Plenty of people have wonderful tales about their past sporting achievements, be it the cross-country race they won when they were sixteen or the swimming event where they destroyed everyone else at the age of seventeen. Plenty of those people are still dwelling on those achievements because they left school, discovered that wonderful stuff called beer, starting earning vast sums of money and rapidly became unfit. I'm one of those people.
I've never been fat, I'm not sure if that's due to genetics, a high metabolism or just because I'm fidgety and struggle to stay still for too long. That said, back at the beginning of this year I'd become conscious of the large amount of podge building up around my waist and I was concerned with the fact that a 20min walk home from work would have me slightly out of breath. This, coupled with the fact that I was going to be seeing a girl I liked in a May (who inadvertently guilt trips me all the time by telling me about all the running and yoga she does), meant that I decided to get my act together and start running regularly. Running was fun and it felt good until I eventually plateaued and I needed something more - luckily my good friend Sud moved into our house and he persuaded me to go to the gym a couple of times.
Sud: I'm dying, my hangover is killing, I definitely shouldn't have had that kebab and now I have to go to the gym.
Curly: I feel your pain.
Sud: No you don't asshole. If you felt my pain, you'd be going to the gym too.
Curly: Alright then, I will. (Shit)
The gym was almost identical to the last one I'd been inside, way back in 2004. It was stuffy, smelt like exercise and I was greeted with the sight of about 15 sweaty people either watching themselves lift weights in the mirror or running on a treadmill while they watched themselves in a different mirror. I'm still not entirely sure why they have mirrors in gyms, but it did make me feel a bit self conscious as I propped myself up on the treadmill after two minutes of lifting a non-heavy weight. Everyone was probably looking at me and thinking "What an un-fit loser". Still, I continued, spurred on by the imaginary non-verbal name-calling that I was receiving from the other people in the gym. The longer I ran on the treadmill, the more I proved to everyone else that they were wrong and their abuse wasn't having the desired effect. I was sweating to the point where I could have jumped in the pool and still wouldn't have got any wetter. After I felt I'd done enough for everyone else in the gym to like me, I started joining in and in my head I started calling them names back - one athletic guy next to me was the target of my hate for a while. I cranked up the speed and increased the incline, he did the same. Twat, I thought at him. Cock-face, he thought back. The slinging/incline match continued until I reached for my water bottle, lost my balance and almost took an embarrassing high-speed tumble - perhaps I wasn't quite ready for that kind of language. I wound down the speed and eventually made my way back to the changing rooms.
Initially I felt great, my first gym session in over four years had gone reasonably well. That was confirmed the following week as I waddled around like John Wayne and lost the ability to lift things with my right arm. Feeling good about myself, I decided that it was fine to have six pints after work with a friend, before joining some of the others in the pub later that night for jugs of beer and a few sambuccas.
I've only made the trip back to the gym once since. The pub has seen a LOT more of me.