Imogen Edwards-Jones discovers that being adept at a downward dog doesn't make you a gym bunny
Before we go any further I feel I should point out that, surprisingly enough, I am not a gym person. I know. It’s a shock. But I’m not a member of a gym, nor have I been for at least fifteen years. I did make the mistake of joining one once. It was around the corner. Handy, I thought. I used the steam room three times at a cost of £165 per visit. And then they wouldn’t let me leave. I had to give notice or something ridiculous like that. In fact, in the end, I think I had to invent some sort of frightful contagious illness like the plague to get them to take me off their sweaty little books.
I am not anti-sport per se. I like a swim, for example. I am also, as a child of a yoga teacher, quite fond of the old downward dog, or hot dog if you’re talking Bikram, and I can out-tree pose anyone - even after three martinis, six fags and 25 canapes. But when it comes to running, using one of those machines or lifting weights, I would rather pluck out my own nasal hair.
Obviously I didn’t tell the handsome, cut, Jean-Claude any of that when I arrived at W10 Fitness, a sort of bespoke gym in an industrial estate in West London (very Rocky Balboa). I was all trainers and teeth, giving the air a punch or two as I trotted around, enthusing.
He sat me down (phew!) and asked me 101 questions about my diet, how much I drank (“Oh, not a huge amount.”), if I smoked (“Only when drunk”), and did I take any exercise? (“Does running for last orders count?”). After a chat about how I need to eat more protein, to build more muscle, in order to burn more fat, he put me on one of those weighing machines that even if you breath in, stand on one foot, lean secretly against the wall or quickly go to the loo beforehand, tells you exactly quite how miserable things are.
And my things really are miserable. I am ‘C curve’, which basically means I have more fat than I actually have muscle. I am overweight (who knew?!) and have next to no lean muscle. Truth be told, it is a miracle I can get around Marks’ with a shopping basket and fill it with weighty products like taramasalata and crisps and make back to the car in one piece, without the need of one of those mobility scooters and a police escort.
“You have the muscle mass of a 68-year-old woman,” he nodded, looking gravely down at his clipboard and making serious notes.
“Better than a 78-year-old,” I hooted, attempting to be charming while encased in black Lycra. “Only just,” he replied.
With my lardy arse firmly put in its place, JC set about the ‘assessment’. This involved some step-ups, some pulling and some pushing of weights. Needless to say I was as swift and as agile as a walrus with emphysema.
“Hmm,” said JC, clicking his clicky pen. “I think we are going to have to go right back to the beginning with you. You can’t do a step-up without your leg wobbling.” “Oh,” I said, helping myself to some restorative water from a handy cooler.
“There is one good thing,” he piped up, as I walked very gingerly towards my bag and coat. “There is?” I paused. “Yeah,” he nodded. “Unlike most of the women around here you do actually eat food. You have plenty of calories in your diet.”
“I am quite good at eating,” I acknowledged.
“We encourage that here,” he replied.
He smiled. Maybe this could be my kind of place after all?
To be continued next week...
W10 Fitness, Unit 3, 69 St Marks Road, London W10 6JG. Tel: 020 3489 5428.