I’ve started going to the gym again this week. I’ll put that in perspective for you; when I last went to the gym on a regular basis, Comfortably Numb was regularly on the radio. However, it was the Scissor Sisters version. Still! It’s been a while. I started going to the gym because my doctor has prescribed exercise for me, for my arthritis, and when he told me I should go swimming a few times a week and I told him I couldn’t afford to do that. He laughed, then realised I wasn’t joking.
So, thanks to the good old NHS (long may she rest in peace), I have 12 weeks in which I may:
- Use the gym for £1 a time
- Swim for free
- Go to Badminton classes for £1
- Go to Yoga classes for £1
- Go to Pilates classes for £1
- Stay in the house and do nothing
To be fair, that last one was already an option and I don’t intend to take it. Nor do I intend to go to the classes because:
a) I know I would throw the badminton racquet at the bird-thingy by accident and hit somebody
b) I have no lateral movement in my hips at the moment so there would be only one Yoga move available – ‘the bored stand’ (There may be a more mystical name for this but I don’t know it.)
c) I’m not remotely interested in flying a plane and I probably couldn’t afford to buy the fuel!
So, while I won’t be availing myself of all that’s on offer, I do intend to take up the gym and swim options. Perhaps it’s the poet in me. So, on Wednesday I went for my ‘induction’. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear ‘induction’ I think ‘of labour’, and to be fair my induction on Wednesday was ‘steps taken to lead to something incredibly painful yet eventually productive’ so I think I was thinking along the right lines.
I had waited about 5 weeks for my appointment, which is great because that gave me extra time to work myself up into a panic, lose sleep, imagine the tortures ahead but not, apparently, dig out suitable clothing. So, when the day came, I borrowed a pair of short-ish tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt from my husband; I say ‘borrowed’. He was out: I took them! In the gym, I had to submit to a humiliating physical assessment, carried out by Xena: Warrior Princess, or at the very least, her stunt-double. Apparently, explaining how fat I am IS rocket science. Well, science-y maths! There were graphs …percentages …a pie-chart that merely succeeded in making me want pie, when all they really needed to do was ask me if my clothes still fit me; I’d say ‘Not really!’ There’d be a bit of a knowing nod from Xena and we’d get on with it. But, no! I have to understand how much I have let myself go in order to claw my way back into society. There were a lot of numbers that I do not wish to discuss in a public forum.
So Xena commenced to talk me through my exercises of which there were 7: 4 ‘cardio’, 3 ‘resistance’. When she explained what resistance means I was dying for her to say, “I will say zis only once!” She didn’t! She programmed the machines for me, carefully explaining as one might to a 4-year old that these machines can be dangerous if misused. “Never get off the treadmill while it is still moving!” she warned. I wondered if she had ever encountered somebody with arthritis in both hips before, and if she had, how often she’d seen them leap from a moving treadmill. Personally, I was doubtful I’d be able to get on it at all without a ramp and a couple of huskies, never mind get off again.
Her m.o. was such that she would explain how to use something, start me off on it, go and talk to somebody else, which for some strange reason seemed to include looking in my direction and sniggering a lot. Perhaps they’ve read my hashtag game tweets. Who knows! Anyway, Xena left me on my own quite a lot considering I’m so new to this and the machines are so dangerous but I managed not to kill myself or anyone else. I resisted the urge to ramp the weights up to 20Kg on the Abs machine: why risk it? It’s not like I need a 6-pack! I was very careful to wipe down each machine after use with an antibacterial wipe and some blue tissue (even though I didn’t even come close to sweating) because I am a considerate gym-user and when I spun the pedal of a strangely uncomfortable stationary bike into my right shin, I swore so quietly, I’m certain nobody could hear me over the sound of One Direction and the Sky rolling-news channel which were competing for attention amidst the grunting musclemen and huffing supergrans who were busy with the apparatus. However, I may have made a slight error of gym-etiquette. I’m not sure because nobody went through a check-list of this with me. Does anybody know if it’s frowned upon to put the incline up to 6 on the treadmill and sing ‘Running Up That Hill’ at the top of your voice? Me neither: maybe I’ll just swim!