IQ™ Test

Everyone told me I should start working out. Join a gym, they said. A new year, a new you, they promised. It’s never too late to start a healthy lifestyle, I was told. Funny how these so called “advocates” of mine neglected to mention the destructive side-effects of exercise.

I didn’t realize the negative repercussions myself, until last week when I walked past a mirror twice and flexed my arms both times, wrote a list of which workout clothes I would wear for the week, and flipped through the TV section of the paper to highlight the programs I would watch during my workouts.

And then it hit me: my god, I’ve become a meathead.

When you decide to buy into the fitness hype and start working out, no one ever tells you that there is an inverse correlation between healthiness and interesting… ness. In just one short month I have become totally boring.

[Sidebar: I was going to put an exclamation point after the word “boring,” but then decided against it. See what I’m saying? Even my punctuation has become uninteresting.]

I present to you further evidence:

Exhibit A:

Natasha: “Hey Jenny. Farnsworth and I are thinking about catching a movie and then drinks afterwards. Wanna come?”

Me: “No thanks. I’m going to the gym tonight.”

Nat: “It’s Friday night. You’re spending your Friday night at the gym?”

Me: “It’s the best night to go! It’s one of the few times I can get on my favorite elliptical machine. It’s right under the fan, great view of the street below, and the TV comes in clearer than any of the others. Have fun at the movies, though!”

Exhibit B:

My notebook, normally reserved for quirky anecdotes and observations to write about in my blog, is now filled with cryptic scribblings like this:
Seated row: 10 reps x 3 sets @ 40lbs
Lat pulldowns: 10 reps x 3 sets @ 60 lbs
Hip abductor: 15 reps x 2 sets @ 40 lbs
Hip adductor: 15 reps x 2 sets @ 60 lbs
Treadmill: 20 min @ 5 incline, speed 4.5

Exhibit C:

Vivian: “Hey Jen, it’s Viv. So what’s shaking, bacon?”

Me: “Nothing much. Oh, can you believe this? So I go to the gym on Tuesday and they totally rearranged all the machines! The ellipticals were where the treadmills used to be, they switched the regular bikes and recumbent bikes around. What the hell? Whose bright idea was that? Sheesh. Hey – how much does your gym cost? Is it a lot more than mine? I’m sure it is, since everything in New York is so expensive. Do you use those ab machines? They look super painful to me. I keep seeing women using those weight ball things – I wonder how well they work…”

[time elapses]

Me: “Viv? Vivian? Hello? Are you still there?”

Vivian: “Oh, yeah. Sorry, I just zoned out for a minute. Jen, we’ve been talking about working out for the past twenty minutes, can we please change the subject?”

Exhibit D:

When I stopped by the bookstore yesterday, I set down my copies of Ms. Magazine and Mother Jones*, and instead bought the latest issues of Shape and Muscle and Fitness. Now, not only am I boring, but I’m not even a feminist anymore!

I spent some time this weekend plotting out a few data points, and discovered the shocking connection between IQ (Interesting Quotient™) and CMW (Cumulative Monthly Workouts). The results were alarming:


My research shows that the point of no return is around 14 workouts per month. Once you start to exercise more often than that, your Interesting Quotient™ will plunge to depths from which it may never rise. Even at a modest 8 workouts per month, the IQ™ drops dangerously close to dullard levels.

This, of course, begs the question: is it better to be fascinating and flabby or boring and healthy? There are so many sides to this complex debate – I don’t know. I guess I’ve got a lot of thinking to do. And blogging. Writing usually helps me clear my mind, and I’ve already got topics for the next few entries so I’d better start working on them.

Coming up next week on Run Jen Run:

Tuesday - Feel This. Does This Feel Like a Muscle to You?
Wednesday - Hey! The Orange Gatorade Isn’t Half Bad.
Friday - Point/Counterpoint: Cucumber Water v. Lemon Water
*In the interest of full disclosure, I have never actually read Mother Jones. But I do always pick it up when I’m at the bookstore. Oh, I also never got that root canal without Novocain, and I’m sorry for misleading Oprah and all her viewers.

