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This article was written on 14 Dec 2015, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Gyms are the joyless death of the human soul

I will, at some point, die. That is hardwired into all living things, except perhaps cockroaches and people who work for Foxtons, and is one of the fundamental truths of existence. One of my cells will misfire and I’ll get cancer, I’ll have a stroke, get pneumonia or be mown down by a speeding ratboy with a bumfluff moustache who is barely out of shorts.

You can’t, it seems, cheat genetic destiny or the fickle hand of fate. Beyond taking reasonably sensible steps like not eating saturated fat every minute of the day, smoking like a chimney from your eleventh birthday and gargling with prussic acid, there is an element of uncertainty behind continually drawing breath that not much else can mitigate.

This is why I have decided that I am not interested in what the modern gym has to offer. I have no desire to surround myself with the kind of grunting heffer that pauses only in doing free weights to admire himself. Nor do I want to ‘go for the burn’ on the treadmill or ‘work out a programme’ with a man who has sprayed himself orange and looks like walnuts shoved forcibly into a strikingly coloured sock.

Gyms, quite apart from the people who frequent them, are humourless places. There is no joy to be had in gyms, no laughter or excess. People stomp away on treadmills or cross trainers, going nowhere, eyes fixed on a TV screen or ears on an iPod, working away towards some mythic goal that involves saying ‘no’ to nice things like jam roly poly or pretending that this salad is nice when what you really want is a steak and chips.

Woven into this is an argument about quality of life. My great aunt, who lived to be 101 because she was bloody minded and said she would, was never inside a gym in her entire life. And by the end of an existence in which she had watched all of her friends die and was, finally, living in the Twilight Acres Council Rest Home For The Soon To Be Dead, her quality of life was such that she resolved to die and promptly did.

What end would have been served by her going to a gym? None that I can see. When another relative decided he’d had enough, he told the nurses in ringing, defiant tones ‘NO FOOD’ and set his mind to dying. He did. Again, no possible end will have been served by him swimming more, working out with free weights or sitting on one of those things that looks like a giant purple haemorrhoid and is about as much use.

This is not an argument for the kind of licence that sees you being pushed around Tesco in a wheelbarrow because your legs have given way under your huge girth or standing outside Wetherspoons sucking on a fag like the tumbril was waiting to cart you away. It’s an argument for walking a bit, having pudding and enjoying chocolate digestives, rather than treating them like Satan’s tagnuts.

When I die, I’d quite like it to be in my sleep at an advanced age, or to be in the arms of the devastatingly curvaceous bottle blonde who holds the keys to my heart. When it happens, my regrets will be many, but they will almost all be about not showing love when I should have done, or failing to keep my own counsel when kindness told me I should. None of them will be about spending more time in the gym with sweaty drones.

Saying ‘no, bollocks’ to what modern life sicks up on your eiderdown and not being carried along on a tide of out-of-town shopping, gyms, TK Maxx, David sodding Cameron, televised talent shows and witless programmes where people go ‘on a journey’ seems like good sense. I greet life by disliking the Conservative Party in all its idiot forms, avoiding popular culture and having another piece of Victoria sponge. I urge you to do the same.

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