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Shedding the shackles

Around 1.30 this afternoon I walked into my gym and cancelled my membership.

As you’ve oft heard me mention, one of my real bug-bears about city dwelling is the hamster-wheel style exercise that gyms force us into. Round and round on a running machine that goes nowhere, backwards and forwards on a rowing apparatus that has never seen water, and spinning on a bike that has never touched a road. Yes, it’s exercise in its purest form but I find it so BORING. There’s no wind in my hair, no satisfaction delivered by an amazing view, and certainly no fresh air to appreciate when you slow down.

All that aside, I have patiently, and uncomplainingly (well – most of the time) gone to the gym before work 3 – 4 times a week for the past 2 1/2 years.

I have clambered onto a bike every Monday morning and let some testosterone crazed megalomaniac shout at me for 45 minutes while every single part of my body (including my eyeballs) sweats enough moisture to maintain one of Danny’s tomato plants.

On Wednesdays I have watched as the bendiest woman I’ve ever seen tries to convince me that touching my toes with my nose is just a matter of willpower and good breath control.

On Thursdays I’ve dumped 22kg of weights onto a dumbbell and squatted up and down in time to a dance version of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

And on the odd motivated Friday (usually brought on by an excessive consumption of cakes during the week) I have clambered onto the running machine, attached my iPod to my left bicep, and run a few miles at a hill gradient of 1.0 as someone once told me that that ensures you can seamlessly transfer running indoors to outdoors (in my experience that hasn’t been the case but the paradigm won’t shift).

All in all, the weeks have been a variation of the above for about 30 months, and cancelling my membership was a momentous occasion. It is the first shackle that I’ve shed which physically signifies my move from city dweller to St Ives dweller. It’s also a budget and time based decision. With everything going on at the moment I need both my evenings and mornings. Evenings with Danny for organising, planning, and discussing, and mornings for clarity, peace and preparation (and a little extra sleep). Trying to fit in the gym, along with the guilt suffered when I don’t manage it, just doesn’t seem worth it.

And I have to say – it feels good… it was wonderful to wander into the sweaty, noisy circus that is my gym in The Plaza on Oxford Street, and not do anything but have a drink of water and fill in a form: And it felt good to wake up this morning knowing that of all the things in store for me today, struggling up a deserted, dark Oxford Street to an over-heated, over-air-conditioned environment wasn’t going to be one of them; and it will feel even better when £70 doesn’t come out of my account next month.

I am pleased to report that I am suffering no pangs of guilt, no need to desperately justify what I’m going to do instead, and no fear of what the gym bunnies I know will think of me. It was just one of those priorities that is no longer a priority; there are more important things in life for the next 12 months or so. It’s exciting and freeing, and tangible evidence of how my life is going to change beyond all recognition.

Vicky Strickland says:

Well done my lovely, that must have felt good. Soon the only exercise you will need is with your dog! (hopefully the plan is still to get one!) Then there will be plenty of wind swept hair and amazing views!

Steve says:

This might sound a bit odd – but when our house purchase was confirmed …
one of my favourite moments was watching the weather forecast on telly – and shifting my gaze on the weather map – from the bit in the middle to the bit at the very bottom left hand corner!