Is it safe to go back to the gym yet?!
Is it safe to go back to the gym yet?!
A long, long time ago I used to dread Thursday nights at the gym.
Because that was Boring Couples night.
The protagonists would dress up in gym gear (so far so good) – and sometimes they’d even use the equipment! But most of the time they’d just sit on it chatting.
The whole impression was that of a Cocktail Hour in Lycra.
Had any one of these wretched single units that comprised the whole entity of the Thursday night invasion at any one point thought for itself and formulated the dreaded New Year Resolution?
I’ll never know. But I’m pretty sure that now, yes right now* – years later at the very start of 2017 – gyms, keep-fit classes and the like across the UK will be simply bulging with the predictable influx of people who simply wouldn’t be interested at any other time.
I am fully expecting to be struck down in the most Karma-like way imaginable for what I’m about to say next.
But in January my aim is always to avoid these New Year Resolution types if at all possible – if only to protect my sanity.
Anyone who reads this blog knows fitness is one of my coping strategies, a way of controlling the bits of my body I’m no so keen on.
And those wobbly bits need tackling 365 days a year – they don’t just suddenly appear on New Year’s Day like a late delivery from Santa!Imagine then, what it’s like to suddenly have to compete for time/space in what’s often a very personal fight.
So let’s say you do normally do an evening class and you rock up as usual….
Welllll, in January suddenly you can’t because it’s full – OR you’ve wised-up to the fact that too many sets of flailing arms in a limited space where you’re all holding hand-weights is just a tad dangerous.
(Trust me I have experience of both – and I hope the latter stays back in the nineties!)
As already said, I expect to be sent blazing to Hell for my arguably uncharitable opinions regarding what almost feels like a fight for territory but if YOU exercise regularly here are some tips to handle the New Year Resolution brigade:
10 New Year’s Resolution-ers To Avoid At The Gym including “Smart phone dummies”, “wannabe fitness models”, my pet-hate “the couples” and the inevitable “temps” (though hopefully all these characters will be temporary!)
And then there’s Men’s Health’s Crowded Gym Survival Guide – maybe a bit more brutal than I’d be but then hey, I’m not a body-builder…
I have no problems with anyone wanting to get fit (and I’m pretty sure the vast majority are not stereotypical pains-in-the-backside) but, when it’s a significant amount of people at the same time, then – well, I’m just going to have to shut up, aren’t I?!
Remember that, for most, the keep fit good intentions are as seasonal – and as short-lived, as the Festive Period itself
Plan around it – go to the earlier, less popular classes. Do more solo running
Be philosophical – it’s not that bad
Remember the reason I started this blog in the first place – I broke my foot. It’s mended!
For any people trying to avoid the gym hoards in the Bronx, NY, there’s GoJimgo on Twitter – which states: “Know before you go. We tell you how many machines are available at your gym. In real time.”
I’d love to know if this can work in practice – or in the UK!
*”Now”? Yes now! There are gyms that open 24/7!
I can’t say my Hanley Park Run antics today were in any way worthy of the Halloween theme – unless you count the most tenuous of links with the urge to throw up.
Pushing myself running tends to push certain bodily functions into the equation but thankfully that didn’t happen and another Personal Best was achieved!
The nausea kicked in after one zealously-tackled hill and again after finishing (I always feel compelled to redeem my slow self with a sprint at the end).
The Park Run I go to deploys pacers on the last Saturday of every month – so I’d got in the mind-set of following one.
Alas, there were none in my exact target range! (Though that’s a future plan..)
So I picked a trio of women from Stoke F.I.T. (Friends In Training) who did finish about 45 seconds ahead of me in the end.
Two of them kept up a steady babble of conversation which, when I was close enough to hear it, I tried to use to take my mind off my exertions!
We were overtaken by a family in fancy dress – now being overtaken always feels crap anyway, but when they’re in fancy dress?
A former colleague remembers the humiliation of being overtaken by Batman in the London Marathon and I myself have been bettered by Mr Potato Head in the Robin Hood Half in Nottingham, a race in which Scooby Doo regularly provides an indicator as to when it’s time to dig deep!
Back to Park Run and I watched the receding skeleton wings on the boy, with dad in a cloak – I also knew he was wearing a mask (reminiscent of Edvard Munch’s “Scream”) which made him sound like he was talking through a snorkel when, previously, he loomed behind us en famille
I had some hunch I’d done a good time when one of the organisers at the finish shouted “C’mon Emma?” – and looked a bit surprised to see me.
My Guerrilla training has contributed not only to a couple of personal bests in the last few weeks but also knocking a good couple of minutes off my previous time, so it would appear I have discovered the alchemy necessary to produce Personal Best “gold”.
