a slot in my personality to it? Without sacrificing and disrupting parts of my life that I don’t want to change? How can I become an exercise person without becoming “An Exercise Person?”

I came up with five possible solutions and decided to test them. The rules: they had to be free and they had to pose a minimal disruption on my life.

1. The Walking Commute

How To Become A Low Key Exercise Person Man Repeller WalkingCommute

 I live in Bushwick, 4.3 miles from work, so a 90-minute commute didn’t really make sense. Instead, I rode the subway as usual but got off at early and walked the remaining 2.5 miles across the Williamsburg Bridge.

The good: Only added about 30 minutes to my overall commute which seems doable; the walk was beautiful; I listened to an audiobook; did not feel like exercise!

The bad: Hi-top vans = horrible idea!!!! Got 3 blisters and also chose to walk on the day of a “heat advisory” a.k.a. I nearly passed out. Also 50 minutes of walking every morning might get old?

2. The After-Work Run

How To Become A Low Key Exercise Person Man Repeller RunWorkout

I figured a short run after work couldn’t hurt me, especially since I usually take some downtime when I arrive home anyway. I ran for 25 minutes one day last week, right when I got home.

The good: I shower at night, so it didn’t cause a bathing/wardrobe conflict; I got to check out my neighborhood in a new way; endorphins!

The bad: Um, god awful because I’m out of shape? Spent the run noticing every bone in my body and not in a good way. My knees are especially bad from running so much in high school so they were giving the next day.

3. YouTube Yoga

How To Become A Low Key Exercise Person Man Repeller YoutubeYoga

I did a 30-minute video by Yoga With Adriene one day before work to see if I could work it into my morning routine.

The good: Waking up 30 minutes early wasn’t so bad; I have a crush on Adriene; it felt like a form of meditation; my body felt good during and after

The bad: Didn’t feel strenuous enough on its own; messed up my night-time shower schedule; kiiiind of boring

4. The Bedroom Workout

How To Become A Low Key Exercise Person Man Repeller At Home Workout

The “7-minute workout” was written about in the New York Times for being a short and effective at-home workout, so I downloaded the app and did two of them one night after work.

The good: 14 minutes is so short!!! It was very approachable and bite-sized and I was really sore the next day.

The bad: Under 30 minutes feels a little like cheating; I was self-conscious of the noise I was making for my roommates

5. The Dance Party

How To Become A Low Key Exercise Person Man Repeller Edit DanceParty

I love to dance, so I’d planned to just dance for a while in my room. Instead, my roommates and I decided to go to a nearby club and we danced without stopping from 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

The good: SO. FREAKING. FUN.

The bad: Hard to repeat and I was so sore I almost couldn’t walk for two days.


Running had to be nixed because of my knees and dancing at a club can hardly be considered a regular exercise solution. But regularly working youtube yoga, a bedroom workout and a walking commute into my mornings feels very free, very doable and very easy. If I can manage to not hit the snooze button at least three times a week in order to do these, does that make me at least a low-key exercise person?

And if it does, I’d be doing my low-key fitness a disservice by not investing in some athleisure right…?

Collages by Lily Ross.


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