Get out of my park; get out of my pool. Get off my cross trainer, my bike and my bench, and don’t even think about crashing my spinning, HIT, barre or velocity class, you pathetically weak-willed and lily-livered New Year New Leafers.
Every January, I catch myself in the same rant. I’ll be pounding along a dirt track, when I look up to see my path blocked by twin mounds of immobile spandex-clad flesh.
It’s rare to catch a New Leafer on the move. Because they’re fundamentally anti-movement (let alone exercise), and because they’re wearing 400-quid running shoes featuring integrated chip technology capable of measuring foot-strike metrics, and so have to stop every four paces to check the calories burnt on their iFit watches.
(‘Yay! One caramel swirl down… 463 to go.’) Clad in state-of-the-art micron-laminate, moisture-wicking, odour-repelling, SPF50-enhanced clothing emblazoned with fitspirational quotes (such as, ‘Sweat is just fat crying’), they are the juddering poster men and women for ‘all the gear and no idea’.
And this is not me body-shaming but mind-shaming. Because having a pathological inability to stick at something as sacred as exercise (beyond January 31) is a legitimately shameful thing. My relationship with exercise isn’t dissimilar to a Sicilian Mafia don’s with his sister.
Don’t you go disrespecting her, and don’t you start something you can’t finish. Which means no one-, two- or three-week stands and no backing out the door with limp assurances that this ‘meant something’ – that you’ll ‘be back’. No, no, no. This isn’t kindergarten; you get nul points for trying.
There will be no dipping in and out; this is about passion and endurance. It’s about blisters and chaffing, dislocated shoulder joints and premature wind-blast-prompted facial ageing (I’m really selling it here).
It’s about the endorphins popping like fireworks in your pituitary gland, the feeling of hyper-existence you get when every muscle in your body is engaged, your heart’s beating out of your chest and you both yearn for and fear the next level.
It’s a requiem of the senses, only this mass is for the souls of the living – and if that’s ‘too heavy’ for you, then get back into your elasticated waistbands, hack off a wedge of Battenberg and settle yourself down before the glass teat for the rest of eternity. I wish I could say ‘come back when you mean business’, but New Year New Leafers never mean business.
And they will be back, just like every year, at the start of the summer, when – for a limited time only – their minds will be filled with bovine optimism, their fridges papered with progress charts and their conversations filled with fit-speak: ‘You don’t get the ass you want by sitting on it,’ ‘It’s not swagger, I’m just sore,’ and, ‘The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.’ To which – to adapt Nike’s age-old slogan – I would simply say: Just Don’t Do It.