It’s gym life, but not as we know it


I’m no gym bunny – I lack both the drive and the floppy ears – but it was clear, even to me, that my Big, Mad Swim Around Britain would require a bit more training than my current motivation fuels.

When Glasgow Club gifted me an unlimited membership to their 22 gyms and 12 pools across the city then, I knew I’d have to take full advantage. While I’m quite used to gracing their facilities with my bewildered, and probably utterly pointless, attempts at exercise, I’ve always been far too bashful about my lack of skill to ask what I should be doing – and how I should be doing it. But with such a gruelling challenge ahead of me, and bobbing ever closer, the time for pandering to embarrassment had gone. In 10 months’ time, I’ll be jumping into the sea in more rubber than your favourite duckie, and I’m pretty sure shame doesn’t float.


Kicking off

For any Glasgow Club first-timer, a Get Started appointment is the entry level to gym education. Last Wednesday morning then, this novice headed to Glasgow Club Springburn to meet instructor, Stephen, and break her habit of treadmill training.

You see, it’s not that I’m lazy – I could beat Susan around any table – I’m just easily confused, and I’ve typically managed my uncertainty by just shunning any equipment that looks like it’d work more brain cells than muscles. Treadmills aside, I’m pretty much just left with using a water cooler as a punch bag. I’ll admit that I was surprised then by how quickly Stephen introduced me to several machines that I would definitely have shied away from, and how easily this fool found using the foolproof Technogym equipment. It seems that all you need to become fluent in the gym is to tag along with someone who speaks the language.

After the all-important warm-up and a quick try of a few more unfamiliar contraptions, it was time to cross that invisible line on the gym floor from cardio to resistance – and, trust me, I’ve resisted. Ironically, this is the section of any gym that has always raised my heart rate most, but only because I’m so anxious being near it. It’s not that the equipment resembles torture apparatus or that the clientele are fitter than the guy that laid the carpets, it’s that, when it comes to building strength, I’m as ignorant as a blissful toddler. Soon though, I was doing reps like someone who knows a bicep from a member of the bovine family, even venturing briefly into the ultimate no-go zone: the free weights section.

With just one visit under my gradually-tightening belt, I left Glasgow Club feeling like I could actually hold my own in the gym for the first time: or, if not hold it, then at least get it to shoulder-height before letting it fall to the floor.

And surely that’s enough for now.


Pushing on

If you’re anything like me, you’ll already have forgotten pretty much everything from that last paragraph, meaning that one session with an instructor just isn’t going to stick. By the time I skipped back along to Springburn for my Get Going appointment, barely five days later, I was mixing up my chest press with my cross-trainer – and I’m pretty sure I’d get thrown out of any gym for the type of position that would leave me in.

Luckily then, Stephen has the patience of a card game, and soon had me back on track, or at least on treadmill. While encouraging every passing exerciser by name – and vacuuming the floor at one point – Stephen guided me once more around the machines, reminding me of weights and rep counts, giving tips about timing rests, and even setting me up with a mywellness key to track my workouts. And although it sounds like he was working harder than this trainee, I promise there was no room for my usual slacking – particularly once the Battle Ropes were introduced.


Moving forward

I won’t pretend that overnight I’ve learned all the ins and outs of gym equipment, but I’m definitely a lot more comfortable with the ups and downs. Thanks to Stephen, I now have an individual training programme that I can honestly say I understand, tailored to my current condition but with plenty of scope for improvement.

Not only have I committed to at least two gym sessions a week – alongside swim practice and outdoor training – I’ll be checking in with Stephen regularly for Keep Going appointments to revise my regime, and he’s kindly offered to add an extra exercise to my repertoire on every visit. Well, I say ‘kindly’…


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