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Okay, so a month and a half ago (roughly) Sarah landed her membership advisor job with Edinburgh Leisure and I, being the wonderful husband that I am, accompanied her on her first proper morning on the job so that I could be her guinea pig. I’d be the first member she’d signed up without any supervision and therefore the one she’d make any hideous mistakes with – all she’d have to fear would be my usual cheeky chappy mockery, rather than irate customers storming out with steam evacuating their craniums via the lugholes. This first day was at Leith Victoria Swim Centre, the centre where she’s still stationed and a mere 10 minute cycle from the flat. However our nearest gym – Portobello Swim Centre – is but a 2 minute saunter from the front door so that morning was the only time I set foot in Leith Viccie’s.

Till today…

Now the gym here in Porty is all well and good. Fair enough I have no real basis for comparison since, as noted earlier on this blog, I used to have a chronic fear/hatred/contempt for gyms in general and had never really set foot in one. Since my induction lessons the facilities have seemed more than adequate, there being plenty cardio machines (treadmills, crosstrainers and the like) as well as more weight machines than I currently use in my programme. There’s enough of everything that I never have to wait to get on a particular machine and if the buttons are a little less than responsive or the wee TV sets behind them are stuck on a channel (or totally knackered) then that’s a minor detail. It’s not a problem. Why? Because gyms are purely functional, they exist solely to get you fit and the machines could be spikey, gear-ridden, steampunk monstrosities (in fact that’d be pretty damn cool) for all I care. Or so I thought.

Today I decided to go along to Leith so I could say hi to Sarah, hopefully brightening her day a little, and check out the bits and pieces over that side of town. Oh. My. Sweet. Fucking. Christ. The shiny! It burns! It’s like gym porno in that place, everything is super-new and super-hi-tech. The cardio machines have TVs and radios built into them, not to mention the fact that as you’re running/cycling/climbing it’ll plot your progress round a wee imaginary hill or racetrack. You can even select standard speed buttons on the the treadmill (set your own speeds for Walk, Jog and Run) so you can change pace instantly. I didn’t use any weights machines or equipment cause I do resistance training on odd days and this was a day off, but there was so much of it, it looked like the Terminator’s pleasure palace. Even the walls, windows and carpets looked brand spanking new, as if I was there on the opening day and was depositing the first drips of sweat on the hallowed surfaces.

Actually I probably had my hardest cardio workout to date just because I was so entranced by the graphics, the buttons and the shiny shininess of it all. But it’s wrong! A gym should be a place for honest hard graft, not for pretending you’re a sweaty airline pilot. Leith Victoria is a bimbo, an airhead, a whore! The whore of Gymylon! She’s Jenny Mcarthy to Portobello’s Julianne Moore. A bourgeois den of iniquity compared to Porty’s proletariat paradise. It’s all flash with no substance (well, technically more substance as well as the flash) and as such will probably corrupt the youth, erode our most cherished values and, I dunno, unleash some new kind of supercancer with huge muscles for good measure.

The thing is, as much as I know it’s wrong and no good can possibly come of it ever, ever in a million gazillion years…

I wanna go back…

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Just back from the gym, slightly knackered but feeling generally good. How on earth did this happen? As anyone who knows me will testify I have never been much of an active person. I mean I used to swim and ski a lot when I was younger but since leaving school my main exercise consisted of dancing while on too many amphetamines and making pathetic attempts to run for buses.

This all changed when Sarah mentioned the Pedal For Scotland event which I foolishly (in a misguided gesture of love, cameraderie, etc) decided to sign up for. It all started with training for the event, mostly cycling east along the coast, gradually increasing my distance and noticing that I was no longer out of breath after reaching the end of the promenade. All of a sudden strange growths began appearing on my legs, elongated tumours that I hadn’t seen for about 10 years – Sarah says they’re called ‘mussels’ or something like that, something seafood-related anyway.

Then Sarah landed her job with Edinburgh Leisure, meaning that I was now eligible for a membership at a host of gyms at a vastly reduced rate. Now I have never ever ever been a fan of gyms despite, I admit, never having set foot in one until about two months ago. However, this new-found discovery that I wasn’t fated to be an out-of-shape couch potato for life made me curious so I signed up and whaddayaknow? I actually liked it. I’ve got a cardio and weights programme all worked out for me and I’m about to start pushing stuff up to the next level. I’ve lost some flab from all kinds of places and these tumour things are sprouting up all over the place. I feel generally much better than I did before, much more active, confident and generally spritely.

One of the weirdest things is that I actually enjoy the exertion, one of the main things that kept me away from serious exercise before. I only ever used to break into a sweat for two reasons, namely if I was in:
1 – Trouble
2 – A Catholic School playground (sorry, poor taste)
Now, however, I’m gladly exhausting myself pretty much every chance I get. In fact I feel all bored and restless when I can’t get to the gym, a most bizarre situation. Anyway, long may it continue!

On an unrelated note I’ve also been thinking about getting a new tattoo, a huge one on my back to rival Sarahs masterwork which I’ve been jealous of since I met her. It’s taken me ages to think of what I’d like to get and didn’t want to rush it in any way, preferring to wait till exactly the right thing came along. Well I was browsing ScienceBlogs the other day (I’m a geek, deal with it) when this beauty hit me right between the eyes.

How cool is that?! Now I could never just steal someone else’s tatto so I’m going to spend some time thinking about it, gathering other ideas, talking to the local tattoo shop and generally fannying about till it’s exactly what I want. I picture it being the same kind of style (the bold black lines) but adding some more colour and texture into it for variety. The head of the beast should be around the nape of my neck with the tentacles to the side exploring around my shoulderblades. As well as that I’d like the tentacles to extend further down, especially in the centre (i.e. down and around my spine) and also to try and get some H.P. Lovecraft influence in there – that’s right, Cthulhu motherfuckers! The local tattoo guy’s eyes were lighting up as I described my current thoughts on what I wanted so hopefully he’ll help come up with an absolute stormer. As soon as I have any more ideas or preliminary arrtwork I’ll post it here for your viewing pleasure. God knows how I’ll finance it though, probably have to get into this ‘crime’ business I keep hearing so much about. (Crime doesn’t pay? If not then why bother making it illegal? Stands to reason it’s worth a shot!)

Anyway, I’ll leave you with two recommendations before you go off and enjoy the weekend while I work this evening from 5 till closing time. First is that you go out and buy/stay in and download some tunes by The Gotan Project. Can’t remember how I stumbled across this but it’s well worth a shot if you fancy something different, essentially tango music but incorporating lots of samples and dance beats. Some of it is up-tempo, funky and makes you want to grab a rose ‘tween your teeth and tango the night away, other parts are more chilled and atmospheric and generally make you want to drink expensive red wine and smoke constantly in a sexy Spanish stylee.

The second recommendation is that you watch this quick clip. I don’t care if you don’t like Star Trek – neither do I – because this made me laugh so hard at one point that the laptop almost de-lapped itself. Enjoy!