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Diary of an Underachiever

WHEN I WORKED at Men’s Health we often mentioned this strange and unproven fact: that for every minute you spend in the gym, you add a minute to your life. It sounds like a pretty good deal. But, I hasten to add, only if your current life is pretty sad.

See, the problem is, that minute you spend exercising is a minute you are taking from now and tacking it onto the part of life later one might cafacetell -that last decade of life where you’re peeing into a bag and mistaking your children for spiders. The fact is, it’s far better to be careful with your minutes while you’re in the blossom of youth – when you’re still able to pull drunk secretaries at the pub and sneak dope onto an airplane. The trasaddlingom “now” to “later” is wholly unnecessary and wrong – you won’t want that extra time when it’s spent shaddling a bed pan, straining after every nugget of undigested bran. No – as the world moves on you’ll be praying for a quick death, one denied to you by your former self – the guy pumping relentlessly up and down on a stair climber. See, instead you should be pumping that delightful flight attendant found staggering out of the Pig And Whistle with her skirt tucked into her underwear.

But when I say “you”, I really mean “me”. And I only bring this up, because I am at the gym, trying to make sense of why I am here at the gym. I wish I was at the pub.


From every corner, pubs call me with their siren-like belches. I know my friends are already there, happy and drunk, enjoying their minutes while I am sweating out FHM. Charles texts me ¬≠telling me about a wild girl with a speech impediment that he’s got back to his flat.


thrash, thick neck- his personified thickness relegating the rest of us as bystanders.

The thickness, mind you, .j a badge of bodybuilding. Weightlifters wear their flaws on their puffy, protruding pets. Take, Al Argi bay, a “health insurance for small business owners” who was thrown out of a gym called Planet Fitness recently in New York. He was at the “multi-press station”, about to squat a quarter of a ton. When he was told to stop grunting, he swore at the manager, and was escorted out of the gym by cops. To be fair, there was a sign that specified no grunting- as well as no bandanas and “do-rags”. I found a picture of the guy on the web, and although he wasn’t wearing a do-rag in the photo – his meticulously trimmed goatee and stocky frame suggests he’s probably worn quite a few – usually in front of a mirror, posing… naked and oiled.

These guys make me hate the gym – and they are present in all gyms. Experiment: perhaps you’d like to go to the Caf√© Bar de la Tour Saint Jacques in Paris. Imagine yourself there. Nice. Now replace the name of the bar with 24 Hour Fitness. It’s like stabbing a child in the eye with a violin bow. A gym, much like a marathon, has the power to drain any city of its charm. I love Brussels. The Brussels Marathon, though, sounds like shit.

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