Gym membership. Pah.
The western world is divided into two camps: those who fork out a Vizier’s ransom for gym membership and visit, faithfully, year upon year, toning their muscles and making the world turn round and envy; and those who fork out a fortune for a gym membership and then forget, or forego.
Three. Three camps. There are those, like me, who could not afford a gym membership,who hate exercising next to the narcissistic, and anyhow, cannot see the point when there’s a hulking great forest out there to exercise in free of charge and without observation.
I walk the forest daily. I exercise aerobically up the hills and wheeze happily down the wooded ramparts. I stride purposefully after the dog when he chases deer. I climb over trees. Observe squirrels. It’s tough.
But, alas, I must own, wellington boot camp is not enough.
For I have a burgeoning waistline. It challenges, it grates, and I have had my fill of feeling frumpy. I wish for a wasp-waist, the old familiar hour-glass feeling from days of yore.
Willpower, for a forty something like me , is not in plentiful supply. I have been round the block. I have tried a thousand diet regimes, and they were all the answer for sweet fleeting moments. I am jaded. Cambridge, Slimming World, Weightwatchers: their jingoistic measure-persuade-cajole act seems tired and worn somehow.
Please. Take your scales somewhere else. What I need is something to stop me seeking instant comfort in these frenzied days of 21st century life. Like, oooh, let’s see: a publisher. A writing job. Someone to read this dragons’ hoard of useless information I have holed up in this cybercave of mine.
And you can’t get me that, can you, Fat Club?
No: it has become the age of drastic measures.
Enter, the little personal trainer.
He is ten years old, going on 11. He has just discovered that smart clothes and a neat hairdo can turn heads. Yet he still loves to run and run and run.
My son the 600 metre runner beat everyone in school last year and excelled himself in tryouts for his new school this year. And with stealth and smeagol-like craft, I have gone about employing him.
“We could go out running with the dog,” I suggest over breakfast one day. “You could train, I could keep fit. Maybe,” I venture nonchalantly, “we could aim towards a 5k race.”
His eyes light up, and I go in for the killer blow. “We could buy you a special pair of running shoes.”
We don’t shake on it, but the littlest personal trainer gets in from school today and we hitch the dog to a lead and head out with satellite tracking on the phone.
We run a mile today, fixing our attention on the dog’s behind. It is not onerous; the land is flat and sandy and forgiving, the forests like those of the Gruffalo. We come to a halt and walk happily home.
“I feel better when I run, ” my trainer says.
“I sleep better, too, ” he adds, ruminatively.
I grin. Beats gym membership hands down.