Random Play by Graham Reid

Fit, and you know it

So. I joined the gym today to the delight of my wife and the consternation of the young man whose job it was to design a programme for me.

It would be fair to say that for the past few decades at least I have been committing slow suicide by alcohol and enjoyment. The young man at the gym asked me how I rated my overall fitness and laughed when I said, “it's non-existent.”

When he saw I wasn’t laughing I told him more. He wasn’t judging me but I could tell that deep inside he was thinking that I must have set a poor example to my children.

I told him I worked in a sedentary profession, rarely walked if I could take a car, and believed why stand if you can sit, why sit if you can lie down. I told him I had spent a good part of my life -- and very good part it was too -- in smoke-filled pubs and clubs listening to loud rock music. That I would rather wait half an hour in the rain than embarrass myself by running for that bus, and that my idea of the ideal lunch was a $10 steak at Tony’s with a bottle of red wine and a book.

Then he weighed me which was embarrassing.

The last time I remembered getting on scales was at rugby weigh-in at university and in those days they used the civilised, if mathematically challenging, avoirdupois measure: then I was 12 stone.

Let it be said that thanks to Tony’s I am a little more than that now, some 30 years on, and my congested heart sank because I realised that no matter how much I worked out I’d probably never be a winger again, let alone an All Black. Although seeing brave Jonah across the room dancing around like a prize fighter did give me some small encouragement.

Anyway my young man introduced me to the bike, the rowing machine, and some weights. I said I would never get on one of those running things but the bike and the rowing machine were fine. I prefer getting my exercise sitting down. And I’ve always liked pushing weights.

So then he left me alone and I hopped back on the rowing machine to do my mandatory 1500 metres. Let me tell you, the first 1350 are the toughest, after that it’s a wheeze. A literal wheeze. The man next to me sensibly ignored my rattling chest and just put head down to push on past the 5000 metre mark. I tried to watch the Snoop Dogg video on the screen above but boredom set in.

And that’s always been my problem with going to gyms, I get bored witless by pedalling and the like. My reward is always getting in the pool where I don’t swim so much as flounder around, paddle a bit then stretch out for a length before going back to paddling in the shallow end. I love it.

But it has been the boredom which has undermined me in the past. And no, this isn’t my first time at the gym. I joined the same one a couple of years ago and gave it a good go for a few months before I found I was preferring to watch television and drink wine (good for the heart, right?) than go for a pedal while looking at a brick wall or young people’s booty-shakin’ videos.

The excuse I used for not going was that every time I did the place was full and I couldn’t get on the bikes or in the slow lane of chlorine. And it was true.

I was locked into the day job like most people so I could only go mornings and after work, like everyone else.

Now being a freelancer working from home I have no excuse, I can wander up at 10.30am or 2pm and there will only be me and a few fit people like Jonah and the Tuaman. So I’m into it, and the programme I have looks pretty challenging.

The place is also just around the corner and by the time I backed the car out of the garage I could have walked there. So next time I’m even going to do that too. Just that extra two minute kick of exercise.

So. I joined the gym today. Wish me luck. If I make good progress you’ll hear about it here. If you don’t hear about it that means my good intentions will have been dying quietly and by degrees.

Much like I am.