It's life, gym, but not as we know it...
"Keep at it!" urges Alex, my training adviser, "you've only two-and-a-half minutes to go. You can do it!" Katie Jarvis is suffering at the gym
"Keep at it!" urges Alex, my training adviser, "you've only two-and-a-half minutes to go. You can do it!"
I'm on a road to nowhere - literally - cycling for all I'm worth. Five minutes eating popcorn, watching television, or (one of my personal favourites) asleep, goes in seconds. But on a static exercise bike, trying to keep some dial-thingy above 100 (whatever that means), five minutes lasts for at least half an hour.
I pride myself on a number of idiosyncratic achievements, though I use the word 'achievement' loosely. Wrongly, even. One of them is the boast that I've never set foot in a gym. My theory has always been that, if you want to exercise, then you live in the Cotswolds, for goodness sake! Walk the hills; go and dig an elderly neighbour's garden!
But the problem is that I don't. Not as often as I should, anyway. So here I am, in Fifth Dimension, Stroud's cutting-edge gym, having accepted an invitation to get fit in six months.
It's not the Large Hadron Collider, and we're not looking for the God particle, I accept that. But on my first afternoon, the machinery looks as complicated and the task as elusive. Alex sets me a personal work-out programme that looks suspiciously as if every setting is on minimum. But I'm not protesting. I might only be pulling 15kg weights - but have you tried lifting 15 bags of sugar? Nemesis in glucose form.
In some ways, I'm the perfect person to undertake this: bored by the concept of exercise; a reluctant participant who barely has time to read a book, never mind go to a gym twice (at least) a week: if I can do this, then anyone can... And, I grudgingly admit, it's not as bad as I thought; firstly, if I remember to bring headphones next time, I can plug into the TVs that are scattered conveniently around. Secondly, there's no doubt you feel better after exercise. Mens sana in corpore sano, and all that.
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After completing my first routine, which included running a marathon (a short walk on a running machine), rowing across the Amazon (bit of weights), and cycling the Tour de France (for five minutes), I discover I've lost 170 calories. 170 calories??? Two Quality Street? Surely I lose more than that simply deaminating amino acids?
Am I defeated? Certainly not: if anything, I'm more determined. Next time, I vow to lose at least a Crunchie.
Katie Jarvis will be training each week at Fifth Dimension at Ebley Wharf Mill, Ebley, Stroud; 01453 769120; www.fifthdimension.org.uk