Marolt: How many calories do you burn wasting time?

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt

I now understand why I used to hate shoveling the driveway. It is hard work!

Duh, you say. But, I don’t mean it in the sense that it is the drudgery that must be taken care of before heading to the slopes on a powder day. I mean it is like Marine Corp ropes-course exhausting; like if you feel lightheaded or dizzy while you are shoveling, stop immediately and consult your physician, which is the same advice they put on treadmills and Stairmasters and probably those precursors to Pilates contraptions they used in Medieval times to stretch you in four directions until you were sure it wasn’t just ordinary muscle pain that a couple of aspirin could knock out.

I figured this all out, not through sincere contemplation while deeply massaging my ruined deltoid muscles after an hour-long driveway grudge match with the shovel, but with my new watch. It is not an ordinary watch. It is one of the new kinds that shoots bright green light into your skin which non-surgically extracts biometric information to gauge the quality of your workout. It was a gift from a “friend.”

Do you, like me, pine for the days when you actually had to wait until the next day, sometimes two, to see how sore your muscles were to figure out how good your workout was? If you exercised a few days in a row, you could only guess which routine did the trick. I don’t know how long it will take to get used to this age of instant gratification where I have been promised great things if I swipe the touch screen of my watch while training to see if it is doing any good.

But, that’s not the point. What I meant to tell you is that shoveling my driveway the other morning after six or eight inches of snow fell overnight turned out to be the most intense workout I have had in the several months that I have owned my new watch.

Shoveling the driveway is harder than yoga. No surprise there. It’s harder than weightlifting. It’s harder than a day of skiing. It’s even harder than the Super High Intensity Training workout I do for Lenten penance and that I get butterflies in my stomach thinking about. Shoveling the driveway is freaking brutal. My watch told me it will take 39 hours to recover from the latest round of it.

But, something magical happens after you set down the shovel, look out over the clean driveway, slip off the ice-encrusted gloves and download your workout onto the app that syncs with your smartwatch. Seeing the energy you just exerted converted into graphs and statistical analysis has a wholly positive effect on the human psyche that sweat rings and a back ache never could.

The app even mapped my movements around the driveway, producing an Arthur Murryesque ballroom dance diagram of my efforts. In a moment of colorful graphics blasting through my smartphone, I was transformed from a manual laborer into an elite (ish) athlete! This amazing watch turned snow shoveling into a sporting competition. I will shovel harder, faster, deeper next storm. It’s enough to make me wonder if the inventors of curling had a watch like mine.

I can’t get enough of this watch. Way back before the snow fell, when skiing was really lousy, I was doing laps on FIS run next to Lift 6 just because that is where the fewest rocks were. I did seven laps. How do I know this? No, I did not count them in order to reach some arbitrary and meaningless vertical foot goal (although, my watch said these laps amounted to 4,912 vertical feet). I didn’t find out until I got home and looked at the graphs and map that my watch produced of the outing.

The thing that jumped out was how my heart rate spiked into the old-man danger zone at the end of each nonstop run and then dropped back to fully recovered normal on the short lift ride back up. It looked exactly like I had done an interval training routine on the treadmill at the rec center. Voila! Another idiotic way to exercise was imagined and then realized!

This new watch has thrown my world out of orbit. It turns work into play and play into work. The good news is that I can receive text messages on it doing both. At least it’s not a complete waste of time.

Roger Marolt remembers the days when watches were all about analog instead of workout log. Email at