I blame Mrs Bamber. She suggested I go to the gym as she thought it would be good exercise for me. I don’t know what she thinks golf is, particularly the way I play it; criss-crossing the fairway I walk miles and miles and then there’s the foraging in the bushes. Anyway, she made me an appointment down at the John Charles Centre for Sport (snappy little title, isn’t it?) and a nice young man called Luke showed me the equipment. He didn’t fall about laughing at my natty appearance and didn’t take any obvious pleasure it getting me to suffer a bit on the treadmill.
To be frank I was a bit concerned that I’d be out of place in my non-lycra outfit and grey hair – the hair isn’t an outfit, by the way, what’s left of it is all mine…
And while I looked particularly fetching in my red tee shirt, black shorts and £8 trainers I didn’t stand out too much as someone who had just been let out for the day…
I have to say I quite enjoyed it – watching the little dot got round the track, seeing how many kilometres I had cycled and how many calories I had expended. At this rate in a couple of days I’d have worn off the kit-kat (two finger) I had after lunch. I also got given a free water bottle and a towel, which with a bit of ingenuity could be attached to my golf trolley so I could clean my ball before putting it.
Anyway, a week or so later I trotted down to John Charles again having cunningly timed my arrival for one of the free hours. I’d only forgotten two items which is pretty good by my standards: £1 for the locker for my clothes and some soap (okay, shower gel).
This free business is excellent and it’s all part of a campaign to get us couch potatoes fitter so we stop either clogging up doctors’ surgeries, or dying, or come to that dying in doctors’ surgeries. Any or all of which I’m against. I got a very nice Leeds Let Get Active Card, got given the code for the gym and descended into the bowels of John Charles’ to get changed.
Once kitted up and having mastered the entry code into the gym, which was my major anxiety before I set off, I homed in on an exercise bike for 15 minutes random cycling. I had obviously been feeling particularly puritanical on my previous visit as I had ensured I was some way from the nearest TV screen but I have to confess that my eyes strayed to the nearest screen which was a bit problematic as I didn’t have my glasses with me. This time I wore my glasses and positioned myself to settle down to watch ‘Perfection’. If you’ve missed this archetypal daytime telly quiz programme then, fear not, you haven’t missed anything. It is however, very good for cycling to. On this occasion I wasn’t the oldest person at the gym either, but thought the woman of mature years whom I knew would perhaps not want me to greet her like a long lost friend when she was not looking at her most elegant with sweat oozing from every pore.
After various exercise machines designed to strengthen my arms, legs, hips, stomach muscles, ear lobes etc. I took up position on a treadmill surprisingly adjacent to a TV screen, set the machine for a gentle stroll for 15 minutes at 5kph including random inclines (I’m not a total softee) and settled down to watch ‘Escape to the Country.’ So you can watch mindless telly while you make yourself a bit fitter… My only worry is whether the loss of calories is exceeded by the loss of brain cells.
This ‘Let’s Get Active’ programme is a bit of whizz. Every day at John Charles there’s an hour’s free swimming and an hour’s free gym. There are daily free activities at Middleton Leisure Centre, health walks at the Hunslet Club on Thursday lunchtimes and family sports activities at Middleton Park on a Saturday lunchtime.
It’s almost as good as playing golf… and a lot less time consuming! See you in Rio in 2016?