Wednesday, 10 February 2010


NO BEER in GYM!, originally uploaded by roboppy.

On the 137 and just over Albert Bridge into town, turning onto Deansgate at the corner where Pizzeria Italia used to be, a familiar sight rolled into view. A pair of 'double baggers'; briefcase/manbag in one hand, sports bag slung over the shoulder, a purposeful stride to/from the gym. It's a cult which has grown in size over recent years. Fertilized by relentless government health-scare adverts, media body fascism and the rise of Macdonaldlike gym franchises (do people still go to ‘The Y’?).

As you may have already guessed, Gyms Aren't For Me. It's not that I don't see their value, it's the rigmarole surrounding them which leaves me cold. That, and the decades-long trail of misery which leads back to school, sadistic gym teachers and pointless physical activity. I did once, a few years back, join a gym. It was being provided free through work and it seemed rude not to. So I bought a pair of shorts, selected a suitably baggy t-shirt and put myself through the induction process. So far, so good.

Flushed with success I booked myself on a tai chi course which started at 8am, meaning I would be able to do it before going to work. Tai chi because it felt like something which was about something which wasn't about 'going to the gym'. I knew I wasn't ready for the Olivia Newton John-soundtracked mouse on a wheel activity I'd observed previously through gym windows, or in the videos for dodgy Euro-rave tunes. So, Tai Chi. With everybody else who was in denial about going to a gym.

On the day, as it turned out, I was the only person there. An hour's worth of Tai Chi one on one with a tutor, complete with sixty-minutes strained, pointless conversation. That wasn’t the worst thing, however. The worst thing was The Changing Room. Cold, sterile and weird-smelling. Like changing rooms always are, always have been and probably always will be. Did I want to voluntarily put myself into that environment on a weekly basis? No. I never went back. And that’s why I can never be a ‘double-bagger’.

Thanks to roboppy on flickr for the use of the picture.

1 comment:

  1. Franchise Gyms built on brownfield retail park sites are nothing more than advertising opportunities for the likes of Sky, Apple, Microsoft, MTV etc

    Truly cringeworthy, get yerself up to the Buddhist Centre near Aladdins off High Street for some lunchtime mediataion or yoga sessions, you won't look back, you can thank me next time.