I recently posted on my personal Facebook page about the Pokemon freakishness currently underway in so many countries, mine included. It’s not even available officially in Canada yet,  but apparently there are ways around that. Lovely.

I wrote about an incident that happened to me on Friday July 15th. I wrote it mainly as a rebuttal to all the defensive posts written about Pokemon from grown ass adults giving the reason that they were “poking” was because it was exercise! I also wrote it because I was in Angry Running Gail (ARG) mode. Probably more of the latter than the former. Here’s how that went down, word by precise word on my page:

I want to put paid to the theory that this Pokemon Go is great because it gets you and your kids outdoors; walking, and exercising. I call bullcrap. And by the way, if you’re an adult doing this, you need to reconsider how you adult.

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I like to run in the heat. It toughens me up. Once again, I ran today and bumped into people doing this Pokemon escape from reality shit. I can assure everyone reading that no exercise is taking place, unless you count walking slowly with your head down, oblivious to your surroundings so you can muck up someone’s run, exercise. If so, SCORE!!

This afternoon I had planned a 5km all out push of a run, followed by one kilometre of body weight exercise on park benches, as in run to each bench and perform different body weight exercises. In Bronte we are lucky enough to have a one kilometre stretch of park benches that suits my workout strategy perfectly.

During my all out, push it to the max 5km run, I ran into a gaggle of Pokemon people. I was running towards them. They were coming towards me, in a large swath. Not one of those idjits looked up to ensure their surroundings were safe.

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Fantastically accurate, except the flamingos have much better posture….

So…..for shits and giggles, you pick the action I took upon encountering these oblivious cretins.

1. I completely bypassed them by giving them a wide berth, but at the same time putting myself in danger of oncoming traffic. I’m a giver, though.

2. I stopped to talk to them to try and reason with them that what they were doing was very dangerous and, quite frankly, rude to the people they share the planet, and the sidewalks, with. I mean, they were adults. Why on earth should I assume they have manners and self awareness? They need to be coddled and hugged. I’m such a mediator, though.

3. I shouted really loudly, with possibly a strident tone to my voice, and told them to take their heads out of their asses and to pay attention to the world around them because I was coming through!!

You choose.

By the way, my time for my 5km was 24:45. My pace obviously slowed once I got to my intervals. No Pokemon fool was going to come between me and my training.

Well, that was fun and cathartic for me to write, but it stirred up some minor controversy on my page about what exercise is. The back and forth was, for the most part, very low key and respectful but it did not change my mind as to the fact that this Pokemon Go is not an athletic endeavor. It is not exercise. It is not mindful. It is not athletic based. It is not a cardiovascular endurance event. It does not fall under muscle conditioning. Noperdoodles. To say that Pokemon Go is exercise is like saying the Islamic Terror Attack in Nice was caused by a truck. Technically you might be walking around but you are not stressing your heart. Technically the truck killed people, but it wasn’t a Michael Bay imagined evil transformer. Mind you, if you look to The New York Times as your news touchstone, you could not be blamed for thinking that it was Truck Terrorism, but I digress….

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I know this is going to cause some readers to have an overwhelming need to let me know that they think I am utterly and magnificently wrong in my conclusions about Pokemon Go, but I am letting you know right now, that I will not be swayed by your arguments if they are based on emotion and not facts. Otherwise, I am always glad to hear opposing or differing points of view.

Listen, if you are someone who is passionate about your Pokemon Go, good for you. Just don’t call it your workout, because you would be delusional. If, as an adult, that is what you are giving as your reason for walking around like a cast member from The Walking Dead, then you just need to stop. Please. Stop.

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Just own it, please. Don’t be like the cliched pushing forty year old man that wants to shove aside his wife and two children for a younger vagina, and then fabricates a story about being victimized in a loveless marriage because he thinks that people will more easily swallow his behavior. Don’t weave a web of lies. Just own up to the fact that you like the game and you play it because you want to. Not for the cardiovascular benefits of which there are next to none. It’s OKAY!! While most of us think of Pokemon Go as a game that children might find fun, if it is something that you want to do, just do it. Don’t justify it as a way to train for that marathon though.tumblr_oa6li4pDQq1vpf6z9o1_1280

Listen, if I had to parse it down, I’d have to admit that getting outside and playing Pokemon Go is better at promoting health and wellness than sitting on a couch playing Warcraft. It’s pretty much on the same level as saying that two bowls of chocolate chip ice cream is better at keeping you fit and trim than four bowls. It’s not the best solution, but it could work. Not for me, but maybe for you.

