On The Benefits of Exercise

Advertising agency Lyre and Fibb had their easiest commission yet.

“It’s gonna be hot,” The Client insisted. “It’s gonna sell itself.”

Mr. Lyre and Ms. Fibb popped the tops off their permanent markers.

“Tell us more,” they said, together.

“It’s for all ages,” The Client said. “All faiths, for men and women, straight or gay. It’s a fail-safe, fun-for-all-the-family goldmine.”

“Sounds huge,” said Mr. Lyre.

“F****ing mega,” agreed Ms. Fibb, exactly like that, pronouncing the asterisks.

“And I haven’t even finished yet,” said The Client, and he smiled.

“It’ll save your life. It’s almost guaranteed to improve your body and mind. It’s hyper-adaptable – you can do it indoors or out – and costs only as much as you want it to.”

“Interesting,” murmured Mr. Lyre. He began drawing pie charts on a white board.

“You want something spiritual? We can give you spiritual!” The Client had his jacket off. Sweat made half-moon shadows under each arm. “We can get the endorphins flying through your body so fast, you’ll swear you can hear choirs of angels singing… in surround sound…”

“F***ing cool,” whispered Ms. Fibb.

 “Yes,” agreed The Client. “Do you think you can do something with it?”

On his white board, Mr. Lyre had sketched a yacht, with his own smiling face on the sail. On her notepad, Ms. Fibb had written: “F$$$$$”.

Lyre and Fibb, marketing gurus of the twenty-first century, nearly leapt across the table to take The Client in their collective embrace.

“I think we can do business,” they said, in stereo.

They reached across the table, each shaking a hand of The Client.

“There’s just one thing,” The Client added.

 Smiles froze on three faces.

“Yes?” squeaked Lyre and Fibb.

“It hurts,” said The Client.

“And it’s hard work,” he confessed, shaking his head. He knew he’d made a mistake.

Two thumbs, in unison, popped two pen tops firmly back on two permanent markers. “You know the way out,” they said.


Look, we all know the benefits of exercise; that’s the easy sell. It helps to keep us healthy, it makes us feel good (eventually), and you don’t need expensive equipment to take part. Although, true to form, any burst of motivation I get for losing weight must always be accompanied by a purchase of some machine or other. And they really are extremely handy to have around to hang clothes on. Where do people who don’t have exercise bikes hang their coats when they’re throwing parties?

The first obstacle in any exercise regime is mental, not physical. Apathy. A word so significant to me that I should have it tattooed across my chest in Chinese characters to emphasize its meaningful place in my personal story. For some people, it’s a hurdle they never leap. Because even leaping metaphorical hurdles feels like hard work. Others are propelled over it by a heart-attack (or threat thereof) or a similarly attention-grabbing diagnosis. Nothing motivates like mortality.

Anybody who invents a cure for apathy will have my ever-lasting appreciation as well as (as a secondary benefit) going a long way to treating many of the medical conditions that strike westerners down every day.

Now there’s something to put some government money into.

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