27 Responses to “IQ™ Test”

  1. Postmodern Sass Says:

    Thank you, Jenny, for giving me the best reason yet never to join a gym. Once, many years ago, in another time, in another city, and in and another life, I belonged to a women-only health club. I used to go to step classes. That was before pilates, before spinning, and before yoga. (I don’t actually know what any of those things are, but I’ve heard the words and understand they have something to do with exercising.) Now, I live in a townhouse where I have to climb 26 steps to my front door, another 16 from the door into the house proper, and from the main floor, another 48 to the rooftop-level alcove where my tiny condo combo washer-dryer is located. So I no longer need to belong to a health club. If I want a workout, I just do laundry.

  2. asia Says:

    Where do I fall on that graph?? I best hit the bar rather then the gym today so I can work my way back up the scale of interesting. *sigh*

  3. jenny Says:

    PS: Glad I could help, and as long as you’re not doing laundry more than twice a week, you will still maintain your IQ.
    asia: Normally I would say that someone who runs half-marathons for fun is in real danger of losing their IQ permanently, but I think the quirky/creative part of your brain may be powerful enough to counteract the evil effects of exercise. But just to be safe, get thee to a bar, woman!

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    You’re doing 60lbs on the lat pull? And you just started working out? Good for you! And don’t worry, you’re Intelligence and Interesting Quotients are still high, as demonstrated by that chart, which to me looks only like a pretty design. Will you draw me a tattoo?

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    Apparently to further my implication that I am the meathead, not you, I used the wrong “you’re.” I meant “your.” Not good. Not good at all…

  6. Sarah Says:

    Amen to Vivian and the 60lbs thing…holy crap.
    I think that an unfortunate biproduct of making a commitment to physical fitness is that you start getting all sorts of other parts of your life in order too…and, well, order is kinda’ boring. They need to integrate all of the boring orderly stuff that you should be dedicated to doing with other stuff that can maintain some semblance of wild-and-crazy-dance-party-fun-girl-in-the-city-ness.
    Like put a gym in a club. Or have like group checkbook balancing parties that later turn into group sex parties. Or some kind of Roman public bath type thing where you bring all of your “hand wash only” laundry and a bottle of Woolite.
    Hmmm…I think I’ve gone too far with what might’ve been a good seed of an idea. My views of just how much fun I had while living in a real city are starting to become skewed by how incredibly lame it is here in the Detroit burbs.

  7. shari Says:

    But the trend reverses itself if you achieve more than 28 workouts in a month, right? RIGHT?? Gaaaaaaah! I’m irrevocably dull???
    ***shrugs shoulders, heads for the gym***

  8. jenny Says:

    Viv: Okay, now you and Sarah have me doubting myself. I’d better call my fact-checkers, because my notes were blurry from sweat and Vitamin Water. I’ll report back later this week…
    Sarah: group checkbook balancing parties that later turn into group sex parties…
    Gives a whole new meaning to “overdraft protection.” (I have no idea what I mean by that, but it sounded sexy.)
    Shari: Having seen your six-pack abs, I’m not gonna lie – I’m worried about you, Shari. I need you to promise me that you will consume single malt during at least 14 of those 28 days. Can you do that for me? For all of us?
    (and by the way – I don’t think you’re the least bit dull, but that only proves that there are exceptions to every rule. My study will still hold up in any scientific journal worth its salt.)

  9. Jessica Says:

    So THAT’S why all my clients seemed dull when I was a personal trainer?! Wow, Jenny, thanks for the revelation!

  10. nina Says:

    Your brain dies even faster when you spend hours in clinics attending to health care needs which could have been avoided with a few hours at the gym.
    Don’t turn off the gym. Just switch your reading matter.
    You’re plenty creative. You need not worry that your brain will fry.

