The first part of this takes the form of confession. I was being followed around the machines and free-weights by a younger version of myself, resplendent in Day-Glo muscle vest, tracksuit bottoms (to hide slightly less well developed legs!) and trainers that cost a month’s membership fee. What was tweaking my fragile ego was that he was adding weight to each of my previous efforts, although visibly struggling with some… I began to get annoyed after the first four stations and so started surreptitiously ‘stacking’ the weights on the machines before moving to the next one. For the uninitiated, this involves moving the pin that decides how many plates you will be lifting to the bottom of the stack. It was as I watched him struggling to push an overhead press that the penny dropped – what the f*ck was I doing? More to the point, why was I doing it here? I normally trained with headphones on and head down – gym blinkers, but now I took the earphones off and consciously absorbed the scene around me. The ladies had clearly spent time in front of the mirror before stepping out of the changing rooms, and the men weren’t much better. At least five areas looked like a scene from Grease, with posturing, muscled young men pressed up against lycra-clad, hair-twiddling women. I was struck with the revelation that this place was the new wine bar.
For me the end had certainly come. The only question that needed answering was – now what?