Yesterday I knocked out a total of 25,637 steps (as per my Garmin fitness wristband) after deciding that simply going to the gym for a ‘session’ every two or three days was not enough. I’m not talking about having fallen prey to post-Christmas blues as regards how much I ate or drank over the period – because frankly I was hardly self-indulgent upon either score – nor indeed was I responding to a conscious sense of shame at how poorly my ‘New Year’ fitness campaign was going.
Those are the two negative feelings that sometimes hit the average Joe or Jane who (inevitably) tends to increase their exercise activities (or indeed just begins them anew) just into January as part of either a resolution or a sense of necessary payback time after the excesses of their partying December.
About ten years ago a PT instructor at my local gym told me that upon average about 60% of people who hit the gym first thing in January in a mad rush have ‘gone off the boil’ and to all intents and purposes disappeared by the end of the month, leaving the hard-core group of fitness freaks, Narcissistic poseurs and geriatric saddos (who together represent about 25% of all gym subscription payers) to get on with holding the fort for the rest of the year as they always do.
Rusters will get no prizes for guessing correctly that, obviously, I come in the last of the above three hardcore categories. There may have been a time when I might have admitted to being an aspirant member of either of the other categories (even though it wasn’t true, because when I was a young man I tended to keep naturally fit by playing sport, i.e. rather than ever training in order to be fit enough to play it at the level I wanted, if you see what I mean).
It was only at about the age of forty that I first joined a gym – well, as it happens the gym I’ve been a member of ever since. It had just opened, spanking brand new, and was being heavily advertised in my rather upmarket area of London. I noticed the ads, had the necessary loot at the time, and so I thought why not?
Even then – through sudden onset of humility and honesty on my part – I was pretty transparent with myself about my motives for joining. Becoming a quasi-Arnold Schwarzenegger or super-fit was never among them.
Thanks to a sporting career during which I’d collected badges for a dislocated shoulder, a total of about twenty-five stitches, two broken fingers, a broken wrist, a broken metatarsal, a ruptured Achilles tendon and two Morton’s neuromas that required having an operation to remove two nerves from my left foot, I had enough inklings to tell me that age was catching up with me and that, given where I was now, I had little to expect going forward other than bits falling into disuse and off and then ever-more frequent and stronger aches and pains.
And okay, there was a degree of vanity in it as well.
As I told the personal trainer that I hired to assess my state of initial fitness and then give me a programme to follow, I wasn’t interested in attempting anything so stupid as to try and be as fit as a 28 year-old again, it was just that – rising 41 as I was at the time – I wouldn’t mind being reasonably fit for a 42 year-old by the time my 42nd birthday came around.
And lastly, somewhere in there, was an acceptance that, beyond a certain stage in life, there’s a degree to which “If you don’t use it, you lose it”.
I’ll tell you what is annoying, though.
The standard of service at my local gym has been deteriorating over recent months. I’m not blaming the staff, per se – over the past twenty five years I’ve been a member, the young (and not so young, some of them) trainers and attendants have without exception been dedicated, conscientious and courteous.
It’s just that, in any business, when things start going off the boil, you notice it.
Since the beginning of December, the towel service has gone completely to pot. There used to be unlimited towels available for gym users. Over the past week the supply has gone from “a few” to none at all!
The spinning machine that dries swimming costumes in the male changing rooms has gone on the blink and nobody has fixed it.
Furthermore, they used to provide free plastic bags so you could take costumes home without getting all your clothes wet. That’s stopped – probably because they’ve run out and haven’t re-ordered.
Last night, as I went to the sauna, there was a metal peg missing on the set to be used for towels – it had clearly fallen off. It doesn’t matter that there are no towels anymore – there ought to be pegs for them to go on (if only we had them)!
Lastly, in the gyms there used to be paper dispensers so you could wipe down the apparatus you’d just been using for the benefit of the next person to use it. They’ve stopped filling those up as well.
This Brexit business has got a lot to answer for …