Friday 30 October 2009

How Can I Get Fit?

Last night I made an arse of myself in front of strangers (yet again)!

I arrived home from work, as usual, ranting to myself about work and discovered that Mrs PM wasn’t home. With monumental self control I forced myself to calm down, forgetting the rigours of the day, breathing in slowly and meditating. And then I realised it was my turn to cook.

“OK,” I said to myself. “I can do this. I can keep calm. What I need is a little Heavy Metal and I can cope with anything.”

I switched on my computer and went straight for my new Rammstein album, carefully selecting “Bückstabü”, the track that was most likely to blast any stress away in a tsunami of noise.

With Till Lindemann growling in the background, I opened the fridge.


I looked at my watch and saw that the time was five to six. Five minutes before the local newsagent closed. Five minutes! It was a ten minute walk away.

“I could run,” I told myself.

With Rammstein blasting away, I grabbed my coat and before I could say “Bückstabü” I was out the door running down the street like an Olympic athlete.

As I approached the corner, two young women watched me with interest.

I ran past them and could have sworn that I heard “I didn’t know baboons ran like girls” amidst a fit of giggles. I didn’t care. My focus was my mission – to buy a carton of milk.

I arrived at the shop. It was then that I realised that I am a totally unfit forty seven year old man. I staggered over to the fridge and held on for support as the woman behind the counter watched me impatiently. She wanted to close the shop and a middle-aged pillock passing out would have made her life slightly irritating.

I gasped like a chain smoker as I approached the woman.

I meant to say, “Just the milk please,” but I think it came out as “JUSSERMELK” as I gasped for air.

“What?” said the woman. If I had been able to read her mind I’m sure I would have heard “Are you one of those people who make obscene phone calls?” I must have sounded like a complete pervert.

Somehow I managed to pay. I left the shop still gasping for breath with sweat running down my forehead and my back. I noticed the two young women were still watching me from a distance and I had to pass them on my way home.

Like a pillock, I decided to run again. Why? Call it some primeval urge but deep inside my addled brain, the male within said “You have to run past these girls. DON’T BE WEAK! YOU ARE A MAN!”

So like a moron, I ran. And I sprinted. As I passed them, I smiled.

“Hey look! I’m a middle-aged man who can sprint like Usain Bolt.” I wanted to say.

If I had been able to speak, it would have come out like “URRRRRGHHH! GIEARRRLLLLS”

They laughed at me. Not the way that girls laugh when they are flirting; they actually laughed as if they really had seen a crazy muppet, leering at them as he stumbled past. Instead of looking like Usain Bolt, I resembled a giant waddling baboon who had painted his face bright red and then had a shower in rancid sweat. My hair made my appearance even more bizarre.

I have a feeling that one of the women took a photo with their camera phone, so expect to see a bloated, smiling, half-dead baboon on You Tube or Facebook in the near future.

I arrived home and collapsed in the chair, sweating like a man who had just run a marathon. My heart was doing a fine impersonation of a drum solo. I had run for around ten minutes and it felt like I had just sprinted across Europe.

Jasper, our fat cat, wandered over and stared at me. I saw the words in his eyes: “You bloody idiot. By the way – can I have some food?”

All this has told me what I already knew. I need to get fit.

I used to be extremely fit. At school, I was a cross country runner and used to sprint around local streets delivering newspapers as well as playing football and rugby. I was one of the fastest kids in my school year and was happy running 100m, 200m, 800m, 1500m and even 3000m.

At university, I swam at least three times a week; I played squash and badminton and jogged.

At work, I played 5-a-side football twice a week and swam. I gave this up in my mid-thirties but joined a gym and only stopped going there around five years ago. Since then, my exercise regime has been walking and the occasional bike ride. Pathetic really!

When I look at my body (believe me – I don’t want to but somebody has too), I see a man who is putting on weight, slowly but surely. My gut is increasing in size; I can see flab appearing in places that I thought flab could never exist. I am sliding down the slippery slope to having a middle-aged spread.

