Becky says things about … home workouts

Greetings isolators!

So, the sun’s out, the air is warm, it’s bank holiday weekend – do you fancy meeting for a few drinks in a pub gard –

– oh.

No.

Forget that.

I don’t mind telling you, I’m annoyed. Until recently, I was enjoying my most successful relationship with a gym in all my 35 years: we were seeing each other regularly, for the most part we enjoyed each other’s company, and I was leaving it aching and sweaty, all good signs of a healthy relationship. I was even starting to see results – you know, those nebulous and much-coveted results that only happen to other people, well they were starting to happen to me! Our relationship was flourishing!

And then we broke up. Not because we had an argument, or I got bored, or the gym started making unreasonable demands about wanting to see me every day, none of that. We broke up because there was a sodding pandemic.

So now I’m locked up in lockdown, but it’s okay, because according to quite a lot of people on the Internet, lockdown doesn’t have to mean my newly cultivated muscles need to melt to sludgy pockets of Malteasers and Cool Original Doritos-oomska, because I can turn my home into a luxury premium workout studio.

Except that I can’t.

Now look, I live in a studio flat. I can reach all parts of my flat in three strides – and I’m talking modest strides, I’m not talking I-just-paid-£8.99-for-an-item-labelled-£15.99 sort of victory strides – and therefore it is not possible to execute the sort of gallopy I’ve-got-so-much-energy-and-the-space-to-accommodate-it exercise routes that are springing up online, because this happens:

And whilst I admire people’s dedication to keeping fit, I’m not sold on the increasingly inventive ways that they are suggesting we use our household items as gym equipment, such as deadlifting the piano, or doing 800 squats with the washing machine strapped to our backs – I mean, as if the emergency services don’t have enough on their plate right now?

What happened to the old ‘if you don’t have any weights at home, a couple of tins of beans will do’? We appear to have donkey-kicked our way straight past that to ‘if you don’t have any weights at home, the kitchen table will do’.

If I were to do the sort of home workout that these crazy cats are encouraging me to do, I cannot begin to imagine the carnage that would ensue from using three chairs to do push ups –

– or from using the radiator to do pull ups –

– or from using the toilet to do step-ups.

And there is another school of thought that encourages us to replace gym equipment with family members; you know, those cute videos of buff dads bench pressing their three year-olds. Well, that’s all very heartwarming – you’re working out really effectively and spending quality time with your child, you absolute winner – but what if you don’t have a three year-old?

And what if you live alone? With social distancing it’s not even acceptable to take measures that would otherwise be perfectly 100% acceptable.

 

SEVEN MINUTES LATER 

 

I suppose as I don’t have any small children lying around, I could use Billy Bear and Huggy Bear as weights.

Sod all this, I’m going to turn my flat into a premium luxury Easter egg haven instead.

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx

Becky says things about … failed exercise attempts

Hello, valued Listener. You look lovely today. That colour suits you.

Now. Exercise.

I know, it makes me feel a bit perturbed as well.

But I like exercise. I go through phases of doing it fairly regularly. I like an endorphin as much as the next man, and I enjoy the feeling of smugness that accompanies sweatily getting into a shower after a 30 minute run.

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But for every 30 minute run, there is the Failed Exercise Attempt. You know what I’m talking about, dearest, static Listener. Those planned exercise sessions, that picture of your ideal body pinned to your wardrobe, the delicate fillet of lemon sole in your fridge, all geared towards transforming you into the Most Awesomely Stunning Example of Physical and Aesthetic Perfection in the World. All going up in smoke like a wet tea towel left on a burning hob.

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I have identified four types of Failed Exercise Attempts throughout my extensive experience of the subject, and, for your ease of reference I shall detail them here.

The Unexpected Failure

You spend all day at work looking forward to a Really Good Session. You imagine your flushed cheeks, your sparkling eyes, your ripped abs, your toned thighs, your impossibly rounded buttocks. You bound home with the confident stride of a winner. You arrive home, you observe Rule No.1 of a successful exercise routine – DO NOT SIT DOWN EVEN FOR ONE MOMENT – you leap into your sports gear which you lovingly laid out on your bed this morning, you crank up some suitably noisy tunes on your iPod, you hop out into the cool evening light, you take those first sprightly steps in your new running shoes, the image of your disbelieving, beautiful face registering the roar of the crowd as you take Gold at the 100m final…

…and then the truth smacks you round the love handles like a horrible, slimy trout.

You really cannot be arsed.

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You try everything: you tell yourself you are fat and disgusting, you grab handfuls of your inner thighs, you search frantically through your Running playlist for a motivational tune, you make a promise to cut off your own hand if you don’t do a 30 minute run… But alas. It is all in vain. You just cannot be arsed.

You lope home, turning the serene evening air blue with your curses, you rip off your sportsgear, you kick your trainers at the wall, and you make six slices of toast and butter and spend the evening watching terrible, terrible television in a vile immovable torpor.

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The Expected Failure

You just know it’s going to end badly. You’re almost playing a game with yourself; you’re saying ‘Oh right, going to exercise are we? Really? Huh. Yeah, good luck with that. We’ll just see what happens, shall we? You’re ridiculous.’

You go through the whole sorry rigmarole of putting on sportsgear, you find your running playlist, chuckling sadistically to yourself, you stomp outside, you take an almost ironic little jogging step…

…and the whole thing unravels with a tedious inevitability.

