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On the agenda: 'Fleming'; returns queues; January detox; slouchy season; joining the gym


Middle-class problems: Joining the gym

By Marianne Levy

And so, it is January, and middle-class conversations zing with comments such as, "Have you tried resistance training?" and "I have to do my 5k before breakfast or I'm such a grump!".

The rational response to such obvious one-upmanship is to punch the speaker in the face, but this is not always appropriate. Especially if, post-Christmas, that fist barely makes it to the snout of its intended target before the puncher collapses from the effort.

So, instead, we retrieve that shouty leaflet from the takeaway drawer, and consider the gym. For, should the lure of a new you for the New Year not be tempting enough, there's also a free towel!

Resisting such marketing takes willpower, which, by definition, one is lacking if nursing a surplus stone of December flub. Besides, there's always the hope, however faint, that this year will be different, that we'll get lean, that we'll go four times a week. And that we will, maybe, one day, perhaps, have an endorphin rush – an experience as magical, and, in my experience, as likely, as meeting the Loch Ness Monster.

Back we go, then, running, cycling and power-lunging to nowhere, watched by the regulars, who view the January influx through narrowed eyes.

The consolation for the expense, the hassle and those hair-blocked showers? No, not fitness – that won't happen until September at best. It's the chance to join in and say things like, "Wow, my quads are aching," and "I am so loving the Power Plate."

And the knowledge that, when it becomes necessary, one can punch oneself, hard, in the face.