Working Out 2: Bunyan Strikes Back

Working Out 2: Bunyan Strikes Back

First published in Your Say Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author by

One fine morning in February, walking into college, I was aware of a nagging in my subconscious, disquiet in my soul. Despite being in a good mood, as the morning jam had been lovely, my hair looked great and I was on time, I couldn’t help feeling that something was going to go wrong today. It was not until I got to college, and slumped into my chair in the back of the economics room, next to my friend, I found out why: he was thinking of joining the forces.

That, in itself, is not a problem. The military do some brilliant, underrated humanitarian work. The problem was that he wanted to get in shape, in case he ever applied, and for this he obviously needed a gym buddy. Just as Luke Skywalker needed his Yoda, Rocky needed Mickey Goldmill (apparently), or those atrociously ugly, spoilt brats needed Mary Poppins, it is the unspoken law that everyone in training, be it in the gym or in learning to sing a song about every single situation, needs a training buddy. I think in my case, he just wanted someone to make him look good by contrast, but still the question stood; would I be his Julie Andrews?

Of course I said no.

Some people say I’m a pushover, which I strongly disagree with, but then again everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I guess it is kind of true.

So, the next day during a shared free, we were found in the upstairs multi-gym, the second time in as many years for me. We took the key from the warden, or gym-führer or whatever she’s called (I prayed she didn’t remember me, “the Trousered Bandit”, from last time), and went in. It was all horrifically the same: same people, same torture instruments. However, I did notice, with a savage satisfaction, that the treadmill I had wrestled was out of use and needed maintenance. Fantastic. It was the kind of moral victory that can only be won against a stupid machine.

I steered clear of the runners this time and we both headed to the rowing machines. After ten minutes of pumping fake water, my companion got up to try the weights. I stood and had a look around, decided there was no equipment I deemed safe, so climbed back on the rower. Just then, a girl walked in to the gym.

Heh. Finally, I thought, I’m not going to be the most pathetic here. I even considered tripping her up, laughing and then stealing her lunch money. She sat on the rower next to me, as if she had read my thoughts, and immediately I realised my mistake, as she began rowing at a ferocious rate, back and forth, back and forth. In response, I found myself rowing faster and faster, trying to match her. After several minutes I realised that our respective paces were similar, so I glanced across in victory…and my jaw dropped in clichéd horror as I realised how I could keep up. She was now only rowing with one hand, whilst texting with her left!

Sufficed to say, all masculine feelings that I had conquered the once peculiar land of weights and flexing had been dashed. I rowed until she had left, then cycled for the rest of the session, and made a quick exit. For some reason, my friend has found a new gym buddy…

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