David Flatman: Chamber of horrors is all I find after nipping to spa - News & Comment - Rugby Union - The Independent

David Flatman: Chamber of horrors is all I find after nipping to spa

View from the front row with Bath & England prop

We have a physiotherapist here at Bath who we seriously think might be a serial killer. During his time at the club I have, until now, been fit enough to avoid his attention. However, from the very moment I hurt my arm last week I have felt his Rottweiler-orange eyes drilling holes into the back of my head. Almost foaming at the mouth, he has been desperate to get his hands on me.

I mentioned last week that our so-called medical team seem to revel in the misery of others, and this week has hammered home the point further still; having had a quiet word in the ear of the big boss, I assumed I would be put on the treatment and rehabilitation list of one of the other, less-threatening practitioners. So it was with great alarm, but little surprise, that I received a text from Hannibal Lecter himself stating: "I think it's time we spent some time together, don't you? Get all your training out the way then meet me in the ice chamber at the spa."

Ice chamber? What was he planning to do to me? Of course, I am stronger than this man and would normally back myself to beat him off and make my escape, but in this weakened state I had real doubts. Upon arrival I remembered a tip given to me by an SAS soldier known as The Beast (he was 6ft 2in with a nose almost as flat as Mike Tindall's and with muscles in his face so I did not feel the need to ask why). He told me: "Know your exits."

So, I arrived at the spa and followed the signs to the chamber of doom. The likes of Olly Barkley and Nick Abendanon, of course, could locate it at a jog with their eyes shut, but I am too proud a prop forward to visit such places. I pulled open the door and was hit by a wall of fog. This was not your pathetic, anaemic Hampstead Heath early-morning mist, this was more your Scottish Highlands blanket of moisture; a scythe would have been helpful to cut through the stuff. The perfect lair for a predator such as this, I thought, so keep your wits about you.

I fumbled around like a drunken pensioner trying to find a perch but saw, and indeed heard, nothing. When safely sedentary I tried to ascertain if I was in the presence of any other life forms: "Hello?" "Just here, Flats," came the reply about a millisecond later, from directly behind me. All posture was lost when not only did I jump like a startled deer but managed to let out the yelp of a smacked puppy. All very amusing, I am sure.

Having been flogged to within an inch of not only my life but that of my poor T-shirt that morning in the gym, a nice gentle bob in the outdoor hot pool would have done nicely. Instead, what I got was a series of exercises designed to make me look as feeble as possible in front of the typically numerous and attractive women one would expect to find at such a venue; exercises involving the small muscles, the ones you cannot see. I may have looked big and tough on the way into the pool but five minutes in, when I was struggling to bend my big arm through the resistance provided by his tiny one, all the while being held afloat by the foam sausages used primarily by children, my machismo had dissolved in the water.

It was in this instance that I remembered why I hate being injured so much. While the chaps who endured a hard afternoon at Leicester last Saturday were recovering in Jacuzzis, I was power-lifting like a Russian teenager before embarking on a bike session so long and arduous that people were stopping at the gym window with looks of horror on their faces. "This could be the day we see a man die," they thought.

So, to be contractually obliged to endure such physical humiliation in such a public arena as a spa after such a torrid morning made me more determined than ever to regain fitness and see my name removed from all rehabilitation lists. One positive, I suppose, to have come from this ordeal is that the aforementioned physio and I seem to have formed a bond of sorts. Being held like a baby by a man in his disturbingly small swimming trunks will do that, I guess. As long as I stay his friend and get fit again before entering the category of prey, I should be all right.

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