Thoughts as I contemplate working out at philosophy conferences (Guest post)

by Alison Reiheld

1) Can I combine exercise with seeing the local historic and cultural sights, or will exercise mean missing out?

2) I despise comparing my fitness to other people so it is important that I not work out in a group, which means I have to trade socializing for working out unless I can find time for both.

3) Suppose I use the conference hotel fitness center or walk into the hotel sweaty sweaty and in spandex. What do I do if/when I run into academics who I very much want to respect me for my mind, but who would be reminded that I have a body?

4) Is it only philosophers who worry about this last one, and might take a reminder of embodiment as an indicative of lack of intellectual rigor?

4a) Am I being uncharitable towards my peers?

5) Maybe I want them to notice my active lifestyle given that I am presenting on (in part my own) fatness.

6) This feels like a trap.

7) I hate traps.

8) Sweat in the air, don’t care. Putting on my best exercise gear. Let’s do this.


Alison is a fulltime feminist, full-on philosopher, part-time lifter of heavy things, sometime runner, and perpetual motion machine.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts as I contemplate working out at philosophy conferences (Guest post)

  1. You have me thinking about what I’ll do for fitness at the MLA. I’m not at the conference hotel, and was planning on jogging, except it’s not as good weather as I was expecting. I may just walk a lot and do yoga.

  2. I often work out in the hotel gym when I’m at an academic conference. And sometimes I run into colleagues there, or in the elevator on my way. Why should this be a problem? Of course they know I have a body! (Maybe it is only philosophers who think about that.) And I sometimes envy another gym-goer’s abilities (a weight-training classmate was a former varsity gymnast), but so what?

  3. I’ve had similar thoughts at librarian conferences, and have found myself surprised by who I ran into at the hotel fitness center. One year, I even ended up partnering with a colleague to do the “fun run” 5K together on an early conference morning simply because we were working at about the same pace on the hotel treadmills the days before. Early morning workouts seem to do best for my conferences, though one of them tends to have breakfast meetings which require an even earlier morning start.

  4. I love this. As I prepare to go to India I contemplate an even more basic question: should I even bother to pack my workout gear?

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