Ridley: There are often things that don’t live up to your imagination, one in particular down through the years (for me) happens to be exercise. I’ve never been sporty, I was the book type, the girl who when given money for her birthday spent it on numerous books, much to the exasperation of my mother who always insisted I needed clothes rather than more books. It’s not that I don’t love the idea of doing a sport, but the theory has always been so much easier than the practice.
Running, in particular, is one I’ve tried and would love to master. Particularly on a beach somewhere hot, I bet that would probably be nice. For two seconds, then I’d like to return to my yellow parasol with a cool iced drink.
I have attempted that ‘couch to 5K’, which was good for the first few weeks, I gradually built up my running time and decreased my walking minutes. As I did it, I pictured myself as one of those stylish runners, dressed in sleek black three quarter length trousers, a tank top and swishy blonde ponytail, with The Black Eyed Peas, ‘Push It’ urging me on to success. Then I passed a shop window, where my delusions shattered into thousands of sharp shiny shards, and I saw Bridget Jones, well her uglier sister; Ms Tomato-Head herself puffing as she limped by in a baggy t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms that should have been burned centuries ago. Rather than a small perfect droplet of sweat on my graceful neck and the imagined artful swig of an energy drink, the reality is really more flaying arms and claw-like hands grasping for both my tap water in an old coca cola bottle and my iPod as it randomly shuffles onto classical music-can anyone exercise to that?
I really do have an active imagination. Even being on a bike or horse, I have very similar rampant images, where I’ve picture myself as a majestic Tour de France type or dressage rider, in all the flashy gear, where really I just look like a miserable sack of spuds someone’s abandoned on the seat by accident.
Now everyone knows that at the moment, it’s too cold (well here in Ireland) to be exercising outside-though I have seen a few mad people attempting it in the cold driving rain *shudder* It may be spring, but it seems Mother Nature hasn’t gotten the memo yet. In my mind, going to the gym is the only option. I’m a serial gym membership buyer, not goer. I never seem to learn my lesson, despite sometimes having some horrific upfront steep membership fees, I always seem to find a gym to join and then never go. The reasons I use to persuade myself that this time will be different always change. It could be a gym which is closer to where I work than the last one, or it could have no pool, or a larger pool, have lots of classes, or better machines or all male instructors. It doesn’t matter, my record has only been ten visits and then the excuses begin-I’m not a morning person I’ll go in the afternoon, I’m so tired after work I’ll go tomorrow, it’s been a few days I need to work up the nerve to go back. Weeks go by and I become convinced that they’ll laugh at me if I return. Then like a bad embarrassing smell, the guilt and the gym membership fee linger on for a bit, as I try to convince myself that I’ll definitely go on Saturday, or Sunday, or next Wednesday, so I don’t cancel it yet! But soon, I realise I need to plug this particular drain on my finances (my book fund is getting low after all). So I trek down to the gym with downcast eyes and with inaudible mumbling I cancel the membership. They give me the once over and just nod with little resistance, I imagine in the back office somewhere there are a few buff gym types passing fiver notes around as they chuckle over their bets of me not lasting longer than a week.
For now, I’ll continue to try to be as healthy as I can be, it’s in my interest after all and I’ll feel better for it, or at least this is what I’ll continue to mutter to the bright orange carrot sticks sitting in my fridge. I’ll leave the gym memberships alone for a bit and one day I will transform into a graceful lyrca-covered princess, or so the little voice in my head reassures me, though perhaps it’s as crazy as I am!