Now winter is looming its chilly branches over our faded tans, the time finally arrived to be forced back indoors to work out. Urgh. I finally succumbed last week when I re-joined my old south London gym. After 7 months of flying solo as a freelancer – pounding the streets of south-east London with a joyous 2-step in the process – I almost shed a tear when I parted with my bank details at Lewisham powerhouse, Fitness First, not quite the shiny, polished luxurious Virgin Active that I had previously become so accustomed back in those heady (and for me, highly unsuitable) days of full-time employment.
I wasn’t happy with this new change in my life. At all. Indoor training is a sore reminder that yes, summer is over, and now, due to finding myself back in part-time employment, I no longer have the luxury of zipping out for a quick 5 miler before lunch. But to be frank, I’m just not hardcore enough to embrace the chills, shrills and knee-aches from running outside in winter.
So there I was, weeping at the reception of Fitness First in Lewisham, feeling like I’d taken a step backwards, to a gym that was not, I believed, reflective of my personal advances, both physically and professionally. I felt I was dragging myself backwards when moving forward to a more shiny place than ever before should’ve been my goal post.
Zwrrrrrrriiiip! (that’s a record rewinding by the way). What am I talking about? What a load of codswallop. Get a grip sister (I told myself) and stop sniveling over the fact that there are no free towels; a swimming pool; or an indoor running track (no joke) and appreciate that you have access to a gym and a body that can work out in it.
But, here’s the thing – once I was back at my old gym, I actually felt like I’d come home. Fitness First may not be as show-offy or polished as its more aspirational counterparts, but the rawness it exudes in KFC bucket loads has now become far more desirable resulting in FF fast becoming my new second home. Unlike VA at the Barbican, no City Wankers are to be found pumping iron here – instead there boasts a throng of gritty south London characters, from the stocky-like-a-block Latino personal trainer dipped in tattoo ink (and probably steroids), through to the slightly frightening could-be-a-tranny whom is there every day with her gym kit in a flowery wheely bag. The hairs on my neck stand to attention every time her freaky baritone voice echoes through the changing rooms.
I’m home, I tell you. Home.