Friday, May 25, 2007
I went to the gym but there was no point
Fitness saboteurs. Let’s see - there’s the high price of gym membership and the fact that between home and the office there are a million places to buy doughnuts, hot chips, roasted nuts or pizza or a cookie or a pint or a large Coke for the price of a small or a vanilla frappacinno with hazelnut syrup… and that’s just in the station.

And there’s work and there’s laziness and there’s fatigue and there’s the friend you don’t even really like that much but who rings you at 5pm to suggest a drink and well – even if they are sort of dull, they are infinitely more fun than 20 minutes on the treadmill.

And there’s your favourite show on tellie which is on that night– you know the one about obese people having stomach staple surgery (the one that you watch with a hefty dose of schadenfreude – thinking well at least I’m not that bad) which you can’t miss because then you won’t know if Kenny does wake up after the op and if the producers of the show are going to throw in a free liposuction to suck away the hanging folds of skin that accompany such dramatic weight loss.

And then there’s the fact that you hate the gym. That you think it really is the worst place in the world - a sort of Hades. But instead of Elysian Fields or Tartarus there is the Spin Studio or the Weight’s Room.

The figures of this particular underworld are not briny or gloomy – instead they are bulging grotesquely with their awful muscles and they smell of sweat and for dinner they mix various protein powders together to form an undrinkable shake.

And their idea of perfection is their own bodies (with their uninteresting and conventional symmetry) and their gaze never strays too far from the phalanx of mirrors which beams their own magnificence back at them in such a perfect retelling of the Narcissus myth is a wonder they don’t crack up from the irony of it all.

Then there’s the wait for the stepper and the music videos that pump out clips where the women have unrealistic breasts and the men are sneering and unappealing and the music is all wrong.

And in between there are advertisements broadcast at high volume urging you to introduce your friends to Hades and you can get a free backpack, and you have to bite your tongue until it bleeds to stop from screaming “I am not a Judas, I will not betray my friends and lead them here!”

And there are clumps of hair in the shower and a grubby band-aid and the air is misty and hot with the CFC’s from spray-on deodorants and there are too many bare breasts swinging into your sight-line and you can never remember where your locker is so you walk round the mists and the naked flesh, dank and wretched in excesses of your own sweat, low with self-loathing after watching the misogynist video clips, tormented from the mirrors that render multiples of your own imperfect flesh…. yes the gym – it’s difficult to get motivated to go there.

But last night I did. I overcame all that and I went. For an hour. And then I went home and ate a large pie.

Now I hate myself even more.

What is the point of anything!!!?

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Pilates makes me drool
First group exercise last night after work at the nasty old gym. Picked out pilates. My dad does pilates.

When I found out I called him a girl. He’s man enough to shrug off the insult. Then I bring up the time when he accidentally brought J-Lo style pink sunglasses from a roadhouse (pink love heart with diamantes in the right hand corner) and then tried to claim that he was in a hurry and was also blinded by the harsh sunlight so he didn’t notice the feminine details until he had paid for them and it was too late.

So I was in a pilates class at the gym, thinking about my dad and laughing about him doing pilates and wearing pink sunglasses (although not all at once) which was nice because it meant I was not thinking about what I was doing – which was something not very amusing or fun.

I was on all fours in a ‘cat position’ and my t-shirt was gaping to reveal my eastern-bloc style grey sports bra, so I was trying to stop the gape by clutching it between my teeth, which stimulated a large amount of drool while a man in a German accent was telling us to slowly lift our left leg into the air.

I tried not to think too much about how I looked. I had my t-shirt in my mouth, I was sweating and dribbling and my leg was cocked in the manner of a dog urinating.

Today I am walking like an elderly person. I am regretting purchase of the said t-shirt - I cannot continue walking round with it in my mouth to stop it gaping.

I am also regretting the casual insult to my father. There is nothing girly about pilates. Just something slightly weird, creepy and unnatural.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I stole from the gym but got caught
It is a commonly heard lament – “my gym is ripping me off!”

Pals, still flabby and unfit watch as the pounds drop out via direct debit from their accounts rather than the pounds dropping off their arse or face or the places where pounds are meant to disappear from.

One friend still mournfully talks of a swanky Sydney gym that he visited twice in 12 months. “One thousand dollars a swim,” he says almost with wonder. “One thousand dollars… for a swim…. in a little hot pool.”

I too have paid for gym memberships long after resigning myself to periods of sloth and inactivity (or have moved cities) due to the money muncher that is direct debit.

So it was in this spirit of feeling thoroughly ripped off – totally scammed, terribly disillusioned with the unholy alliance of capitalism and health – that I decided to rip off a gym.

It's not an easy task to fleece a fleecer – particularly since the gym I wanted to exploit was a multinational, squillion dollar chain that employs an army of young eagle eyed, muscle building little fitties. Just the sort to chase you down the street or wind you with a medicine ball.

