7 Minutes in Hell

workout 7When I went to the doctor with heel, calf, knee, neck, and back pain, I was fairly certain that my career as a long-distance runner was about to be put on hold.

Sure enough, when I told him I was a runner, he shook his head and said, “No.”


“You should swim instead. Running is giving you these problems.”

Translation: You are forty and your body hates you.

Despite the fact that I used to look for excuses to get out of physical activity, I was truly bummed. Running was a way to keep active, clear my mind, and keep me from needing a muumuu and a motorized scooter with a Home of the Whopper decal on the side.

I needed to do something physical to counterbalance my predilection for hotdogs, pizza, Irish Whiskey, and couch.

And yet, I knew swimming wasn’t it. Oh, swimming is fun, and you can sometimes trick yourself into feeling like you’re at summer camp. But swimming not only involves being almost naked in public, it involves being almost naked in public while exercising. Plus, there’s my odd back hair patterns to consider and the fact that swimming involves urine, only some of which is mine.

When a friend suggested I try something called the 7 Minute Workout, I slightly scoffed. Slightly, because anything involving the word workout can make me its prison bitch, it was the 7 Minute portion that got my scoff. Still, after reading about it and losing a key battle in the war against the belt notches, I decided to give it a go.

The 7 Minute Workout consists of twelve exercises that you are almost surely familiar with, including abdominal crunches, pushups, a wall sit, running in place. All of these you can do at home, needing only a chair, a wall, your body weight, and, depending on your condition, a phone pre-dialed to 911.

The idea works on what’s called “high intensity interval training” which in layman’s terms means doing different exercises for short intense periods with brief rests in between.

In out-of-shape chump terms, it means: holy frick this fricking sucks!

About a month ago I could no longer rationalize putting off a workout that takes seven minutes, so I tried it for the first time. I found a timer on the internet and locked myself away from the cat, whose interference would have been imminent and bloody.

Seven minutes, I thought, I can do this. While I blacked out for most of the workout, here are the highlights.

Jumping jacks are harder than I remember them being before football practice. Granted, I was thirteen then and had something we like to call “energy.”

Wall sits are a teasing mockery of my favorite activity: sitting. Of course, there is no chair. The only way to make this more of a torturous tease would be to add a mock pie eating contest to it.

There’s a thing called a plank. And, um, you don’t want to do one.

Running in place is harder than you think (don’t tell my doctor I’m running); and then there are the lunges, squats, triceps dips, and other thirty-second implements of torture.

At the end of the first workout, I decided to lie on the floor and meditate on the pros and cons. Plus, I needed to learn how to breathe again. The negatives were all superficial: it’s hard, not as pleasant as a run, my downstairs neighbor already hated me. I can’t remember the positives, because I passed out shortly thereafter.

But now, a month later, the negatives are far outweighed by the positives. It’s extremely time-efficient. It only takes seven minutes, even now when I do a double session and stretch it’s still only twenty minutes from start to finish. It’s done at home, old lady neighbor be damned. I think I am developing an ab. Plus, I often find loose change during my post-workout meditation-weeping sessions.

And at the moment I am winning the war of the belt notches.

In case you are interested. Here are the links to the New York Times article on the 7 Minute Workout and the workout timer.


Comments are closed.