Magazine article Management Today

Gym Might Fix It

Magazine article Management Today

Gym Might Fix It

Article excerpt

Just look at joggers' faces and you'll see why I don't hold with exercise. They look crazed, starey, otherworldly. They've persuaded themselves they're guided missiles launched towards a better world; that there's no gain without pain; and that they don't look silly.

You have to be an American -- and a particular sort of American at that -- to embark on that kind of self-improvement routine, untroubled by doubt or irony.

I don't do exercise. Among other things, it involves the wearing of training shoes and to get round that I'd have to put on a rubber Clinton mask because I so hate trainers. But medical advice changes everything; if I was told it was the treadmill or croak the day after tomorrow, of course I'd do it.

But don't do as I do, do as I say, namely -- you should exercise modestly but constantly for the following reasons. Fat is a careerist issue and exercise does help. It's nicer to have a flat stomach because clothes hang better that way. It helps clear the mind -- which is useful if you're an aggressive, troubled kind of person -- and so aids restful sleep. It may help with self-esteem -- some people who find their performance in corporate workshops weighed down by a sense of their own hopelessness discover that a bit of bouncing around sends more blood to the brain. It may provide a hobby -- I have friends who, remarkably, have found themselves in the gym and proceeded to make their bodies their lives' work. 'You may prolong active life' [(C) dog food] ie while exercise probably won't make you live longer, it could keep you operational longer.

With the exception of the last -- no one can bet on that -- these aren't my problems. Anyway you'll note how very measured and hedged this all is. We've been through nearly 20 years of American 'change your life' propaganda about exercise from the health care, equipment and gym industries and seen how they can't possibly deliver to that level of psychic or physical reward, how people drop out of exercise programmes just like they renege on diets. The gym won't do it for Austin Powers or Dawn French lookalikes. There are more fat blobs, at every age and class level, emerging from the production lines every year.

The gym industry treads, jogs and runs on hope. Its growth precisely parallels the huge expansion of 'grazing' choice in food available everywhere and the declining need for any reasonably well-paid online car owner ever to move a muscle. …

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