The gym is as boring as I thought it would be

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Sunday 25th September 2011

Sport is like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. I won a running race at primary school once and reached the heady heights of the netball team a few times but that’s the extent of my sporting prowess. Until recently, that is. My teenage daughter suddenly decided to join the local gym – run by the council, incidentally, and far better value than a posh one. After a few sessions though, she declared it would be much more fun if we went together. I was horrified and refused point-blank – except that she went on and on about it so much that eventually I gave in.

The gym staff insisted I had an induction session to discuss what I wanted to achieve (their words not mine). “Not that much” was my response. As they explained the minutiae of the treadmill, exercise bike, cross-trainer and other scary-looking machines, I glanced around at the other members, all honed and bronzed and with legs up to their armpits. “I’m worried that I’m going to be the oldest person here,” I told the instructor, who looked about twelve. “Oh, don’t worry about that,” he said airily. “Our oldest member is eighty-five.”

What to wear was the next problem. I picked out an old T-shirt, some £5 jogging bottoms from Sainsbury’s that I bought for my son years ago and he refused to wear – and a pair of plimsolls that had seen better days. “You look completely ridiculous,” said my daughter. She was so embarrassed to be seen with me that she frogmarched me straight to a sports shop and made me buy some proper trainers. Next she persuaded me to order some chic Sweaty Betty trousers. The only trouble is that the dreadful joggers are far more comfy.

So what have I learned after two weeks of my new keep-fit regime? Mainly that the gym is just as boring as I thought it would be. In fact it is so tedious that I’ve resorted to planning it around TV programmes I want to watch. The upshot is that I’m no fitter than when I started (mainly, says my daughter, because, I don’t “push myself enough”), but I’m very well up on the news.

PS: I haven’t spotted any eighty-five year olds pounding away on the treadmill. Either the instructor was fibbing or the gym has had such a stupendous effect that the eighty-five year old looks twenty-five.

PPS: COMING SOON – Starting this week, I’m featuring a book review on House With No Name every Friday. So if you love books and are looking for new reads – or if you’ve read something fantastic and want to recommend it – I’d love to hear from you.

6 comments so far

  • Wish you lived closer, I would persuade you into a double scull. Best time to have a chat, eye up the talent (did I admit to that? – I mean lovely houses by the riverside of course) and get fit too.

    Why don’t you review the Booker short list books up until results night? They are lovely and slim for a change this year – I am two down, four to go!

  • Thanks so much, Linsey. Sculling sounds much more fun than the gym! And I’ll be interested to hear which of the Booker shortlist you like best…

  • That’s a good idea, Elaine. I’m persevering but I’m still not finding the treadmill very scintillating. Good luck to you too!

  • I think going to the gym with someone else is a really good idea. You can natter through the boring bits, or make it competitive, whatever works for you. I agree it’s boring by yourself. Making your own soundtrack can help. Or even take an audiobook to listen to. Good luck!

  • Thanks so much for commenting, Emily. That’s such good advice. I’ve just started going to the gym with a friend and even though I can’t talk while I exercise (too puffed-out!) we both keep each other going!

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