I have for some time clung to the spurious idea that the French look impossibly slim because they go for casual daily walks and eat baguettes moderately. Tish tosh. That’s apparently all Dukan’s work. This body fable being torn from my eyes was the dawn of a new era and I realised that peachy youth isn’t enough to keep the body, well, peachy. The Pierres of London were at the gym, not indulging in carbohydrate heaven.
Men seem to have realised this as one of the eternal truths. The office in which I worked in the City was riddled with men popping to the gym during their lunch breaks, as if mastering a 9+ hour day wasn’t enough of an endurance test.
I kept my eyes peeled for further evidence of this sneaky, pesky exercise business and found it everywhere, particularly amongst male folk. CH spends evenings at BMF voluntarily being hollered at by an ex-military sort. HM gets up at 5am to find the time to fit it in before work. My brother (anomalous in my family) seems to think of exercise as an exciting treat – something you do as often as possible, not the other way around. Even the women are now at it – ED attends Bikram, ND jogs almost everywhere.
So I decided to join in before it was too late. I let my brother take me to the gym. He would know how to give me the lithe arms I wanted, not Madonna’s terrifying bulk. He would motivate me when I didn’t fancy it and eventually we would jog together in lycra whilst chatting in Hyde Park. I had such grand illusions. Unfortunately it was not the oasis of calm vitality I had hoped for. Mirrors, and eyes, everywhere. My own eyes were mortified to see men who had clearly been overindulging in the spinach and women grunting and heaving under weights. My brother introduced me to a man, let’s call him Mario, who sweetly shook my hand (his was an abnormally large, sweaty paw) and asked ‘what I was in for.’ Before I could answer he had isolated at least four parts of my body he clearly thought could do with an overhaul, and how I might best go about the bodyworks.
That’s the problem with the gym – it is not a covert operation of fitness, like walking down the Seine. It is an open declaration of aspiration, and for that reason people like Mario think it okay to speak of your body as if it were a joint of beef. I will have to go back, of course. The membership fee acts as a monthly reminder of my pursuit, and of course brother dearest gives me a daily call to join him. I’ll give it a month. If I don’t have the derriere of Minogue by then I will chuck it all in and go back to the baguettes.