  11. sandra Says:

    Jen, I’ve totally been there. I am fairly incapable of doing anything halfway, which means that when I’m working out, I’m obsessive…and when I’m not working out, I’m about 1/2 a step from injecting crappy food into my system. I’m rather balanced, eh?!

  12. Tracy Lynn Says:

    From the amount of exercise I get, I must be the single most interesting person on the planet.
    Oh, wait, maybe I’m just fat.

  13. The Scarlett Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    My ‘insiders’ at Oprah tell me that they are going to make you come on the show and they want you to confess to inaccuracies in your blog.
    And in the interest of disclosure, by ‘insiders’ I mean the subset of people that watch Oprah and read your blog (I was going to draw a snappy diagram but I lost interest).

  14. ashbloem Says:

    I find that tequila balances out the gym-going and keeps the IQ high.
    WOO HOO! TequilaCon!

  15. jenny Says:

    Jess: Well, you must have been a good personal trainer if all your clients were that dull!
    Nina: Switch my reading material? But the next issue of Muscle & Fitness is entirely dedicated to finding the perfect body oil to highlight the muscles during pose-offs. You expect me to miss out on that?
    Sandra: Tell me more about this idea of injecting crappy food into the veins. Can they, say, liquify Doritos? Mmmm…
    Tracy Lynn: See, that’s why I tell people that I’m not lazy, I’m just preserving my charm. ;)
    Scarlett: Please tell your insiders I’d be happy to. Because then even though I’m being publicly humiliated, sales of my book, err… blog, will skyrocket once again. Oprah gets to feel righteous, I get rich, everyone’s happy!
    Ash: Tequila truly is the great equalizer, isn’t it?

  16. peefer Says:

    Is it any coincidence that your plot of Interesting Quotient looks like a recumbent arse?
    Just wondering.

  17. StationeryQueen Says:

    You’re like workoutzilla (like brides consumed with their weddings). It happens. Something new = topic to bore others with ad nauseum. I do it, too, about my writing career. People are sick of me! Sick of me, I say!

  18. jaymarie Says:

    jenny –
    you rock.
    peefer –
    i love it that you said “arse” — that and
    “shat” are two of my favorites.

  19. Robert Says:

    This explains much about my life lately. The more miles I ride, the less I have to write about (other than ranting about asshole drivers, like today).

  20. jenny Says:

    Peef: Which part is the butt? The blue part or the pink part? I’m just not seeing it.
    SQ: I think I’m less like Workoutzilla and more like that flying turtle – Gamera. Because of my tough exterior. Deep down inside, I’m just soft and tasty in soup. Why won’t people get to know the real me?
    Jaymarie: Ha! I know – those Canadians are so dang classy with words like “arse” and “colour.” That’s why I love them so.
    Robert: I think drivers give bikers unlimited blog fodder…
    Oh, and just for the record (Viv and Sarah), it really was 60lbs on the lat pulldown thing. So I don’t think I should have to apologize to Oprah.

  21. trisha Says:

    You are extra funny.

  22. teahouseblossom Says:

    I’m back from vacation and I are super duper funny!!
    Euww..cucumber water!

  23. steph Says:

    I completely understand — I also am an unfortunate participant in the friday night workout.

  24. jenny Says:

    Trish: and how extra kind of you to say that!
    THB: Nooo! You don’t understand – cucumber water is the best thing ever. EVER! Try it – you’ll like it!
    steph: glad I’m not alone in my mania…

  25. romy Says:

    let me know when you find the happy medium, ok? so far, i just keep running into the small.
    /sighs, lacing running shoes

  26. mike Says:

    Thanks to this entry, you came to mind yesterday as I was staying over the 20-minute limit on the elliptical machine at my local gym. However, I only have 7 more passes left on my punch card, and then I can go back to being a lardass and judging all you gym-rats.

  27. Terence Cho Says:

    Yeah, my life is consumed by the gym too. Worse is that my life is consumed by Equinox gym in particular. My life revolves around Equinox.