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Am I going loopy?

Gerald Ingolby is concerned about his current state of mind

This potentially either demonstrates the state of my humdrum little life or, alternatively, the kind of obsession that invade the minds of those who begin taking exercise regularly – but I’ve now gone beyond getting irritated by those I’ve mentioned on this website previously, viz. the over-muscled poseurs who visit health clubs and then sit round on different weights machines doing nothing than checking their emails, changing the music or texting on their smartphones at a time when elite athletes such as myself are waiting with varying degrees of patience to use said apparatus.

The above is plainly a off-shoot product of the growth of gym culture and the modern fads for male grooming, self-image concern and probably ‘metro-sexuality’ (whatever that means).

The line to one’s partner – or indeed to oneself, in terms of boosting one’s commitment to fitness training – “I’m just going off to spend four hours in the gym” is de facto diluted somewhat when the speaker spends three of those four hours either tending to his smartphone and/or sitting at some item of apparatus admiring himself in the mirror for up to for 15 minutes per every 2 of actual physical activity.

This week I’ve moved on from frustration at such behaviour to something slightly more irrational and worrying.

In the cardio-vascular room at my health club are a range of rowing, running and stepping machines which – at capacity – could probably accommodate 20 users at any one time. As you’d reasonably expect of any organisation worth its salt, from time to time the management repairs individual items of this apparatus which breaks downs and needs repairing and/or eventually replaces them when they become obsolete.

By said route, the ‘old style’ stepping machines, which I use in preference to the running machines because my Achilles tendons are shot due to decades of road jogging, have gradually been replaced in turn with newer, more high-tech ones. We’ve reached the point where there is only one ‘old style’ version remaining, right at the top of the stairs leading to the room.

That’s the one stepping machine I like to use, or rather – to be totally accurate – it’s the only one that I am prepared to use. Its workings are very simple to understand, I like its basic set-up – even its ‘handles’, which are thinner than those on the new style machines.

Long ago I reached the stage where, when I reached the cardio room, if ‘my’ stepping machine was either out of action, or being used already, I would bail out of doing any cardio exercise, do something else for half an hour, and then return to the room in the hope that it had become free.

Perhaps, dear reader, you can imagine the frustration of journeying all the way to the gym with the intent of warming-up by doing my cardio session, only to find that I cannot get on ‘my’ apparatus because some jerk or indeed fragrant lady is hogging it. When you belong to an upmarket health club which is costing you over £80 per month, you do at least expect to be able to turn up and do the exercising you want to do … and this is the very reason why I always try to visit the place at times when it is likely to be least populated by others (if I can work out on a daily basis when that is likely to be).


On Monday (or was it Tuesday?) last week I arrived in the cardio room and there was one particular elderly man stepping away on my stepping machine.

[When I say ‘elderly’, I mean he looked like an old man, which these days of course might mean that in fact he might be anything up to five years junior to me, but that’s by-the-by!].

He wasn’t harming anyone, or indeed being offensive in any objective way … other, of course, than he was working out on my machine.

I hung around and did some stomach curls on the floor mat at the far end of the room, waiting and waiting for him to finish his session so that I could use said machine. But he just kept on stepping and stepping.

Finally, I walked downstairs, trying my best to disguise my irritation, and went off to take some other form of exercise.

You won’t believe this, but when I next returned to the health club on Thursday, deliberately an hour later than last time just in case said gent had begun a regime of attending at the same time every day, there he was … stepping on my effing machine again!

saunaI went to the health club yesterday (Easter Monday) during the lunch hour (noon to 1400 hours) and … yes, you’ve guessed it, that same bastard was stepping on my machine once again.

Worse, after I had disappeared in disgust to take exercise elsewhere in the building, exasperated that I had been unable to do the exercise I wished in the order that I wished, I then ended up having a 10-minute session in the sauna … only to find said gent joining me in there.

Was he stalking me?!? He seemed relaxed and unconcerned, no doubt unaware of the pain he had been causing. At different points during my sauna session I felt ‘this short’ from having a verbal go at him, or indeed physically attacking him for his impudence.

I’m now worried that this new fitness campaign of mine is beginning to get to me …


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About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts