The Five Stages of Angercise

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Angercise, you know, is exercising to get rid of pent-up rage… but what, wonders Thando Ndabezitha, if the physical discomfort of exercise also makes you angry?

My life flashed before my eyes. Then surrender washed over me as I surreptitiously adjusted my resistance to zero.

This near-death experience, like so many a near-death experience, stemmed from a simple misunderstanding. Having recently taken my winter coats out in preparation for the cooler weather, I realised that not a single coat closed at the front.

That was enough motivation to get me out of bed at 5am the very next morning to go to what I thought would be a 45-minute spinning class beginning at 5.45am.

Sure enough, by 6.25am, I was ready to cool down when I realised in a lightning-fast second of bloodcurdling horror that the instructor was showing no signs of slowing down.

That is when it dawned on me: “This is a one-hour class. And I am going to die in this saddle.”

If you are a resentful, curmudgeonly exerciser like me, you need a psychological plan that works, repeatedly, to manage your angercise and keep you motivated. However long the exercise session, these five psychological steps help to make it bearable.

Irascibility

I cannot stand an instructor who is also a motivational coach. “YOU CAN DO IT!” “Mind over matter!” “Don’t give up now. Just remember you are doing this for the person you want to become,” and other truisms of such nature make me gag.

Trust me, Jonathon, I would not have made time in my schedule and used precious fuel in this economy to drive here if I were not motivated already. This is what the irascible me thinks when the last 20 minutes of an exercise feels like eternal purgatory. Let this irritation wash over you…

Death

There is a point when my mind and spirit pass over into a place where they are shielded from pain. It is a feeling that exists only in the body, as my mind and spirit have checked out, leaving the body to deal with corporeal suffering. This too is a necessary step, but it will also pass.

Hopelessness

Here, thoughts like, “So this is how I am going to die: in an indoor cycling class,” creep into my mind, unfiltered by reason.

Because I am too proud to stop and get off that bike before the instructor says the class is over, I stay put, albeit at the least resistance possible, praying to die in a gym having maintained a modicum of composure till the end. At this stage just remember, hopelessness is a necessary part of beating angercise.

Incredulity

“This instructor is still going?!” enters my mind as lucidity slowly starts to come back – as does the feeling in my legs and glutes. I glance at the wall clock, wondering if it is perhaps a few minutes slow. Nothing about this situation feels real as I come back from death.

At this point, there is nothing the instructor says that I will believe. “We are going to do five last sprints of 60 seconds each, then rest for 10 seconds in between, for this last song,” they yell. “Lies,” I think. “Those 60 seconds will be 120 seconds, and we just won’t know any better.” Here, just remember: after incredulity comes invincibility.

Invincibility

“I stayed on the bike and never stopped spinning. I am pretty amazing, actually and could do this again tomorrow,” say the dopamine chemicals in my brain as the cool-down begins.

“This was actually super-easy!” Reaching this stage is its own reward, and the only feeling that could come anywhere close to it is the feeling of fitting into an expensive coat that you last wore five winters ago.

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