I've taken the plunge. I'm going back to the gym tonight after an absence of, ooh, about 7 months. The last time I went was on possibly the hottest day of last summer, the air con had broken and I was poured back into my car by my lovely fellow gym bunnies. I lost about a stone of fluid just by walking for twenty minutes on the treadmill and went through four litres of Volvic before I felt "normal" again. And then I couldn't go back because I had embarrassed myself by collapsing over the rowing machine and making gurgling noises.
Still, they've had a 25% staff change so I think it's fairly safe to go back. Charlie and Louise are taking the plunge and rejoining me, and I've managed to convince friend Mary to come along too. Safety in numbers and all that.
I've got a love-hate relationship with the gym. I first went in February of last year, having spent the last 14 or so years avoiding them like the plague. In my twenties there were always more exciting ways to lose weight and stay fit. My first visit came about as a bit of a dare. Charlie said she'd go if I did. I said I'd go if she did. As a result of this, we both ended up sitting in lycra and trainers on a bench watching a young whippersnapper named Vince limber up on an exercise mat. The warm-up was enough for me, I was ready for the sofa and telly but no, Vince lead us over to a very scary looking machine called the cross-trainer and began to push buttons all over the place.
The first visit nearly killed me. I staggered out of there, past gorgeous young things effortlessly chatting whilst pounding along on the treadmill. Without a word, Charlie and I headed for the first chip shop we saw. There's something faintly obscene about standing in a chip shop, sucking the salt off the chips whilst wearing exercise gear.
It got better - and so did I, and only only on one visit a week. I could do 20 minutes on the rowing machine and hold a conversation at the same time. Charlie became attached to the cross trainer and had to be physically removed from it at the end of each session. We became slavish converts to warm ups and warm downs, becoming especially good at The Plank. This entails lying flat on your stomach, raising yourself up on your elbows and your toes and holding. It tightens all the muscles in the body and my best time was 70 seconds. Doesn't sound a lot, granted, but you try clenching your entire body for more than a minute with the certain knowledge that there are at least three Size Zeros looking at the size of your bottom as it quivers with exertion.
And then came the fateful day in May. I had been feeling decidedly ropey all day - Mac had been playing up and I was very tired. I'd left him with David and the sulks and I headed gymwards. Charlie was on holiday (not stuffing herself poolside, she assured me) and Louise was bouncing along quite happily which merely added to my bad mood. Anyway, I coped with the warm up and I had been doing some squats and felt a bit lightheaded so sat down for a while with my bottle of water. Vince, young whippersnapper that he is, kept bounding over to me, urging me to get going on the bench press. To shut him up (he did go on an awful lot) I sat down and hooked my legs and arms around various levers. And then.....boof!
I remember "going"......I felt very, very, very lightheaded, my ears were pinging and my whole body was shaking.........I felt myself "go". The next thing I remember is Louise trying to force my bottle of water into my mouth and being wafted up the cleavage by a hunky gym boy wearing nothing but shorts. Apparently I'd been out for about a minute. Lou said hunky gym boy went white under his tan and Vince was poised to dial 999. All the Size Zeros, I found out later, didn't even break their stride. They're obviously used to early thirtysomethings keeling over. Vince, regaining the upper hand and putting his mobile away, got me on the treadmill for ten minutes at 10mph to "work my way through it".
It's funny now but at the time it was very frightening. Louise was envisaging what to say in my eulogy. When I got home David insisted on putting me to bed and taking both my temperature and my blood pressure. My temperature was fine but my blood pressure was 90/61 - an hour after the incident...gawd knows what it was at the time. When anyone in Holby has BP that low, people start rushing around and panicking. I spent the evening in bed with a very concerned (sweet!) husband checking on me every ten minutes and bringing me nourishing things to eat.
The following week I returned, Louise watching me like a hawk, ditto Vince. The hunky gym boy was nowhere to be seen. I heard later, earwigging a conversation between a couple of the Size Zeros, that he'd been frightened off by an "incident". Wonder what it was!