Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

The Friday rant - 03.06.11

Why I should have such a problem with them I am not entirely sure, and especially since I have never darkened the door of one, but for some reason or another I can't help but despise gyms. Yes, you heard it, gyms. The concept of lots of people squeezing indoors to exercise in what I presume is one hell of a sweaty, smelly environment has always left me feeling cold, and mostly because outside we have a generally pretty fabulous world in which we can run and walk around. So why on earth head indoors to exercise ?

OK, I grant you that if all gyms were like this one here then I might not be composing this rant, but for the life of me I can never understand why a mass of humanity wants to crowd together into a small space and exercise together. Surely this herding instinct can at least be put aside when you go and decide to exercise ? I am completely behind taking exercise (and let's be honest, more people need to take more exercise), but the whole idea of doing it inside makes me feel rather ill. Be outside taking in fresh air (alright, perhaps not such fresh air in some cities), but then head indoors, put on some daft clothes and take exercise on weird looking machines that a few century ago would have been used as pretty effective devices of torture.

I just don't get it. It's as if more and more people are forgetting about the world around them. I lived in a city for years and never once had to go to the gym because I could not find open green spaces to go and walk my dog. Note that I am not personally into jogging, but whatever floats your boat. How on earth can anybody think about anything useful or meaningful when you are crammed like sardines into a horrible building and all running or doing whatever one does in a gym ? Surely a big point of going for a walk or a run is having some time to think, or have we gone that far that exercise is becoming a mere commodity to fit into our busy lives ? Living in a city I accept makes it harder to get away from people, but I will never for one second understand anybody who lives outside of a city or big town and then heads to a gym to take their exercise. Is there any surer sign that we are all going collectively mad than that ? How can it possibly make any sense at all ? I have met plenty of people who tell me how they regularly to the gym when they live within such easy access of open green spaces. I also wonder how many people who go to gyms actually have dogs at home who also need a decent walk. Or a run.

Maybe it's just me not wanting to dress up in tight lycra, head indoors and sweat myself silly on some machine. Or perhaps have some fitness expert shout at me for an hour or so while I pay them for the privilege of doing so. If that kind of thing does it for you then be my guest, but whenever I drive past a gym with those big windows I just feel so sad that people really do like to herd together to take exercise. Surely on this overpopulated island we already spend enough of our time together like herds of sheep as it is ? Yes, of course exercise is vital, but again I come back to the great outdoors - or even your local park. The world around is one hell of a special place, and taking exercise is to me a wonderful excuse to spend more time in it. Spend all day working inside for example and then head inside once again to take exercise. If there was ever a more perfect example of how mad the world is going then that surely has to be it. Stop and think about it for a second before shooting me down in flames. Exercising indoors with lots of people in a horrible sweaty and smelly environment. Think about it. Completely and utterly mad.

And people pay to do it. Think about that as well. People actually pay to take exercise. Sometimes it's not until we stand back and reflect on some of the ways in which we lead our daily lives that certain bits of it have to make one laugh with the sheer absurdity. Paying to do something as regular as taking exercise is surely daft ? Or is it me simply being out of touch with how things are these days ? (now that I live in Cornwall and not Plymouth, yes, I can hear it already !!). Note also that I am not talking about going to a gym for reasons connected with sports. My bane if you like is with regular people wanting to herd together on a mass of running machines, plug into their iPods (or even phones, help !!), look at some computer simulated outdoor scene and then pound that treadmill as willingly as some are prone to pounding it in their everyday lives. Break out. Spend more time in the fresh air. More people wanting to spend more time outdoors means that more green space has to be protected. The world is awesome, but four walls ain't..........