Sunday, 3 July 2011

Unlucky gym

I don't like blogs that are all rants, so this post will be approximately 50% rant.

Do you know what I hate? Gyms. God, they're depressing places, an atmosphere heavy with guilt and misery. Vending machines that only sell bottled water and the kind of muesli bars that are less a snack than an orally-administered punishment. The clientele an even split between people who use it as a religion, spandex saints with all the gear who go at least six days a week and really enjoy it, and women of all ages drearily doing their three times a week gym duty. It's written all over their faces that they'd rather be at home with Hollyoaks and a couple of rounds of toast.

The gym staff meanwhile, came straight out of the Nuremburg second eleven - dead-eyed sadists who hate the customers indiscriminately and whose overall air is "they won't be coming more than a month, so why bother with customer service?" The machines are essentially the tools of the Greek Hades. As Tantalus reached for succulent fruit he couldn't grab, as Sisyphus pushed his boulder up a hill only to have it roll down again just as he reached the top - so the gym is filled with neverending staircases and eternal hills to run up. I don't know why we put ourselves through it.

Nor do I like the packages you get tied into - pay £10 a month for the first three months (minimum membership duration seven years, whether you go or not), a forced "fitness plan" and "personal trainer." I.e., one of the sadists stops texting and picking his feet behind the desk, lollops over to look you up and down, and mutters, "Fifty on the cross trainer, Miss Flabby, until such time as I say STOP" and is silent until you are actually dead of exertion, having ignored your constant protests that every time the handles come back on the infernal machine they hit you in the boobs hard enough to make you bleed. And, between my day job and writing, it's very hard to find the time to gym it the required number of times per week without it beginning to feel like yet another obligation that I must find time for in my already packed life.

So, gyms. You sweat in front of strangers, exert yourself to coronary-causing levels and get ripped off to do it. Sadly, if you take no exercise (always my preferred option) you die of a heart attack at 35. And for the ten years before that, you've been too big to fit into anything other than ugly Bon Marche t-shirts and stirrup leggings.

Now, I want to live, and I don't want to wear stirrup leggings. So, I've started to explore the murky world of home fitness. Im pleased to see that it's moved on since I last did it. GMTV's Mr Motivator has long since hung up his migraine-causing leotard and ceased to shout cheerfully "I CAN SEE YOU FLAGGING THERE!' as you attempt to sneak off to your own goddamn kitchen for an energy-giving biscuit. No, I have found a wonderful thing.

Mini exercise bikes. I bought one. It's beautiful. It cost less than a night out clubbing. It has a calorie counter (for seeing how many hours you have to sweat for to burn off an individual tiramisu). And for the last few nights, I have sat on a dining chair, pedalling frantically with the remote control in my other hand, watching Emmerdale while I lose weight. I've got a set of weights in pretty colours too, but the bike is my first love. It's the way exercise should be - in front of the TV and half a dozen steps away from the shower for when you've finished.

Have I lost weight? Well, the thing is, I got annoyed and threw out my weighing scales, so I've no idea. But this I do know; I'm pedalling fast away from the risk of a future in stirrup pants.

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