Holier than thou
Gerald Ingolby on 'new regime' frustrations
My new fitness regime, hampered of course by my gammy hip, continues. They say man cannot live by bread alone and, since (on my new self-designed diet imposed since 1st January) bread and potatoes are banned, some of us cannot even live on that.
Last night, for our evening meal, we had what I now know were portions of duck leg confit, with spring greens, roasted butternut squash squares and the most gorgeous-looking roast potatoes I have ever seen, all laced with home-made gravy. It was enough to make a Hindu mystic man living on air alone break his fast.
Nevertheless, buoyed with confidence from my latest trip to the gym, I declined all blandishments to join my fellow diners at the roast potato ‘altar’ but was obliged to look on as they helped themselves to second helpings, all the while testifying to the joys of their unsurpassable taste and texture. One lady present announced that if she was ever cast away on a desert island, her luxury item would not be a pair of Louboutin shoes, or a piece of Bond street jewellery, but a limitless supply of roast potatoes, sea salt and perfect gravy.
When I rose from my bed at 3.30am this morning to begin my day shift, I also noticed that roast potato dish … which still had up to half a dozen now-cold examples lying in it when I departed for bed at 9.00pm last night … was now conspicuously empty.
Over the years I have read many articles on gym etiquette and good manners, all of them fundamentally based upon respecting each other’s space and ability level.
On Saturday I saw a neatly-trimmed bearded man, of not dissimilar age to mine, ‘walking’ upon one of the running machines in my local gymnasium. He was dressed in what looked like a modern torso gym black undergarment that covered him up to the neck and down to the wrists … and then a set of black bell-tent drapes that totally covered his legs to the ankles, under which he was wearing a brand new set of trainers. Absolutely baffling, to my eyes. The best I could come up with as an explanation was that either he was wearing his ensemble for a bet, or otherwise (possibly) he had been on his way to officiate at a Greek Orthodox church service and taken a wrong turn.
But – and I want this noted – I didn’t laugh. Well, not openly, anyway.
The one thing that irritates me more than any other about people doing their business in the gym is the use of iPods and/or iPhones. Most gyms have thumping music blaring anyway, so in a sense such accessories are superfluous.
That said, I can see the thinking behind it – you don’t want to have your musical accompaniment chosen for you, you want to work out to your own favourite tunes that are most likely to spur you on and/or enhance your enjoyment of the experience.
On Friday, however, and again yesterday, I came across gym-bores.
In the weights gym, there are a finite number of machines designed to exercise different parts of the body. My system is simple. I start at one end and, going anti-clockwise around the room, like to work out on each machine that I use in turn. This works well when there is nobody else around, or when there are only two or three of us using the gym.
On both Friday and yesterday (Sunday), when there were only three other people in the room, (on the face of it) one ought not to have expected a problem, there were individuals sporting iPhones. On both occasions, the guy had either just strapped himself into a machine, or had just done his ‘turn’ in it, and was now tapping, or scrolling through items of the screen of, his iPhone.
On Friday the guy was a twenty-something gym monkey, judging by his engorged torso and bulging muscles. Yesterday he was a bulky gent in his forties. I began my efforts about three machines earlier in the room both times, hoping that by the time I reach the machine the guy was on, he’d have moved on to the next, or possibly retired to the changing room (if he had finished his entire session).
Not a bit of it. He just sat there, tapping away – and then staring into the middle distance – as if he had not a care in the world. Well, quite possibly, he didn’t … I grant him that.
However, this lack of consideration for anyone else left me fuming. I had to use all the machines up to his … walk around it … and then go on to the machine after it. It totally destroyed my rhythm and my ‘system’.
The trouble with the ‘twenty-something gym-monkey’ type is that they’re so vain (and up themselves) that spending three hours in the gym per day is part of their normal routine. With the middle-aged fatties, it’s a case of “Darling, I’m just going to the gym for 90 minutes” – when in fact, though that’s technically correct, they’re actually sitting in the gym going through their emails and later ogling the young ladies in their swim-suits in the swimming pool, for most of it.
That leaves senior citizens like me, just trying to stay fit for purpose and keep themselves from going ga-ga, frustrated, bored and fed up.