It’s also a fantastic option for those people that have a chronic illness that prevents them from participating in proper exercise. I would totally support someone getting out to play this game if it is an intrinsic motivator for them. Honestly, if the thought of a walk for the sake of a walk does not motivate you and Pokemon Go does, then I’m OK with that, except for this one teeny tiny thing that niggles at me because I am an annoying fitness person……..POOR FORM!

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Unfortunately for Pokemon Go users, there is not a exercise in the world that involves poor posture, a downwards head tilt, inattentiveness and a complete focus on a bloody phone. You certainly cannot call Pokemon Go cardiovascular in nature, and if you argue it is because you are using roller blades (hello? The nineties are calling and want their skates back) or a bike, then I’d call you irresponsible for careening towards someone with your eyes glued to a screen! You also cannot call it muscular conditioning because even though that iPhone keeps getting larger, it’s not as heavy as that brick that might fall on you as you wander through a construction zone.

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Yes, I know it seems like I am disparaging the game, but that’s because I am and that’s why it’s coming across that way. I just cannot get excited for a game that has sent participants falling off cliffs and made them victims of crime. Police forces have even issued warnings about possible dangerous situations that people should not even have to be warned about because they should have the common sense that the good Lord gave them! Your mileage may vary on this, though, and again, that’s okie dokie pokie with me. (See what I did there?) Perhaps you are a parent that actually likes to spend time with their child and this turns out to be a good way to connect. Yay!!! Just don’t call it exercise. Call it what it is…spending time with your kid while hunched over.

Let’s say that none of my arguments that Pokemon Go is NOT exercise still fall flat with you because, you reason, you are walking. You almost had me there. Walking is actually the type of exercise I prescribe the most. Not just for the actual mobility benefits, but for the perks of being outside, breathing in fresh air, getting vitamin D and the psychological benefits of being out and about. Pokemon Go does not quite fall into that slot for me because the pace is too slow, the body alignment is terrible with the scrunching over of shoulders and the neck placement. As well, for me, when I prescribe exercise, I want the person to be completely aware of not just their surroundings, but of getting their heart rate up, even a little. You can do this when you walk. You’re not doing that with Pokemon Go.

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The herd of people I ran into on July 15th were not paying attention one little bit to the world around them. Is every player that way? Probably not, BUT the game is super immersive, so I have got to believe that a vast majority are behaving in this manner. I will, as a fitness professional, argue to the end that this is NOT exercise for the average person. It simply isn’t. Is it better than staying inside? Yep, but to qualify as exercise, in my book, it has to be mindful. Every person I have observed playing this game is walking, but they are walking slowly, with terrible posture and form. When I run, I run with awareness. I am looking around, listening and am prepared for pretty much anything. I did not see that on July 15th, and that was what my rant was about.

As my cousin in Australia wrote so eloquently on my FB page: But what I don’t get (and granted I am not a member of the Pokemon generation) is why you NEED this to get out and about? Why can’t the motivation for a walk come from desire for fresh air, nature and general well being, and why can’t it be done without a device? I’ve been running recently even Garmin-free and iPod free, just for the love of being outside and breathing and living. We are so dependent on gadgets and devices these days (and I am a total technophile so I get it) and now we even need our phones to get us out of the house?? People are going to be so divided on this, and true, I haven’t tried it so maybe shouldn’t knock it, and my hope is that once the craze dies down (which it will, let’s face it – it’s a fad) people will STILL want to get out and about. I just find it sad that at Circular Quay, where you can enjoy Sydney’s most iconic views, people are missing this to enter the land of the imaginary. We look down enough as it is. Let’s get out, look up, look around, enjoy what’s real and what’s there for the taking because we are so lucky to have a reality that is safe and free. I’ll leave it there.

Yes, let’s just leave it there…..

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Circular Quay. Sydney, Australia. Breathtaking.

 

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