I caught up with the Stoke F.I.T. trio and said I’d used them as pacemakers, hoped they didn’t mind and thanked them.
I felt I’d somehow “gate-crashed” their run but Laura, the first woman I spoke to, said that was fine – and to be honest, I don’t think they’d been too aware of my presence.
She said the chat, between two of them, had been aimed at taking the silent third one’s mind of her running (I think she had a bit of hip pain or something).
Laura added something like if you could speak about seven words a sentence without gasping whilst running then that’s a fair indicator your breathing’s okay.
Despite the fact that I normally talk a lot, I couldn’t have uttered one word at that pace!
Another of the trio, Kirsty, emphasised the point was to be helpful and nobody is ever left alone on a Stoke F.I.T. training run – they’ll come back for you if need be.
This generosity of spirit is not just confined to team-mates, it extends to other runners too.
“It’s the club ethos. You can always tell if someone’s a ‘Fitter’ ‘cos that’s what we do”.
Once I’d fuelled up with tea and hot buttered toast at the Park Run Café, I joined another “Fitter” on the walk home, and got more running advice.
Lee advised me to “push from my glutes” (buttock muscles!) when running up hills (“it’s easier to push than pull”).
Isn’t it amazing? Slow or not, I’ve loved running since I was a teenager and I’m still learning!
Imagine if somebody collapsed in front of you – and you had the chance of stopping them dying.
Having an accessible, fool-proof machine that could save a life installed in your community should be a no-brainer, right?
Automated External Defibrillators, (AEDs), mean people who are not even trained in first aid can still keep a cardiac arrest patient alive until ambulance personnel arrive.
They work by “shocking” a person’s heart into restarting within the crucial first few minutes – and can ensure a 60 to 70 per cent chance of making a full recovery.
Ambulance bosses want these to be as common as fire extinguishers.
I am told the 999 operator will give you the code to unlock the device from where it’s mounted (so it can’t be stolen, obviously).
Then the machine guides you through with spoken instructions. – once you’ve attached the pads to the patient – the machine will assess the need for CPR, and only deliver the shock should it be needed.
In other words, anyone who’s inclined to panic (and let’s face it people do!) being reassured they will not be making the situation any worse.
Ambulances bosses I interviewed said the number of AEDs needs to be boosted five-fold in the county (there are currently about 1,000).
But they stressed that local people must come forward and tell them where they’re needed.
So of course, I thought – well, why not moot the idea of having one where I live? Obviously the easiest way to get the discussion going was – in my local!
The first person I spoke to, apart from emphasising that yes, the devices were fool-proof, said that ordinary CPR was just as effective, but as we were literally just up the road from the local ambulance station, he wasn’t sure that a request to have a community defibrillator would be approved.
A charity offering support getting these things installed is specifically asking people to come forward if you don’t have one within 200 metres of where you are!
The issue of panicking is one that we all agreed was very pertinent, but would it stop people having a go?
I then made a point of approaching another guy who’s a key player in the local residents’ committee – and surprise, surprise, they’re already in the process of getting one, having only just discussed the matter at their meeting last week.
Which I am very glad to hear. I still passed on the relevant contact details.
Authorities say the number of AEDs in one local town is four – but when you get out to another rural area, that figure rises to nearer sixteen.
In other roads, there would appear to be more self-sufficiency in the remoter areas, whereas an element of complacency remains, the more urban you get.
That attitude did appear to prevail in my straw poll, although I’m pretty confident most people do not think “there’s an ambulance ‘round every corner”.
I’m hoping that, for everybody’s sake, we won’t be denied an AED because of the ambulance station down the hill. And that we really will “be getting one”.
(Please note: the views expressed in this article are my own and not related to any organisation I work for.)
Remember sports presenter Jonty Sargeant? Well he’s featured in two of my blog posts here – and it’s good news of a very modest nature.
He informs me he’s playing five-a-side every Tuesday night, and has been doing so for the past month.
As you will recall, Jonty twisted the Anterior Cruciate Ligament of his right knee in a tackle during a game playing for his radio station’s team two years ago.
This resulted in surgery, a long recovery period and arguably, a wariness about playing sport that could remain with him for life.
Jonty’s philosophical and enjoys his work interviewing top players and presenting sports programmes.
But it’s still great to know he’s back playing football – albeit in five-a-side.
And I like good news. Don’t you?
The only text I’d add to this is that Marilyn, of course, was no stranger to jogging, before it became “fashionable”. She also sustained an ankle injury which may have compromised her exercise plans.
Who knows? Arguably that wouldn’t matter to someone this beautiful…
But if an injury’s stopping you achieving the body you’re aiming for – let her be your inspiration!