The Gym, Revisited

Regular readers will recall that after a good six years of abusing my body with burgers, biscuits and a general lack of movement, I joined a gym. My subsequent departure from The University put a stop to that, but now, six months on, I’ve started again.

I had planned on joining a gym again as soon as I had a new job, and during my unemployment had kept myself at my poor level of health with brisk walks twice a day and eating lots of fruit and nuts instead of cake and crisps. However, I delayed another couple of months after joining The Company on the grounds that we were to be moving offices, and with the new office was directly opposite a gym, it made sense to wait a bit and join that one.

In fact, there are two gyms available in this new area, each with various discounts on offer to Company employees. One can be seen from my office window, has free internet access and serves Costa Coffee and all-day breakfasts, and the other is in some sort of industrial park and shares its building with a greyhound race track — can you possibly guess which one I’ve joined?

I didn’t actually make my mind up straight away, though. After a tour of the nearby gym, my manager (who was joining with me) went to check out the other one during a lunch break — we were going to give it a chance, you know? Particularly as it was half the price of the other one. However, after a good 20 minute walk through broken glass, barbed wire and desperately-cinematic parking lots (of the sort you might see in Fight Club), we decided that joining this other gym just wasn’t on the cards — we couldn’t even find the place, let alone go for a guided tour of the facilities, and had we found it, it wouldn’t have mattered — there’s nothing like a horrible walk choking on articulated lorry dust to put you off going for a workout. Besides, sharing a building with a greyhound race track? What the hell’s that all about?

We don’t have to like each other. We just have to get married.

So with this mysterious far-away gym out of the scene, we signed up for the posh, expensive one, and we’ve managed to save a couple of pounds a month by pretending to be a couple, which was a straightforward process and entirely unlike the hilarious events of Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell ’90s classic Green Card. This new gym is quite a step up from my old gym where everything was basically made out of bits of wood and string and generally featured queuing while small Asian girls and large Greek men monopolised the machines. This new gym has everything.

Assuming you can get past the café/restaurant/bar with its comfy sofas, fine wine list, range of Fairtrade coffees and alluring promises of steaks cooked just the way you want them, you find yourself in a cavernous hall that contains row upon row of running machines, cross-trainers, rowing machines and some things that I didn’t recognise (including one machine that purports to make your legs longer, which I assume is basically a rack). Some of the machines have built-in TVs showing episodes of The Simpsons which is a nice touch, but if you can’t get on one of those then you can just plug your headphones in to whatever you’re on and watch the overhead TVs instead, though I prefer to listen to music — watching Neighbours just doesn’t really get you into the zone.

There’s an area set aside for stretching and doing strange things with those balls that look like they ought to be patrolling the coastline on the lookout for Patrick McGoohan. I understand that there’s a weights section but it was over the horizon so I haven’t seen that yet — besides, the weights section is an intimidating place full of oiled muscles, and I have no business there.

There’s also a swimming pool and jacuzzi which I’ll be avoiding unless beached whale chic comes back into fashion.

I have my induction and fitness test on Thursday, where somebody sleek and fit will mock me and prod me and explain to me exactly why I’ll die young of diabetes. I’m looking forward to that.