Gym Junkie

Barney Zwartz reflects on why he hates going to the gym - and why he begrudgingly does it anyway.

Last week, I got back into the gym because, as an overweight man in my 60s, I really need to. Looking at my exercise card, I realised I had previously been just twice this year, at an average cost of $200 a visit. Showing the immense discipline for which I am famed (along with my nobility, wisdom and humility), I’ve been three times in six days, bringing the average price down to below $100. Talk about value for money!

I used to love the gym. When I first started 40 years ago, I quickly put on 20 kilograms of muscle, because I’m a mesomorph so it’s easy. Over the next 25 years I also managed to acquire several injuries and stopped going, promptly putting on another 20 kilograms of pure fat. Why do I hate going to the gym so much? Well, obviously it’s tiring – much more fun to walk the dog when, after 30 steps or so, the cardio kicks in.

Second, it takes time that I rather begrudge.

Third is all the mirrors. Gyms everywhere seem to have floor to ceiling mirrors, into which the gym junkies stare lovingly as they posture and preen. I avoid mirrors – the Bible tells me my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, but it’s in considerable disrepair. What I wonder is whether I have a moral responsibility to tend it better, or whether I can just uncomplainingly accept the consequences.

But the fact is that, under the gentle (cough, cough) encouragement of my wife, I’m going to have to continue my hate-hate relationship with the gym so that I can, I hope, continue my love-love relationship with life.