Yesterday I had my induction at a local gym that I have somewhat reluctantly decided should be a place I probably need to be more familiar with. I’ll be clear right from the outset that I hate gyms. The reasons are multiple but even the basic concept – that people should pay good money for the privilege of torturing yourself on a regular basis on machines that would not look out of place in a medieval torture chamber (and indeed have the capacity for causing similar levels of pain). I don’t get it. For me personally they remind me of school gyms too much of the time, places I think of as a place of overweight teenage humiliation as, naked except for the regulation blue trunks, that I was forced to learn how to do a forward role ‘properly’, a futile exercise that taught me nothing I ever needed and rubbed the skin raw on my shoulders.
It is not the exercise, anyone who knows me I run most days and it is an important part of my life – and keeps me at least in touching distance of what might be called reasonably fit. It is just the nature of the gym environment that makes me self-conscious and a bit uncomfortable, especially if the place is busy. For those of us who fall something short of the body beautiful it is hard to feel you are being judged and assessed. It should not matter of course, but equally we all know it is quite hard to feel/avoid feeling what we should. The little voice at the back of your head is unfortunately quite persuasive and knows exactly how to press your uncertainty and self-conscious buttons.
So back to the induction at the gym. Why? Considering the obvious level of distaste, I do seem to be being inconsistent. In the end though this became a bit of a change that needed to be made. I have been a member of gym a couple of times before and the experience was not a bad one. In fact, when I was lucky enough to have a small, quiet pay as you go gym across the road from where I was living at the time I was in there most nights (but then of course I was a lot younger and single). What I do recall is that after a while I could feel the benefits and it helped back up my running by addressing the areas that could not. It seems clear to me that based on my current level of fitness if I want to improve my running times – and while I am hardly competitive – I need to shakeup what has become too much of a routine of the same runs at the same pace and that building myself a more holistic exercise programme, with a few races planned before the end of the year to aim towards seems to be the way to go. So, that means extending my runs, adding intervals and hill reps (which are hateful but effective in building strength, which I learned from my marathon training a few years ago) and the gym to work on upper body and core are now on the horizon and based on the induction where the very nice young chap who introduced me to the various items of torture managed just about not to laugh at my inability to do press ups I certainly need to get working on stuff.
Time will tell if it is going to be a fad or I’ll actually make it stick, and I’ll never make it onto the cover of ‘Men’s Health’ (thank goodness) but maybe I’ll feel a bit better about myself and hopefully allow me to ignore some implications from the sad reality of my actual age.