Lets stop pretending exercise is fun. Like work, youve just got to do it | Barbara Ellen


Talk of endorphins simply builds up false expectations of the thrill of working out

Heres a harsh truth about fitness that you dont often hear exercise sucks. For some of us anyway. I envy those people I see posting online about their completed half-marathons, with messianic zeal (I feel so alive!). For people like myself, theres no redemptive endorphin rush. Exercising is just a repetitive bore to be dreaded and endured. If a Slendertone-thingy machine actually did the same job with electronic pads, as I sprawled on the sofa watching Lindsay Lohans Beach Club, Id sell my childrens kidneys to buy it. Worst of all, tedious though it is, for most, exercise is beyond beneficial, its vital health, wellbeing, weight, the lot so we slackers just have to park our bad attitudes and crack on.

Theres a giant con at the heart of exercise that is, a lot of effort goes into hard-selling it as FUN!, when, for many people, it frankly isnt. Right now, theres a backlash against enterTRAINment (see what they did there), where people are enticed into boutique gyms to do classes that are new, trendy, fusion-themed high-intensity hula-hooping or whatever. One argument is that, in this climate, anything that gets people into gyms is great, but others think that people would be better off with low-key targeted workouts. All very interesting, but maybe its fundamentally counterproductive to keep pushing this idea that exercise per se is supposed to be fun. Why not just tell people the truth: its a relentless boring nightmare and youre going to have to do it anyway.

Having given up on gyms (long story, involving much gormless wandering with a water bottle), Ive a cross-trainer at home. All I have to do is pull on some stretchy clobber the athleisure revolution passed me by and trainers, probably made around the time of Lets Get Ready to Rhumble, and just get on the damn thing. And yet, still I have to force myself. Why? Because Im bone idle and exercise-resistant, like many others. Thats why exercise has to disguise itself and pretend to be FUN!. Away from very serious issues relating to obesity, exercise-resistance could also partly explain the enduring popularity of ludicrous restrictive diets. Healthy eating is one thing, relentless dieting to avoid exercise, quite another.

Perhaps its time to stop fetishising fitness and tell the brutal, depressing truth: Youre going to need an iPod, something stretchy and a pair of trainers that will eventually smell like Steven Seagal looks. Sometimes its hard to stay motivated. Tough. Exercising is pointless unless you keep it up, so stop bitching. (PS: everyone dies.) Perhaps this approach (Hate every second, do it anyway) would at least put fitness where it belongs and stop people becoming disheartened about their endorphins refusing to rush. If those like myself have more realistic expectations, then we might just get it to work.

When will Roseanne Barr learn that she is her own worst enemy?

Roseanne Barr: too arrogant and embittered? Photograph: Craig Ruttle/AP

Is Roseanne Barr ever going to get real? Her 2018 tweet, likening former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett (of European and African-American descent) to an ape, resulted in Barr being axed from the rebooted Roseanne. (It continued as The Connors.) Now Barr has berated co-star Sara Gilbert for tweeting at the time that Barrs remarks were abhorrent and did not reflect the views of the cast. She destroyed the show and my life, says Barr. She will never get enough until she consumes my liver with a fine chianti.

Far from being some malevolent Hannibal Lecter figure, Gilbert is an accomplished actress, who was horrified by Barrs racist tweet. Barr also previously blamed her downfall on the drug Ambien (making her do weird stuff) and has accused the biased media of attacking her for being a Donald Trump supporter.

Is Barr, a huge favourite of mine, back in the day, just too arrogant and embittered to accept the truth that she alone made her appalling remark and that she alone is responsible for everything that happened afterwards?

Time is supposed to give people much needed perspective and clarity about their actions clearly Barr missed that memo.

Mums making porn is no answer to a complex issue

Jane, Sarah, Emma, Sarah-Louise and Anita on Mums Make Porn. Photograph: Channel 4 Television/Emma/Channel 4 images/Dave King

What point is Channel 4s new Mums Make Porn documentary series trying to make? The mothers (making a porn film, not appearing in it) seem understandably concerned about the effect of easily available hardcore porn on their children. However, since when was the answer to concerns over porn making yet more porn? And why is there the presumption that women making the porn makes everything OK?

There have been previous attempts to make empowered, female-led erotica, but just taking away the male-centric aspect (usually portrayed as sadistic and degrading) doesnt make porn acceptable. Just as being a parent doesnt necessarily give people an insight into the best way to sexually commodify another human being.

The mum porn may be less dehumanising and feature more assertive females, but its still porn. These artists may be happy and validated (and paid and safe), but the wider porn industry continues to directly abuse innumerable people, both adults and children.

Respectful mum porn isnt likely to change any of this, though it may inadvertently help legitimise it. Theres the issue of how far theyre prepared to go, when the industry has its dial stuck on hardcore-XXX. And while the point seems to be to make (caring, sharing?) porn that they could, say, watch with their teenage children, a greater test might be to feel comfortable about your son or daughter appearing in your porn film. If thats unacceptable, then why is it fine for other peoples children to do it?

The devastating effects of porn on young minds is a complicated, ever-unfolding debate only recently, there was a report about high numbers of young men suffering erectile dysfunction. So all credit to the mothers for being concerned and proactive, but this naive, clumsy effort isnt the answer.

Barbara Ellen is an Observer columnist

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