take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Duracell gym bunny 

Good lord!

The unthinkable has happened. Unthinkable, at least, for me.

I went to the gym and I enjoyed it.

I hadn’t been to a gym for 3 years, and that was only a couple of pathetic attempts on a treadmill during my lunch hour, in a tiny gym housed in the basement of our City office building, back then when I went by a different name, lived in a different town and wrote quite a different style of blog post. Several years earlier, I had gone to an initial induction session at the YMCA in my home borough. I never returned.

My experience with gyms, then, is extremely limited.

To be fair, this gym is not one of these standard issue, huge, modern, flashy cathedrals of fitness, where the truly faithful come to worship several times a week, while the eternally lapsed traipse in, red-faced and dutiful, for the few weeks following New Year.

For a start, this one costs me only £5 per month. This is partly due to the fact that it is housed within the grounds of a school, whose primary purpose purports to be education (though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, so Big tells me) and thus, this limits the times that members of the public can access the facilities.

Equally, the facilities themselves are limited: no sauna, steamroom, or jacuzzi - although there is a swimming pool within the grounds. All in all, it's not the sort of gym to attract the serious gym bunnies and thus a less intimidating atmosphere for a gym amateur.

So, on Sunday morning, around the time that I would otherwise have sloped off reluctantly to running club, I jogged the short distance down the road and up the drive to the gym.

I was surprised. It just felt... well, easy. Admittedly, I stuck to what I knew – cardio – trying out the cross trainer which was something akin to running on a bouncy castle with ski poles in your hands, and the treadmill which was like running, only different. Very different.

The speed showing on the digital display was far faster than I could ever hope to run in "real life". (And yes, I checked several times – it was in mph, not kph). I even tried a different treadmill on my second visit to check that it was not a calibration issue. I could only conclude that running on the treadmill must be considerably easier (in terms of physical effort) than running on the cold, hard, streets. Obviously, the coldness and hardness would make some difference, but surely not *that* much?

In other ways, of course, the treadmill is a more difficult proposition. The boredom, oh the boredom. The never-changing landscape. The concentration required so as not to lose control and end up in a heap on the floor makes it difficult to drift off and think of other things, as I would if I were running outside. I simply had to focus on the LED display and keep running. Luckily, there was no mirror, although there was a window so, on the occasions when I looked up, I was treated to the vague but not-so-delicious sight of my lumbering frame bouncing up and down.

Overall, I must admit that my two trips (so far) to the gym have given me a tremendous boost in my confidence. I realised that I must actually be rather fit - not in the "phwoar" sense, of course, but in terms of pure, physical endurance. I probably outstayed my welcome on those machines, and certainly outlasted most of the people who came and went as I chugged away, and I felt I could have gone on for much longer had the boredom not been a factor. Despite awakening something in my ankles which has obviously been dormant for some time, I left the gym with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I’ll go back.

Although I really must sort out a gym playlist for my iPod.

Whilst in other circumstances I might find the curious juxtaposition of System of a Down and Francis Cabrel mildly amusing, in this context it was just so very wrong.

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