Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Will You Witness The Fitness, Or Talk Of The Pork?

So, Vinny Testaverde. For those who don't know who this is, suffice to say he's a very famous American Football player. He was on telly last night, still plugging away at the grand old age of 42, not doing particularly well, it has to be said, but nonetheless, gotta admire the dedication.

Despite a night of four turnovers and few passing yards, he still wasn't abysmal. However, I'm less interested in his playing record than his fitness levels. The man has a gym in his home, and has kept detailed notes of every single session in his gym since 1990. To think I was worried I was becoming anal about this blog.

For the fourth time in as many weeks, Vinny realises he forgot to tape 'American Idol.'

All this is of considerable interest to me at the moment, because I'm about to join the gym. Yup, me, Mr Cynical, who regards the gym as one of the most loathsome steps backward in human times, is about to sell his soul.

The gym is the most crushing edifice of the post-postmodern era. Gone is the feeling that people can look how they damn well please, to be replaced by the desire, wholly lacking in any form of irony, to punish oneself in a manner determined to make the individual as constantly driven for meaningless improvement.

Everything about the gym is problematic. First off is joining the institution in the first place. I have had to acquire something called a 'cheque guarantee card' to even join, presumably because they think I would bounce them if I could. They're right, of course, but there you go. Then there's the price. I'm in at a snip, £130 - £140 for twelve months, but in London, folks can look forward to bills of nearly four hundred quid at the average establishment.

Then there's the other patrons. Buff, aggressive, Testaverde types who are still going to be canoeing the Atlantic well into their fifties, when those of us of a more sensitive disposition are just about starting to crumble. These are fellows who 'treat their body as a temple.' As a militant atheist, I treat my body as a temple too - I abuse it day and night.

So, why am I going down a road well trodden by Judas and Brutus before me? Well, first off, I want to know what they're all so smug about. Is punishing yourself on a treadmill as much fun as another double-stuffed-crust pizza? It sure doesn't look it, but there must be some good reason it's nearly full every night. Are they enjoying 'Fear And Self-Loathing In The Fitness Suite?'

Then there's the importance of it all. Gym is a fad; in ten years, cool will be back to the seventies, and people won't need the gym because they'll all be on a five drug cocktail of appetite suppressants. I will be able to say 'I was there. I was a part of it.' Plus, who could deny the anthropological significance of it? Who goes to the gym? I want income streams, family histories, written assessments from the housing authorities. If not, I'll have to make do with prejudiced judgements based on whether or not their tracksuits are made by Adidas, but at least I'll be informatively prejudiceed, and not ignorantly so.

So, my comrades, wish me luck, for I soon step into the abyss. I'll keep you posted on progress.

Is the 'gym experience' like the Eric Prydz video? Or is it, as I rather suspect, more like a country club for people who could never afford the tweeds?

Sadly the gym is nothing like the Eric Prydz video, although they do show it a loton the TVs. The gym I attend is full of obese women who cry during their induction, men who overload the weights machines and grunt loudly and a few fairly ordinary people. Speaking as someone fonder of a bottle of wine and curry than a brisk walk I can't say I've ever felt out of place. Oh and the health nazis are right on this one, it does make you feel better....eventually.
Just make sure the instructors doing your induction show you how to use the ergs [rowing machines] properly. It makes me cringe to see how many people row so badly on those things, and you can really fuck up your back if you do it wrongly.

My gym has one 'character', an old bloke who's clearly utterly insane. He cannot work out how to set up any of the machines and so has to get somebody to stop their own workout to start his, and then shouts to all and sundry "Hard work, these bikes! Like they say, no pain no gain!!" with a strangely haunted grin on his face. I just wanted to slap him, but I then took pity on him and realised that he'd be dead before me. So that's OK then.
Once upon a time SafeTinspector was an amateur body builder.
I hated the sisyphus aspect of the edeavor.
You must never, ever stop, and you are never, ever finished.
I quit.
I now watch what I eat and play an aerobic game a few times a week. Yet I am still quite soft-in-the middle.
But I don't care. I am happy, and I don't have to smell the gym anymore.
And here I was, under the impression that men went to gyms to stare, slack-jawed at the forest of jiggling lady-bits on display.

Can I just say, I love the expression "forest of jiggling lady-bits"? I may have to work that into my next post at some point.

And about Vinny Testaverde: kudos to the guy for even turning out for the Jets. Not surprising he had a bit of a nightmare, playing in the NFL in his 40s. That's roughly the equivalent of Bryan Robson and Steve Bruce turning out for Man Utd now.
I'm agreed on the expression 'forest of jiggling lady-bits.' Consider it appropriated for use in general conversation.

Paul, you're rigth about Vin. I was impressed by his dedication - he even rang them for the job, not the other way around.

I'm only envious. I'll never be that fit, I don't suppose.
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