Friends are kind – “You’re still quite slim, Dave. What’s the matter with you?” said one of Mrs PM’s friends last week. “If you are worried about your weight, just start exercising again.”

This is the problem – I want to start exercising again but I am lazy and, despite my war against procrastination, I am still procrastinating in areas such as this.

I could cycle to work but I am too sluggish in the mornings. My workplace is less than five miles from home and I drive there. Why? Because I wake up at 7am and in order to cycle, I would really need to get up an hour earlier. So, as you can see, I am a totally lazy git.

I could rejoin the gym. However, I have a couple of problems with this.

First, the gym is boring. Running on a treadmill is tedium personified. Cycling on a cycling machine is so mind-numbing that I almost fall asleep. Cross trainer machines are even more boring.

Second, the gym is embarrassing. When I am running on a running machine, I feel like a pillock. I can see people watching me, thinking “He runs like a demented road runner”. Worse, I find my eyes drifting towards female runners, particularly those in front of me.

I am a male – I can’t help it.

When a woman runs in a gym, she is usually very fit (in more ways than one) and I find myself staring in admiration, only to be glared at when she notices the lecherous goon leering at her. Of course, because I have been running, I am all sweaty, red, and gasping like a colossal pervert as I try to justify myself.

This isn’t the only source of embarrassment though. When you go to the weight machines to “pump some iron” (or in my case “give myself a hernia trying to lift a weight”), there is nothing more soul destroying than taking over from men who make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Mr Bean. On one occasion, I was waiting to use the shoulder press and as I approached it, I found a huge black shiny man with muscles the size of Manchester leaning against it.

“Is it free?” I asked politely.

“Not just yet,” he boomed with a voice so deep that the floor shook.

I waited patiently as he started using the machine again. I goggled at the amount of weight he was lifting – and he made it look so easy. His rippling muscles mocked me as I watched, so I casually turned around and leaned up against the adjacent wall. Two minutes later, he appeared beside me.

“It’s free now,” he boomed and slapped me so hard on the back that I literally almost fell to the floor.

“Sorry about that,” he said smiling. “You need to bulk up, my friend.”

He then flexed his muscles for effect. Women who happened to be passing started giggling. My new found friend then stood in front of a mirror with other like-minded and equally massive individuals and began posing before lifting unfeasibly large quantities of weights. I felt absolutely useless.

When I started using the machine, I reduced the weights to the minimum, which was all I required. My friend watched me for a few seconds and chuckled to himself as he lifted another enormous pile of metal.

My final problem with gyms is the cost. When I joined the gym, I remember passing out when the trainer told me how much it cost per month. I had to force myself to go three times a week at least to justify the cost. In the end, procrastination took over and I stopped going – otherwise it would have been more cost effective burn a wad of cash once a month.

So I am not going to join a gym.

With winter approaching, my desire to do any form of physical exercise is diminishing. The days are cold and the nights are becoming long and dark as well as the weather becoming much worse. Should I start jogging around my neighbourhood in the rain? I don’t think so. Should I cycle in the dark and risk being smeared over the bonnet of a car? That doesn’t appeal much to me.

I think I’ll wait until New Year. – I know what my resolution will be: to get myself fit for a brand new decade. And I’m going to set myself targets and actually start in January. I know, dear reader that you are thinking to yourself “Why not start now you lazy arse?”

The problem is that I need to psyche myself up – but that will take a month or two. Of course, I realise that things could go downhill so I need to stop the rot – soon!

I have a goal - by the time I’m fifty I want to be slim and fit and not some fat lump of flab wobbling around Manchester before trying to crowbar myself back into my house.

I will cycle to work. I will walk and walk and walk. I may even run.

And finally - a message to those two young women who mocked me so mercilessly last night: come next year, I will still be a baboon – but at least I’ll be healthy (as long as I can learn to run properly).

And please don’t put me on Facebook or You Tube.


Kath Lockett said...

