My body is a temple, I tell people. However, in recent years it has become more like a cathedral. Flying buttresses are a distinct possibility in the years to come. It’s with this in mind that I regularly consider exercise.
The word ‘consider’ is doing all of the heavy lifting in that previous sentence, isn’t it?
But it’s with these considerations in mind that I regard the cross-trainer in the conservatory. Whenever I go near it, I can sense it. It’s almost as if it’s looking at me. It’s not mocking. I think it feels pity, if anything covered in dust and cobwebs can display such an emotion.
It started several years ago. I took a phone call from Katie.
“Cross trainer?” she asked.
“I’m not sure I express any emotions during exercise,” I said. “I’m normally too knackered.”
“You know, you’re not in the slightest bit funny. What would you say to a new cross trainer? And, by the way, ‘Hello new cross trainer’ is not an acceptable response. Unless you fancy sleeping on the sofa tonight.”
It turned out that she’d stumbled across a place selling professional gym equipment at discount prices. Perhaps ‘stumbled’ is the wrong word – she’d gone in there, debit card at the ready. She was smitten by their cross trainers – these exercise machines that require you to adopt the look of a Nordic skier and move your arms and legs in perfect harmony.
“It’s a great idea,” she’d said. “For the amount this costs, you’d normally have to go to the gym for months. Now we can exercise any time we want.”
“Well that’s just fine. Because I never actually want to exercise. How does that work?”
She replied with two words. I’m not entirely sure I understood the first one.
Some days later I was to be found at home – studiously not exercising - when there was an overly-confident knock at the door. I opened it to be presented with Gym Equipment Lady. Gym Equipment Lady was a perfect advertisement for her wares. There were abdominal muscles off which you could confidently bounce a cricket ball. She was wearing gym shorts above legs reminiscent of Redwood pines.
She flashed me a dazzling smile. “Cross trainer?”
“I’m not sure I express any emotion during exercise,” I started, before noticing her eyebrow starting to rise. Even this looked muscle-bound, so I decided not to be a smartarse.
“Um, yes, it needs to go round the back,” I said.
“No problem,” she said, leaping back into the cap of her pick-up and reversing it into the driveway.
“Do you need any help? “ I asked, some semblance of masculinity still in effect.
It was clear only seconds later that I’d asked the most redundant question in history. Her biceps moving like two Volkswagens attempting to parallel-park, she shifted the cross-trainer in one graceful movement from the flatbed to the ground.
“No need,” she said, “just clear a path for me.”
And with that, cross-trainer and Gym Equipment Lady moved in perfect harmony through my garden. It was a sight to behold. The cross-trainer was installed and then she disappeared in a cloud of diesel and Chanel.
And that was the problem. Having seen the Gym Equipment Lady in operation I was convinced there was something in this exercise concept. Who knew, after only a few months, I too could be a perfect specimen?
Alas, it was not to be. It doesn’t matter how good the equipment, you still need to put a degree of physical effort into the whole endeavour. Before too long, the cross-trainer was relegated to impromptu clothes-hanger. It now sits, humbled, its pistons and drive belts cruelly silenced.
For sale, one cross trainer. The perfect present for the Amazon in your life. Buyer must collect.