When it comes to exercising, most of us will simply wear our oldest sport pants – the same outfit we´ve had since high school – and wait for the tiniest excuse to postpone. Isn´t it always too cold outside anyways? Maybe we stretch one arm, or lift one leg, but let´s face it: the name for this is ´motion´, not ´training´.
Sports-wise, Danish people live in another galaxy. To start with, they actually DO sport on a regular basis (not only the first three days of January). They wake up earlier in the morning for it – meaning they chose sport over sleep and sex. Exercising is a priority – a curiosity that I thought was only true for professional athletes or prisoners.
Another thing is that Danish sport addicts (everyone from pregnant women to my 190-year-old neighbour) really push themselves – they´re serious about their pulse, and every run seems to be a run for their life. They don´t pretend. You probably noticed, since the tendons of their neck are sticking out like in ´The Exorcist´.
But the worst part is that they seem to genuinely enjoy the effort.
Let´s take a few seconds here to talk about the relationship between the Danes and masochism. What the hell is wrong with those people? They jump in the sea during winter “because it feels so good afterwards”. They don´t wear jackets outside “because it will make them feel warmer inside”.
I translate: the Danes are willing to endure agonising pains, just for the pleasure of it to end at some point.
But let´s come back to sports. While we only need our old sweater to take a run, the typical Dane needs: a mobile app tracking every detail of the performance, some music, 12 reflective stripes, vitamin water + protein shake + first-aid kit, an aggressive baby stroller (three wheels, mud protection, wind protection, bazooka embedded) and colourful clothes. When a Dane takes a run on a sunny day, you can spot him 20 kilometres away.
So what´s going on here? Where are the shy Danes? Is sport supposed to compensate the everyday colour-blindness? It makes sense: after long grey days spent in grey suits and grey dresses, the Danes dream of feeling like Lady GaGa. They surrender to their inner drag-queen. That´s quite cool, since public parks look like a giant disco party.
For exercising we dress down, but they dress up. We look like hobos, they look like they want everyone to stare at their so-visible bottom curves – which I oblige myself to do, but only because I´m compliant.
And so, now, as expats, what are we supposed to do? Embrace the pain and go for the neon total-look? Or be ourselves: lazy, unconcerned, reading magazines? I tend to consider my own exercise as a tax I pay for my integration. If I run twice a week, not too hard, mostly lurking at people, then I´ve done my duty. The Danish athletes feel good about themselves because I´m so slow, and I comfort myself with their crazy looks. Isn’t it fair?