Recently, I made a comment at my book club that I never listen to the radio while in my car. Instead, I listen exclusively to audio books. (So much so that I almost had a melt-down last month when my CD player jammed and I had to drive home without the benefit of an audio book.) I also listen to audio books while I work out. I’m in deep –what else can I say?
I didn’t think that my audio-book addiction was all that unusual but it launched a discussion of what we think about while driving, doing housework, working out, etc. As a voracious reader, I consider every minute not needed elsewhere as another minute of “book” time. That means I read while drying and straightening my hair amongst other mundane daily tasks and I listen to audio books while vacuuming, folding laundry and various household chores. After the discussion, I began to wonder how I would fare if I took a break from audio-books every now and then, so I decided to experiment by listening to music instead of an audio book while working out.
I quickly discovered that listening to my Greatest Hits of (insert the band name chosen that day) meant I was constantly worrying that I might sing along with the songs, thus embarrassing myself at a new level at the gym. I decided the better course of action would be to listen to instrumental music, which led to my downloading movie theme songs. Normally, I pedal the bike at a pretty steady pace so I was surprised when I found myself suddenly pedaling at a much faster rate when the Rocky theme song started playing. I felt so inspired I repeated the song until the “high heart rate” message appeared on the bike monitoring screen, warning me to slow down. I’m not particularly keen on inducing a heart attack at the gym – surely no female would choose to die while wearing sweat-soaked clothes, no make-up and slapdash ponytail hair?
In light of that, I reduced my speed but I did glance at the number of calories burned and did a mental high five when I saw I was ahead of my normal count. However, having returned to a slower pace with the aid of a slower song, I soon found myself bored. Needing to see if I could make it through an hour-long workout without resorting to an audio or print book, I decided to distract myself from my book-craving and instead began to play a game on my iPhone. If I had to list my top five guilty pleasures, computer games would make the list, somewhere below books and Diet Dr. Pepper with vanilla from Sonic. I should probably mention that I usually play games on my phone while listening to an audio book. I also stop at Sonic on my way home from my work-out thus catering to three guilty pleasures within about two hours of getting up each morning.
In any case, I was able to pass the rest of that work-out toggling between Spider Solitaire and Sudoku on my phone. I had proven I was capable of enduring a book-free workout and I considered the experiment a success. Having marked that little challenge off my list, I entered the gym the next morning, excited to start a new audio-book. About halfway through my workout, I realized the guy on the bike next to me was pedaling along at a much faster pace than my own. I tried to block it out, but a couple of glances at my calorie count caused me to remember the bumped-up number from the day before, following my Rocky time. I told myself to pedal faster for a few minutes but realized I only did so for about twenty seconds before I unconsciously slowed down.
I decided to pause my book and play the Rocky theme song. It is impossible not to speed up and maintain the faster pace with that song. I again hit the repeat button and pedaled until the “high heart rate” message returned. Only then did I slow down. A quick look at the calorie count proved the effort had paid off and given me the sense that I had “earned” the right to return to a slower pace and my audio-book.
So, being the monotonous exerciser that I am, the Rocky theme is just the thing I need to inspire me to add that little push to my work-out time. It has become a regular part of my new routine – a little audio book time for warm-up, a Rocky-inspired speed burst and a well-deserved return to my audio-book and iPhone game playing. Someday, I’m going to ask that fast-pedaling man at the gym if he listens to Rocky as well.