I Miss Reading At the Gym

Kit Steinkellner

Staff Writer

Kit Steinkellner is a playwright, screenwriter, and creative writing teacher. She also writes about books and reading  at Books Are My Boyfriends. Follow her onTwitter: @BooksAreMyBFs

This year I started my New Year’s Resolutions on December 1st because I wanted to get in a month of practice before the new year happened and this resolutions-thing got serious. One of my resolutions (along with everyone else in the western world) is to be stronger, healthier, fitter, less fat, you pick your synonym. So this December, I hit the gym harder than I’ve been hitting it in months past (some months, not at all, the horror, the shame!).

To my surprise, the worst thing about going to the gym this month hasn’t been my trainer’s overwhelming disappointment in my core muscles or my arms being so sore the day after weights that the next day I can barely pick up my phone to see what’s going on in the literary Twitterverse. Those are all very no-good, very bad things, don’t get me wrong, but the worst thing about training hard is that gym time is no longer reading time.

I used to LOVE reading on the elliptical/stationary bike. It was like reading at the DMV or the dentist’s office, you’re doing something you don’t want to do but you get to READ while you’re doing it, so it’s almost okay. Almost.

I just can’t fit books into my new workout regime. You can’t hold a book while you’re lifting weights, your hands are too full of weights! You try listening to an audiobook while doing Zumba or spin class, YOU try it.

Yes, I can still technically read on a stationary bike or elliptical, yes, that option is still available, but now that my trainer is insisting I max up the resistance while on these machines, I can’t concentrate on my audiobook. My muscles are hollering at the tops of their lungs and there is no audiobook narrator in the world loud enough to shout over my physical pain. So yes, I can technically still read at the gym, but with the new regimen, I’m not going to absorb any information in any real, meaningful way, and if I can’t do that, then really, what’s the point of reading?

As much as I miss reading at the gym, I know this change in my workout regimen is for the best. The reason I liked reading at the gym was because it kept my mind off all the sweat and pain. But I’m starting to realize that the sweat and pain is kind of the point, and I need to be as intellectually engaged as I am physically in order to make the most of my gym time. When I keep my brain out of the workout equation, I half-ass the workout. Like it or not (and sometimes it’s definitely NOT) I need to be a hundred percent present when it comes to getting healthy and strong.

I still get to listen to audiobooks in the car, while running boring errands, even when I’m walking to the gym. But once I get through those sliding doors, the gloves come off, and so do the earbuds.

What about you guys? Have you found a way to incorporate reading into getting healthy and strong? How? Tell me? I really want to know!!


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