It’s That Time of (New) Year Again

A long, long time ago I used to dread Thursday nights at the gym.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!pejo3hh7nq2dsjlkgmhpImagine 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….

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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!)

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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!)zoolander-the_look_you_have

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?!

My tactics?this-guy-at-the-gym-just-did-four-sets-of-selfies

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!

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A life-saving device? It’s up to the community

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Action taken within minutes can save lives

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.

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You don’t have to be a superhero

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.

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The 999 call handler should be able to give the unlocking code (Pic: BBC)

Like, hello?

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.)

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Machines like this one tell you what to do

A Champion Swimmer’s Story of Survival

Well, I promised that you’d be meeting some inspirational people in this Blog – and here’s the first of them, a swimming champion who underwent open heart surgery when he was just two days old.

This will be the second time Sam has represented GB in the World Transplant Games
This will be the second time Sam has represented GB in the World Transplant Games

Let me just say – this story has left me feeling very humbled, and really puts things in perspective.

Sam Griffiths, now aged 14, went on to have five more major operations. On several occasions doctors told his family they might have to say goodbye to him.

A heart transplant at the age of eight was the turning point, and since then – through a mixture of talent and sheer determination – he was picked to  represent Great Britain in the World Transplant Games in South Africa in 2013. He won four gold medals and one silver in South Africa in 2013, and he also smashed two world records.

He’s been selected to represent GB a second time in this summer’s event in Argentina – and a campaign is now underway to raise £12,000 to get him there.

Before his transplant, Sam spent his childhood in and out of hospital
Before his transplant, Sam spent his childhood in and out of hospital

Sam, who comes from Silverdale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme in North Staffordshire, told me; “I feel honoured to have that opportunity to do something that big that no-one could regularly do.”

Belonging to a family of swimmers, he was simply too ill to join in before his transplant.

His mum Nicola said; “After two minutes in the pool he’d have to get back out and go on oxygen because he was in a wheelchair and on oxygen because the oxygen in his blood was too low because his heart was that deformed.

Sam has already smashed two world records
Sam has already smashed two world records

“All his siblings swam, I swam, his dad swam, we all competed, his siblings were very good in the water, but he had to watch from the side because he couldn’t get in because he was so poorly.”

She stressed that, even after the surgery that saved his life, they still have to be careful; “His heart now is basically like our hearts, it’s absolutely fine. He takes a lot of medication, we have to make sure he doesn’t get any infections because he’s got a lowered immune system and that will always be the case. Transplant is just a good way of getting quality of life.”

“I think my story proves that no matter what odds may be stacked against you and however many times you want to give up you have to be brave and try! Anything is possible!” Sam Griffiths, on his Just Giving page

If you want to make a donation and help Sam on his way then go to https://www.justgiving.com/nicola-griffiths9/

Listen to my interview with Nicola Griffiths on Signal http://www.signal1.co.uk/news/local/staffs-teen-hopes-to-represent-gb-at-world-transplant-games/