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You spend three hours eating chocolate and ice cream in front of YouTube, but you tell yourself it’s okay because you expected to fail, so, in actual fact, you haven’t actually failed at anything because you succeeded in meeting your expectation to fail, and you open the second tub of ice cream to celebrate your astute self-awareness.

The Gallant Attempt

Most likely to occur in gyms, where the social pressure is most acute.

You start off okay. You get a bit sweaty on the bike. You go really fast on the crosstrainer for two minutes, which probably burned about 3,000,000 calories because you were going so fast. You plod for a bit on the treadmill. You look at the chest press, and note the intention to use it. You know you’re on a knife edge, you can feel eyes on you. Cruel eyes. Judging eyes.

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You pull yourself together, you stride across the gym with a determination that even Rocky couldn’t  muster, you grab the weighty-arm-strengthener-handle-pully thing, you give it an almighty tug with the strength of an ox in his prime…

…and it hurts slightly, the gym is just so stuffy, your shoes are rubbing, you’re thinking about dinner, and life’s too short.

You scuttle into the changing rooms, splash some water over your face so at least it looks like you broke a sweat, and you drive home shaking your head and cursing the £100 a month you pay in order to humiliate yourself.

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The Non-Attempt

You lie on your bedroom floor intending to do 100 sit ups.

You do two.

You get up and go to find food.

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So, cherished, immobile Listener, there really is only one solution to these heinous daily failures:

Have a sandwich instead.

 

(PS Check out this most excellent advice on how not to become a massive blob of pizza and beer while at college… http://www.thebestcolleges.org/the-best-regimen-for-college-fitness/ )

Becky says things about … trying to look cool at the gym

I have never managed this. It is a skill I shall never acquire, much like ice skating or remembering I don’t like omelettes. There are so many factors working against your quest for coolness in the gym, that I really don’t understand those lucky few who manage to remain smiling, poised and gorgeous.

While using my free 7-day pass at the very flash Nuffield Health Gym in Surbiton this morning, which is a very beautiful gym filled with very beautiful people, I committed pretty much every uncool sin going. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) Trying to Drink Whilst Moving

I can barely take a sip of anything without chucking it down myself at the best of times, but when I’m bouncing along on a treadmill it’s a damned nightmare. One carefully-maneuvered glug of Lucozade resulted in Lucozade in my eye, Lucozade down my chest, Lucozade up my arm, and Lucozade on the treadmill control panel. All I could do was run blindly on and apologise to the lady on the treadmill next to me for getting Lucozade on her.

2) Pretending You Know How to Use a Machine

No one wants to study instructions in a gym – everyone’s way too cool for that. You are supposed to have an instinctive knowledge of how to operate the most complicated-looking machine in the world. As I don’t have this knowledge, I have to employ tactics. These tactics involve walking slowly past the machines whilst drinking from your bottle or studying your iPod, and giving very discreet sideways glances at the instruction panels on the machines.

If you need to stop and read the instructions more closely, you can do one of two things: stop and stretch, as though you’ve suddenly realised you must stretch your calf muscle RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, and discreetly run your eyes over the instructions – or stop and ‘gaze’ at the machine, as though you are lost in a daydream about how wonderful it is to be fit and healthy and how you’re taking this whole gym thing totally in your stride, but secretly you are frantically reading the instructions and trying to work out where in the name of Superwoman’s support pants are you supposed to sit on this ruddy thing.

I went for the stretching strategy, but made the fatal error of sitting down too soon on the machine, meaning I had give up the whole thing and just sit there and read the instructions like a big sweaty loser. As I was doing this, however, a skinny young lad walked past drinking very intensely from his water bottle, and I clocked him sneaking tentative sideways looks at the machines, which made me very happy indeed.

3) Thinking You Know How to Use the Machines

A variation of the above. I clambered onto what I knew was a back-strengthening machine, but as I got halfway onto it I couldn’t for the life of me work out where I was supposed to put my legs. After a few make-or-break seconds of desperately searching for an answer, I gave up, assumed an expression of ‘Oh I’ve just remembered I much prefer that machine over there’ and sloped off.

4) Getting Stuck in a Machine

A particularly bad one. I got my leg caught in a leg machine. As my calf caught between two rollers and I tried to walk off, I did the half-fall half-hop thing, nearly breaking my ruddy leg in the process, and eventually yanking my leg out and stumbling into a fitness instructor who was obviously trying to conceal a smirk.

Could’ve been worse I suppose.

5) Leaving Sweat Patches the Size of Germany

A common one, and it happens to everyone in a gym, but it’s so not cool. And every single time, you think ‘Well, maybe there won’t be a sweat patch – how much can my bum sweat while I’m doing some gentle shoulder presses?’ And every time the answer is: a lot. No matter how you attempt to get round it, whether you slide off the seat to try and spread the sweaty puddle so it looks like a harmless darker seat-covering, or whether you just leap up and immediately scrub at it to try and make it disappear, it’s always there, there’s no hiding it: a glistening back-end of a hippo that screams

YOU HAVE AN ENORMOUS SWEATING BOTTOM.

I’ve just got to accept that I shall never be one of those cool people who manage to handle the gym as though they are out for a spin in a limo with Tom Jones. It’s a skill I shall never possess, and I take my hat off to them. My horrible, sweaty hat.