Not a good start! | J. AGUIRRE

Earlier this week I found myself nervously heading to a local gymnasium to avail myself of a special offer for the over 50’s and to take advantage of their facilities Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm. Clearly, this time of day was chosen so as not to make their regular clientele feel physically sick at the sight of old people not wearing very much clothing.

I did promise myself that when away from Mallorca on this trip I would continue with my fitness regime and what better place to start than at a local gym. Anyway, the place I had in mind is only a short drive away and with the cut-out coupon from the local paper in my pocket I summoned up all the confidence I could muster.

What I was hoping for at the front desk, was a lady who would understand my predicament and ease me through the signing in process without embarrassment, But no, I get a hyped-up gym bunny, wearing way-too-much makeup, chewing gum noisily, who knew nothing of the special offer in the Gloucestershire Evening Echo. Not a good start!

Alas, as a certain woman of my acquaintance refused to sanction the purchase of any proper gym kit, as it apparently - “costs a fortune and you’ll only last a week,” I stood before the aforementioned ruminant in a pair of old plimsolls, baggy shorts and cricket jumper; all this was eyed with barely suppressed amusement.

At this juncture, I wonder if you are a little like me and always wish that, young women in particular, should find it hard to believe how old you are and say things like - “XX? I thought you were only about 50 - can I sleep with you?” But they never do - do they? Once I’d signed some paperwork I was allocated a nice young chap named Matt to assess me; probably just to make sure that I didn’t die on his shift.

So as to ease me gently into all this physical malarkey Matt pointed at a running machine and then left me there for about twenty minutes to fend for myself and so when I started to suffer from the stitch after about five minutes I just slumped down on a bench and watched some ‘gangsta-rappers’ on the television above the treadmill groping lithe young women whilst singing a merry tune.

For those of you who have never spent hundreds of euros on a mistaken gym membership I have to tell you that for the most part the people you meet are either very friendly, or ignore you completely. The friendly one’s share-your-pain, because they too have worn patterned brown socks over plimsolls in the past. Although my first session was on an afternoon when I thought only coffin dodgers and the serially lumpy and uncoordinated would be present, I spotted a huddle of proper gym people.

Have you ever noticed that seriously fit people have lots of large stand-out veins; is this healthy I wonder, or just a side-effect of pumping iron until you burst? As a friendly sort of chap I tried to strike up a conversation with a couple of the guys but they just gave me really ‘hard’ looks and then walked away thrusting their arses out, so as to look permanently constipated. I also noticed that in some ways proper gym women are altogether more intimidating than the men.

Whip slim and firm of buttock, they all have washboard stomachs, slender legs and an attitude problem. Afterwards, while I sat by myself in the cafe I spied those with necks bigger than their heads swigging huge plastic bottles of gunky green stuff and nibbling on energy bars. Never mind I thought - this double-sized Twix packet of crisps and a fat coke should set me up nicely for the day ahead. However, after a great deal of thought, maybe I’ll stick to tennis with my mates with a couple of beers afterwards.