Today I became part of an age old cliche and joined a gym in the first week of January. The chap who gleefully took my money led me to believe that I was only the latest in a long line of similarly enthusiastic punters and certainly wasn’t expected to be the last. However, I know something they don’t know. Whilst it would be correct to think that I had joined to fulfil a New Year’s Resolution, my joining has almost nothing to do with a desire to get fit. That, if it happens, will merely be a happy bi-product.
I have been a member of a gym before and so know what to expect. Back in the 90s before marriage and children I was a member of another gym in Ilkley. It was tiny. It was so small that there was only room for a handful of people to train at any one time. To get round this obvious disadvantage men and women were both allocated separate time slots. I loved this. Firstly, training without men meant that it really didn’t matter what you looked like because there was no one there to impress. Secondly, no one needed to show off so everyone worked within their own capabilities. Thirdly with a full time job there were only four sessions a week available to me and so I went four times a week. It was great. The same women were invariably there and we had a laugh and a gossip whilst following our programme. It was a bit like the WI with weights.
Then, the gym moved to swanky new premises across town and that was when the rot set in. There were screens to watch whilst you ran and headphones built in to the equipment which meant that people stopped talking. There were men so you had to make an effort with your kit and your bodyhair and wear make up. I was forced to try harder too in an attempt to show how fit I was. ( Remember I was still young, free and single at this time and always on the alert for a suitable if somewhat sweaty mate.) And that’s another thing. Sharing a gym with men is an unpleasant experience in my view. They make so much noise. It’s as if the decibel level of the grunt is in direct proportion to the amount of weight lifted. Then there’s all that strutting and preening afterwards especially if there are mirrors in which to admire themselves and check who is watching them. And they sweat. If you follow a bloke on to a machine you need a towel of incredible absorbency to remove his sweat before you begin. Yuk!
And so I continued for years and years. I got married and trained. I had a child and was in the gym on my due date. I had another baby and still rushed back although it was now more as a way of getting away from the house than for the physical benefits that it imparted. After child number three I had an unfortunate accident in a step class and there my gym career came to an abrupt halt. I have not been in a gym since and never missed it. I walk everywhere at break neck speed until recently pushing a variety of buggies, swim lengths for twenty minutes or so at the weekend and rarely sit down during the day and that has been enough exercise for me.
Notwithstanding this I have an appointment for my induction at 10.15 tomorrow morning. I shall probably lie about why I am there and make all the right noises about my desire to get fit, run some dreadful charity 10k or improve muscle tone. But I ( and now you ) will know that I have only joined to get me out of the bloody house!!!