Getting Healthy by Aiding Climate Change; ANALYSIS

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS UPTON

Gymnasia are commandeered for all kinds of activity: examinations, school assembly, public meetings, exhibitions. As a result, I've popped into dozens of gyms over the years, just as long as it wasn't going to involve any physical exercise. The early trauma of wall-bars, forward rolls, climbing ropes, cold showers and vaulting horses has left a deep and abiding impression. The physical scars may have healed, but not the mental ones.

However, after three decades of indolence, and to combat growing years and a growing waistline, I'm back, no longer a seven-stone weakling, but a 13-stone weakling instead.

I have to say that the staff at Cocks Moors Leisure Centre have been perfectly encouraging. I chose this one because it's run by local government, costs considerably less than the private alternative, and Brandwood End cemetery is not far away.

One criticism I would make of what they euphemistically call "the fitness suite" is the pulsing, high energy music which drowns everything. Admittedly it masks the sound of people grunting, but its drum 'n' bass is something I wouldn't mind avoiding. It's like being at a Broad Street nightclub without the drugs. Would that Cocks Moors held a regular "Leonard Cohen night", when you could exercise to the slow and gentle rhythms of Suzanne and Bird on a Wire.

Pretty obviously, I'm the oldest person in residence. There are overweight 20-somethings, young lads who must surely have better things to do on their Play Stations, and fitness fanatics without an ounce of fat on their bodies. There are also, I'm relieved to say, some who are even less fit than me.

The instruments of torture come in all shapes and sizes too. There are the upright bikes, the lie-on-your-back-and-pedal bikes, the treadmills (Victorian prisoners got these for free; we pay for the privilege), rowing machines, multi-trainers and weight-lifting devices I keep well away from. …