Friday, 15 April 2011

Learning to love the Gym - I can't, I just can't!

This week I decided enough of the excuses, I'm taking the gym seriously. The future Husband had also given me the ultimatum: - either use it or lose it! Last week I failed to go once, I blame the whole Come Dine With Me experience but mentioning that wouldn't have done me any favours. "Yes darling, I didn't go to the Gym, which you kindly pay for, sacrificing other luxuries like Tropicana Orange Juice, because I was too busy pissing about make trial deserts, fortune cookies and writing limericks for a dinner party you weren't invited to."

Instead, I decided, actions speak louder than words! And they definitely do!  After an all or nothing session yesterday, my muscles are making their overworked presence known. *Ache.Grimace.Ache.Grimace*

The muscle pain I can deal with, but it’s the logistics of trying to get a session in that's the real killer. It takes all the will power I contain to make the decision to go, but then you've got to battle with all those excuses, of all the reasons you can’t go, that just fall on top of you. Today is a particular challenge as we're off visiting relatives today so a session’s going to be tough; packing not quite finished, house not quite tidy, children not quite compliant! Let’s be honest it’s not looking hopeful, but on a positive note I am writing this in my badly fitting gym gear and trainers, so you know, progress! But, really, I must go and the burning of calories is just a bonus, the real desire is to attain material for this blog: there's some really crazy gym goers out there! Next time, take out the earphones, avert your eyes from the plasmas... open your mind; it’s a whole Matrix experience!

The gym truly is an awful place. I don't care what the gym bunnies and gym buffs say - it is! My gym is a public gym - I guess it's different if you're rich and swanky and can afford one in your own house. But for us regular people ,who go to the council's very own leisure centres (whilst they are still standing), then it is quite bizarre that we (me and the bunnies and buffs) exchange cash for the experience.

There are so many unwritten rules as well, here’s just a few I’ve got a grasp of already... but I am well aware I’ve got a long way to go:
1.      Always look at the Plasmas. Even when wearing headphones or if you’re directly under them. That is where your eyes should be.
2.      Small talk is forbidden
3.      Wipe and spray your machine – even if you haven’t broken into a sweat. A gent didn’t yesterday, and the lady in the machine next to him (because sometimes you actually have to get in them) actually gasped
4.      The urinal rule – only weirdoes don’t leave a gap! E.g There’s 6 cross trainers free, you’re on one of them and somebody gets on the one next to you. Weird!
5.      If you walk on the treadmill no on in there will ever take you seriously (even if your boobs have been given a health and safety warning)

I have decided that every gym outfit is unflattering - for me especially - you are never going to find something in JD sports which looks as good on me as a fifties shirt dress.  So me and the gym are already off on the wrong foot. But I'm discovering it's not just me, yesterday there was a 6ft, slim, blond, attractive (though probably not very funny) female (goddess?) there, but still her skin tight black ensemble managed to not do her any favours. And even if any of us manage to pull the outfit off standing still,  as soon as you get on one of those machines it's going to make any of the wobbly bits start putting on a show dance for everyone. And, amazingly, the goddess did wobble - so heaven help us mere mortals!

This particular gym was once originally squash courts. It is a pit, devoid of natural light, below the rest of the leisure centre. So windows it doesn’t have but a balcony it does. The general public, therefore, can come along and look, laugh or point at you. Who says the youth have nothing to do? One teenage boy says :“What shall we do today?” The other replies “Dunno shall we go see if there’s anyone shit in the gym?”. I’m just waiting for a rotten tomato to land on my head.

 This little haven then squeezes in gym equipment like Ryanair squeezes in seats. This creates an enactment of any of my London tube experiences: we're uncomfortably close to each other but pretending we can't see each other; even though you're doing your best to avoid eye contact with me, I want to smile at you; even though you won't be able to hear me through your ear phones on, I want to talk to you; because we are invading each other’s personal space, I have this irrepressible desire for you to acknowledge I exist. Just like being on the tube then?  Does anyone else feel like that? I am weird?

And finally - what do we do to ourselves in there?  Is there anywhere else we could make ourselves less attractive in 40 minutes? Where else would you make yourself go that red and sweaty in public? And those big, ugly fan heaters on the wall are going to do jack shit to cool you down after you’ve nearly blown a gasket on the exercise bike. The facial expressions? Seriously, are they necessary? Apparently so, I've seen myself do them in the mirrors too. The mirrors which are EVERYWHERE, so you can see how unglamorous you look ALL THE TIME.

Then when you can't bare it any more you leave. This is when you get that feel good rush; it's not the self satisfaction of exercise, it's not the cumulative number of calories burnt (great, a mars bar), it's not even adrenaline. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that gently seeps into your body as you walk away and think 'Thank Fuck that's over!'


  1. Spot on! Made me laugh. I have just finished my big pork pie from the local butcher and have set my mind to swerving the gym tonight. What was it you said in an earlier post about blogging girls and keyboards full of crumbs?! x

  2. I've taken to hoovering mine on a weekly basis! Children's Easter Eggs are the current culprit... my fingers are well toned though - tip tap tip tap!