"Running on a treadmill is tedium personified."

No, it isn't. Not with some running playlists you devise yourself (put in Rammstein if you must) and don't do it at the gym - buy one and use it at home. Mine cost me $2500 and just the cost alone - and the space in our tiny shed it takes up - is enough to make me use it.

Oh and the way it keeps my weight down, makes me feel utterly vibrant and brilliant for the rest of the day; allows me to inhale obscene amounts of chocolate and gives me 40 minutes (for running) or an hour (for walking) of top quality alone and thinking time.

Do it!

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

$2500 => £1375 roughly.

mmm I'm not sure I could justify the cost to Mrs PM and I wouldn't know where to put it.

Cycling appeals more - I actually quite like it - although I do see the appeal of running and walking to music. I must admit that the feeling after an hour's activity at sport or a good session at the gym does make you feel absolutely brilliant. I miss that.

Right - I will do something - I just have to consider what. Another target to add to the procrastination list - the war continues.




River said...

Yeah, I keep telling myself I must get fit, lose weight, tone up etc., then the weather warms up and I melt if I do much more than walk to and from work, or it gets cold and I find I can't move away from the heater except to walk to and from work.....
Oh bugger it, I'm just a lazy so and so.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Yeah - you and me both. I don't want to admit it but - yup - I too am a lazy so and so.




Lilize said...

oh, you're not in bad shape at all. i can barely make a run from my room to the kitchen. i walk there in order to get some chips and crawl back to bed. hummm..

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Lilize,

Sounds good to me. I just wish all that "bad" food was good for you. Imagine if your doctor said "I'm puttking you on a diet - just chip, crisps, burgers and chocolate for you laddy. And no more of this "water" nonsense - you MUST drink beer - and lots of it".

I can dream ...




Robin Easton said...

OMG!!!! I started reading this the other day and then had to meet a work deadline and so I came back today and I am just rolling on the floor laughing my "arse" off at you. You so so so sooooooooooooo dang funny. The whole thing with the girls watching you has me still laughing. You HAVE GOT TO WRITE A COLUMN or SOMETHING. YES I AM SHOUTING AT YOU!!! LOLOLOL!!! :)

You are so bursting with talent that it blows my mind. As to the exercise...

This is what I would do. Find something that is physical that you LOVE doing and then do that to get fit. Because if you don't just LOVE LOVE LOVE doing it, you probably won't continue. Also find an exercise buddy who will do it with you. Preferably someone who is more committed than you are, some who is domineering enough to bully you into getting going, and someone who is fanatical enough to keep you going.

SO? What physical activity do you LOVE LOVE LOVE doing? (I am refraining from physical activity innuendos here - I bit my tongue and will continue). If you don't know of any that you LOVE LOVE LOVE make a list of ALL the physical activities that you can think of and then try them. If nothing else, by the time you have worked your way through them you WILL be fit.

And so, there you have it, advice from Dr. NakedinEden!!

LOLOLOL!!!! I know, I know, I've been no help at all and my humor isn't even as good as yours. So I will slink away and go for my DAILY 10 mile jog.

Ookay okay this time I'm outta here!!! Here's to happy sweating! :))

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Dr NakedInEden :0)

Yes - I do need to find something I love. I used to enjoy playing football and that really kept me going - but I'm too old for that now. An exercise buddy is also a fab idea - I will need somebody with a lot of patience though.

Thanks again for the kind words.




Adam said...

Slightly more interesting than a treadmill and an awful lot cheaper - try a skipping rope? I don't really do resolutions but last year I decided to learn how to skip and found it more fun and more tiring per minute than running! I just did it in the back yard or on the front drive and if you work up to three three-minute rounds you're doing pretty well!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Adam,

Really? I didn't have you down as one who skipped. To be honest, I used to do it in my youth, spurred on by films of boxers skipping for fitness. I used to run as well at the time and I tell you what, my legs ached in places that I never thought aches were possible.

mmm - worth thinking about