Nonetheless I felt a sort of surge of self-righteousness as I plotted and planned my theft from the evil, multinational gym chain.

I had in my possession a card of 30 visits to the EG (Evil Gym) – but the card had a ten day shelf life. “Typical EG behaviour!” I thought. “They give with one hand but the take with another. Who would go to the gym three times a day?”

Taking a wobbly black biro in an unsteady hand I changed the date. That’s right – I changed the 4 to an 8 – so instead of having ten measly days to use my 30 visit card I had months.

The fleece went well for the first week. I handed my forged card over at times of HCV (High Customer Volume) when the clerks would be too stretched to check the fairly appalling forgery I had done. The anxiety was high but each time I passed through the turnstile unchallenged I felt a little surge of victory.

My allocated ten days came and went. I luxuriated in the seemingly limitless ocean of time. I lounged across the bench press, I slept on the cross-trainer, I watched hours of television from a stationary stepper.

The EG provide free soft drink and newspapers. I hung out. I took long showers. When my bathroom was being renovated the EG gym became a de facto home. And I felt at home – I really did. I had oodles of time and I wasn’t paying a cent in gym fees. I had won. I was ripping off a gym!

Then one day when I skipped in for a yoga class and handed my pass over, the blade descended.
“We might hang onto your card Miss Delaney, if that’s okay, while you take your class.”

Who was this beady eyed little ******?

Why did he want to ‘hang onto’ my card?

Sweat slipped from my chin onto my forgery – smudging my handiwork even more. Drats! Would it end this way – just before yoga? My class hadn’t even started and suddenly I felt all sweaty and gross.

After the class I was told that my card had been ‘confiscated’ and I was to return the next day to meet with the manager.

I had been caught!! Stealing from the EG!! Just when I got the hang of the bench press too!

I acted cool though: “Yah, I’ll come and see him – what of it,” I said in the manner of Vicki Pollard in a Little Britain sketch. “Yah, I ain’t done nothing wrong. Ya gonna give me my card back or wot?”

“When you come in and see the manager,” said the man.

I never went back to see the manager. I never went back to that gym. They had my hot little forged card in their nasty little office, and my word, if I went back in there, I may even be arrested.

I could imagine my defence – “I did this for every person that has ever been ripped off by a gym.” Sort of like a fitness Robin Hood.

But I doubt it would have washed. That’s the thing about EG’s. They always win.

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Monday, May 21, 2007
The nastiest machine in the world
There’s a nasty machine in this horrible dark basement gym that I have been avoiding. The scales. They are a grey metal and look very grim – like something you might find in an abattoir or a prison.

I step up to the (grey metal) plate. Yikes! Somehow without me noticing 5kg have crept on. The scales must be broken.

There is a queue behind me to use the scaly old scales. It feels like being at a cash point where no money is coming out (account is empty, wrong PIN number, overdrawn) where it is intimidating to try the machine again, but totally necessary.

Ok – second go. Mmm – no change. “The scales are broken,” I tell the skinny, sweaty dude behind me. “They take your normal weight and then they add 5 kilograms. Don’t be alarmed – I’ll get them to fix it.”

It turns out the scales aren’t broken. I have just put on weight. The women who broke the news to me about the scales gives me some BMI chart. It turns out not only do I need to lose the 5 but also another 3kg. I feel sad.

Weight loss, while an admirable goal, is actually the most dreary, boring concept in the world. To go on a diet is to say ‘I am now going to be unfun.’

It is the person who has the mineral water at the pub. It is the girl who orders the salad at the French restaurant. It is the bore that constantly talks about food in tones that oscillate between longing and fear.

I am someone that has had few hang-ups about food. I enjoy cooking it and I love eating it. If I want a bowl of pasta then I’ll have it – it’s been a fairly uncomplicated, sweet, mutually satisfying relationship. It seems now I’ll have to assess such a joyful lassiez faire relationship lest I want to join the ranks of the obese.

It is with a heavy heart (and body) then that I honoured my commitment to meet my friend Chet at a neighbourhood French bistro last night. We shared a half bottle of red wine and I ordered mussels for a starter and a sea bass main. They were yummy, buttery and rich. The bread was sweet, the conversation lively, the wine velvety.

I enjoyed my food without guilt or complications. Then I felt depressed. Under the new healthy regime I will be girl with mineral water and salad.

Any food related tips from you guys? I don't really want to head down to the bookshop and buy a diet book. :(

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Welcome to the diary of a reluctant exerciser. Having previously shunned fitness regimes in favour of bacon sandwiches, Brigid Delaney vows to finally shape up, get fit and eat more healthily. Over the next three months read how she gets on in a brave new world of gyms, exercise classes and no bacon sandwiches.
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