Friday, 25 January 2013

Gym Bollocks

It was my birthday last Saturday and I was lucky enough to be treated with a night away at a posh hotel. It was just me and my wife for 24 hours. With no kids and a criminally large supply of chocolate and booze, we were set for a pleasant stay.

To try and offset the imminent overindulgence, I headed down to the gym. I shouldn’t say gym, because the hotel actually described it as a ‘Technogym’. Intrigued to find out what this meant, I headed in there. It turned out that a Technogym isn’t somewhere that plays Pump Up the Jam whilst you exercise, it just means that all the equipment is really complicated. I wanted to do my usual 10k on the rowing machine, but I had to tell it my life story first. Many questions were asked about my background and suitability to sit on the machine. I answered them all stoically, did my row and got out of there.

This is why I don’t really do gyms. Because they are generally bollocks. The modern day gym is crammed with so many distractions, I’m amazed that people have time to actually do any exercise. While I was on the rower, I watched a bloke wander in. In the twenty minutes he was there, he did the following:

Had a drink of water.
Did a couple of lunges with major breath exhalation.
Watched the news.
Nodded his head to a tune on MTV.
Ate a boiled sweet.
Watched me on the rowing machine, seemingly assessing my technique.
Tried to work out the bench press machine, then gave up.
Looked out of the window.
Adjusted his shorts to get his balls just how he liked them.

He finished off by doing that stretch where you put your arm over your head and end up looking like the dead bloke from Deliverance.

That was it. A sum total of bugger all. He’d have burnt more calories standing outside and smoking a rolly.

When I was leaving, I clocked a machine that offered me a ‘Body Composition Analysis’. I stood on it for a couple of minutes and it printed out a page of results that I’ll never have the mental capacity to understand. Apparently my Segmental Edema is 0.331 on the ECF/TBF and 0.377 on the ECW/TBW. No? Me neither. I also have a value of 31.2 in my Intracellular Water. I took great comfort from the provision of this utter load of bollocks.

I subscribe to an old fashioned school of thought that says that exercise and staying fit is really quite straightforward. When I was in the army, the gym was a place of work. You tried to stay out of there, because horrible amounts of exercise took place in them, under the supervision of Physical Training Instructors, who could only be distracted by mirrors.

The fun never stopped and the sessions were cheerfully referred to as beastings. If you were spotted trying to get a breather, you were sent to hang on the wall bars with the other skivers.

For most of us, it was much more preferable to go out for a run.

To do this, you put on a pair of trainers and root around to find your smelliest t-shirt and least smelliest socks. Then you go outside and run until you’ve had enough. At the end of the run you can conduct a low-tech Body Composition Analysis by asking yourself the following question.

Am I knackered?

If the answer to the question is yes, congratulations! You can go home, as you now have some ‘beer in the bank’. This same BCA can be applied to all forms of exercise. That’s how complex it needs to be.
The true guru of exercise was Victor Comic character Alf Tupper, or ‘Tough of the Track’.

Without needing to wear enough gadgetry to land a space shuttle, Alf would beat all the monocle-wearing cads of the Amateur Athletics Association after working as a welder for twelve hours then eating fish and chips.

I imagine that if anyone had enquired as to his ‘Visceral Fat Area’ he’d have just welded them to his bench!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Little Things

Like most people, Wednesday the 2nd of January dawned for me with the horrible realisation that it was time to head back into work. I’d had a great holiday with the kids and spent loads of time with friends and family. I’d kidded myself that this might just extend right into January and that everyone would think that I’d never had a job, allowing me to live 2013 in a manner similar to Prince Andrew.

I haven’t got a particularly stressful job. I don’t have to teach children, nurse sick people or dig holes in the roads during winter. I don’t have to spend months away from home, wondering if today might be the day that me, or one of my mates, step on something that changes our lives forever.

I work in that most magnolia of settings, the modern day office. I have access to a phone, the internet and hot beverages. I don’t have anyone timing my toilet breaks or cracking the whip over me. I have nothing to moan about.

But that wouldn’t be human would it?

Everything is relative and I moan just as much now as when I really had something to moan about. The cushiness of my current number, as compared to my life as a junior soldier, bears almost no comparison. This was a world where being messed about and having your life turned upside down at a moment’s notice was part of the job description. Any dissent or grumbling was always met with the sneeringly cutting response of,

“If you can’t take a joke, you shouldn’t have joined!”

Which was right, of course. If I think of the difference between my world then and my world now, I can’t believe I’ve found something to whine about. But I have and it’s the IT bloke who sits quite near to me.

He’s not in my team and I don’t even know his name, but he sits just close enough for me to hear his conversations, both on the phone and in person, with his other IT colleagues.

I know that the IT geezers in any office come in for a bit of ridicule. When they were at university they thought they were going to change the world. Five years later, they’re showing bell-ends how to turn computers on. It must be galling. No amount of Star Wars or Goth band t-shirts are going to put it right, so an airy disdain for their colleagues is all they have to distinguish themselves from the rest of us.

That’s not what does my head in about this guy, though. Yes, he has some of the stereotypical accoutrements you would expect to see on an IT bloke’s desk: phone with a Star Trek ringtone; slightly controversial poster; nine monitor screens; and a mouse that’s different to everyone elses. He also wears an earpiece arrangement that suggests he guards the President. He can have all that and go out at the weekends with his mates, dressed like this.

I’m not bothered. If he’d just stop speaking entirely in clichés, I wouldn’t know he was there. He uses all the expressions that I don’t like, the ones that people use to indicate that they’re a bit cool and wacky whilst proving the opposite.

Here is an abridged list from last week:

“I’m not three bad.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
“Morning, campers.”
“Not a happy bunny.”
“He’s thrown his teddy in the corner.”
“Do I not like that?”
“Exsqueeze me?”

He also leans towards the use of military metaphor whilst talking about the most unmilitary things imaginable. On a recent conference call, he remarked that he and his colleagues needed to ‘go over the top’ and ‘dominate the high ground’ with regards to a software update. He added that they should, ‘watch his tracer’ and ‘get some boots on the ground.’

I’m well aware that I’m being intolerant and that he is probably doing a similar blog today, where he vents his spleen about having to sit next to an ex-squaddie with a Mancunian accent, straight from central casting, who spends a farcical amount of time drinking coffee or telling people jokes they’ve heard before.

In a funny way, we’re helping each other get through the week and avoiding the fact that we’re locked in this room till we’re 67.