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Battle of the Sexes: Apple Watch Edition


A friendly hike or cutthroat competition?

There are few things my husband and I agree on. He’s the maximalist to my minimalist, the city boy to my crunchy-granola backpacker. For fifteen years, we’ve existed in a complex web of truces, overlooking the things we disagree on, in an attempt to focus on our shared loves.


Of all our common philosophies, one stands out as my favorite: There is nothing that cannot be improved by a little competition.


Tom is an Apple devotee, and has proudly sported the Apple Watch since its inception. Recently, this little gadget introduced a competition feature, allowing users to go head-to-head for a week, battling for the longest workouts and most calories burned. Previously, I'd never gotten into the calorie-counting hype. Tracking my workouts took away from the mind-clearing benefits of plowing through the woods, unhindered by the incessant tapping of a timepiece as it informs me I’ve logged another mile. Still, I’m a sucker for a chance to crush a opponent. Or, occasionally, be crushed myself. Without further ado, I strapped on my watch. Challenge accepted.


An avid cyclist, I commute by bicycle nearly everywhere within a fifteen mile radius. In the California sunshine, this is often the most enjoyable part of my day. In our short rainy-season, it’s a decidedly more miserable task. The first day of our competition, I had to pick up an easel across town, over ten miles from home. I looked longingly at my car, a small fortress against the wind and rain. My watch tapped my wrist, informing me that Tom had just completed his first workout, earning several points toward victory. Nobody ever said winning would be easy, so with a sigh, I pulled on my raincoat and straddled my bike, darting out into the freezing rain.


Hours later, I returned; drenched, shivering, with an aluminum easel strapped to my back. Somehow I’d managed not only to stay upright in the gale, but to keep the easel’s metal legs from scratching cars as I sailed past. I checked my watch and I saw I’d been able to tie Tom’s progress, a good enough victory for the day. At this rate, I’d be lucky if I survived the week without catching pneumonia.


The following morning dawned gray and dreary. Already, heavy gusts were knocking branches and debris into the street.


“Not the best day for a ride,” Tom remarked, glancing out the window. “You should just drive today.”


I peeked outside, assessing the situation. I could drive to work, safely ensconced in my car, and miss out on all those sweet, sweet burned calories. Or, I could venture out into the storm, unprotected against the California drivers, who lose all sense of control the moment a raindrop hits their windshield.


As if sensing my thoughts, Tom said, “You can make it up later. Just work out when you get home.”


His words were all the encouragement I needed. I grabbed my car keys and drove to work, basking in the feel of a commute that didn’t leave a trail of muddy tire-splatter up my back. But my feeling of cozy contentment morphed into alarm as a stream of notifications popped up on my wrist.


Tom has completed a workout.


Tom has earned a new fitness award.


Tom has a new move record.


How had I not seen it before? The gentle encouragement to leave my bike behind wasn’t an act of kindness, but sabotage! Tom’s workplace included a plush gym, with every machine imaginable and an array of amenities to make the workout process highly enjoyable. The most my workplace offered was a (currently rain-drenched) staircase up to my office. My only defense against this assault was to complete sets of push-ups and squats between clients, but it wasn’t enough.


I watched, aghast, as his numbers eclipsed mine. He was taking full advantage of my predicament. Outside, my car no longer looked like a safe haven, but a symbol of my gullibility. I vowed that come hell or high water, (hopefully not too high) I was riding that damn bike to victory.


Back home, Tom’s smug grin was all the motivation I needed. “I’m beating you,” he said, unable to hide the laughter in his eyes. “By a lot.”


The following day, I was back on the bicycle, dodging drivers who were blinded by the pouring rain. As wind gusts threatened to topple me, I could only smile, thinking of all the extra calories I was burning just to stay upright. One bad day couldn’t throw me off track. I was determined to fight back, to write off the previous day as giving him a good-natured head start—


Tom has a new exercise record.


Tom has earned a new award.


How was this possible? I scrolled through his records, a solid stream of running, yoga, and weightlifting. It was as if he’d devoted his entire day to the competition, meetings and office hours be damned.


At work, I rushed into a set of panicked squats, realizing that even with my bike commute, I was falling farther behind.


“New Year’s resolution?” a coworker asked.


I shook my head. “Destroying Tom,” I gasped.


“Oh…well alright then. Best of luck.”


By the following day, I had fallen far behind, unable to keep pace with his steady stream of gym time. “How is he doing this?” I asked, completely exasperated. By my rough calculations, after subtracting the amount of time spent on his workouts, Tom would have approximately seventeen minutes a day for his actual job.


“He works at a tech company,” my coworker answered. “It’s not like they do any real work there.”


For the rest of the week, I was a woman obsessed. I ran, hiked, biked, and filled every possible moment with some form of grueling exercise, desperate not to give Tom the sweet satisfaction of victory. My fingers pruned from biking in the rain, and my legs and arms screamed from overexertion. Finally, the day of reckoning was upon us. I opened my phone and scrolled down to our final points tally.


Winner: Tom


I let out a groan, both from disappointment and severe muscle pain. All of that hard work, just to end in failure. I was no match for Tom and his pristine tech-company gym. I sank onto our bed, letting the soft comforter envelop my aching body.


Just then, Tom emerged from the bathroom, freshly showered and wrapped only in a towel. Veins stood out on his newly sculpted arms. His waist had been whittled down, exposing the hard muscles he'd been building all week. Even his face looked toned, his sharp jawline silhouetted in the doorway. The transformation he'd undergone in just one week was astounding.


"What're you staring at?" he asked, suddenly self conscious.


I could only shake my head and smile. Even with my competitive side smarting from the loss, I had to admit, losing this particular challenge certainly had its upsides.


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© 2018 Poe Casavant