Better never late

We’ve been through this whole saga, so I’m not going to bore you with it again, but in case you do need to catch up, there was this and then there was this. Eventually (and more positively) there was this.

So this cartoon doesn’t really apply to me, but having spent another hour at the gym yesterday, I can completely sympathise.

It’s all about how you choose to look at things, I suppose. Starting to do something good is a positive thing to do, no matter when you begin.

Although it didn’t feel great at 8 o’clock on a grey, wet Monday morning, I’ll be honest.



The fightback starts now

That sounds ever so dramatic, doesn’t it?

See, the problem is that I have one big leg and one small leg. Not in length – I’ve just checked and they both reach all the way down to the floor. The trouble is that the muscles in one of them have atrophied completely away to nothing.

Let’s cut to the chase.

I had a routine, minor knee op in February. I had it on a Friday morning. I was meant to be back at work on the Monday.

Things didn’t go as planned and I ended up having a second emergency operation ten days later and spending two months off work. What has followed has been a tale of pain, expensive medication, frustration and regular general grumpiness. It’s been incredibly limiting. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’m the most unfit that I have ever been and I’ve been unable to do any meaningful exercise to try to put things right.

Until now.

I was given the green light by the surgeon to get in moving a little while ago. Walking is “ok”, while running is (quite literally) a non-starter. Cycling is apparently the way to get things started again. The trouble is that cycling around our area requires going up hills and that’s (again, quite literally) a real pain. I need flatness.

Gym was the obvious answer, but really, where does one find the time? I mean, have you seen my weekends? (If not, there are examples here and here.)
And if you don’t go to the gym often enough, your special price for gym membership disappears and you have to pay full price and really, where does one find the money?

So I’ve made some lifestyle changes which are due to kick in real soon now. They will allow me more time to attend the gym and make things right. As an example, I did a whole 16.4km on the bike today. And while that might not sound like much, it’s more than twice what I did on (the flat) Sea Point Prom on the public holiday yesterday and an infinite amount more than I’ve been able to do for the past six months.

Realistically, I’m not sure that I will ever get back to where I was before. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to give it a damn good go.

The fightback begins now.

Gym and Haircuts

On my recent post about returning to gym after a prolonged (4 years) absence, I got a comment from Damien Tomaselli, a personal trainer, a part of which I have faithfully reproduced here:

I’m a personal trainer. I like to know what peoples attitudes towards exercise/gym are. You mentioned you don’t like the people at gym. I know your not alone in that. May I ask what it is exactly that you don’t like?

So, Damien et al, here’s the deal. For me, going to gym is like having a haircut: purely functional.
It’s a pain to have to do and I dislike actually doing it, but I enjoy the results. Generally, anyway. No-one can do it quite like Precious from Partners on the Waterfront and if she’s not around, it all goes a bit Pete Tong. (And have you ever seen his hair?)

The problem with gym is one that runs through any physical activity in South Africa: that is, the perception that if you’re not doing it completely full-on and seriously, then you might as well not do it at all.
Take a couple of sports I have dabbled in back in the UK: mountain biking and golf. I actually find myself scared to start doing them here, because then I have to join the club which talks about Shimano GT220-R gear sets and the new Ping carbon-fibre graphite shafted driver with the elliptical sweetspot.  I don’t care about all that crap – I just want to do it for some fun and exercise.

The same goes for gym, but the problem is exacerbated by the sheer arrogance of the gymming class. If you’re not bench-pressing 105kg, sprinting like a cocaine-snorting, demented hamster on the treadmill, wearing an understatedly cool baggy vest to show off your pecs or have the latest ever-so-small iPod attached to a big alice band around your sweaty bicep, then what the **** are you doing in there?
It’s like you’re suddenly part of some underclass for not being healthy or trendy enough or just not fitting in with the unwritten rules of serious gymming. But you still pay the same money as them to use the same equipment while having their sneering superiority complexes forced upon you.
Yeah well, sorry I’m not as super fit as you, but I actually do other stuff besides exercise. I have family, have braais, have friends that I can talk to without having to be running along a suburban pavement in a group of twenty runners, talking about running. I can drink a beer without having to feel guilty about the extra 3 kms I’ll have to do in the morning to run it off. I have a life.

And that’s why I only go to gym when it’s quiet: Sunday afternoons or weekdays at 11. It’s why I plug myself into my music before I go through the door, why my distinctly uncool but ever so practical 120GB Classic iPod remains tucked into my pocket, playing distinctly uncool but ever so enjoyable music. Sure, I’m hugely unfriendly – I don’t make eye contact, I don’t talk – I just do my cycling or circuits and I leave. It’s not a bloody singles club – it’s purely functional.

Like I say – I hate gym. But I’m already starting to like the results. And that’s why I’ll be back again tomorrow afternoon: head down, training hard and ignoring the twats.

UPDATE: Gym Bunny “Come Sweat With Me” online dating ad sounds death knell for all things gym.


I went to gym today for the first time in ages. Not literally ages, as in Mesolithic, Jurassic, Paleolithic etc. That would just be silly. Blokes fought off velociraptors and dragged women around by their hair for exercise back in those days: there was no need for gym. Oh – and men had beards and said “Ug!” a lot.
Thus, those were obviously good days.

Back to the present.
I don’t like gym and, generally speaking, I don’t like the sort of people who do like gym. Therefore, I’ve had many, many reasons for this hiatus. Some have been good, some appallingly bad, several were brilliantly made up on the spur of the moment.
Many have been related to my children and at least fourteen had some form of alcohol as their foundation stone. But I’ve finally run out of excuses and it was time to face my fears at Virgin Active in Claremont. 

For some reason, I decided that a nice gentle easing of my body back in to fitness would be a 25km cycle ride without going anywhere while watching Manchester United and Blackburn, neither of whom were going anywhere either. 
At least the bike kept my heart rate up. At least the scoreline made me smile.  
Can you see how utterly desperate I am for something positive?

After that, I incomprehensibly headed for the incomprehensible torture weights machines and lifted more than I should have rightfully been able to in order to break myself some more. If you are passing Chez 6000, I would very much like you to pop in and touch me on my studio please, because I cannot currently bend down far enough to do it myself.

Sadly, I fear tomorrow may bring with it a new dimension of musculoskeletal agony and there’s precisely bugger all I can do about it.