THERE comes a time in every good life when fate lines up with destiny, opportunity collides with gluttony and someone in the family gets hold of a fitness passport.
That’s my excuse as we ease out of a winter characterised by a few too many cosy nights huddled around a bottomless packet of chips and a cheeky snifter of whatever takes your fancy.
The good life, or paddock, is all relative in terms of how far you take it, or graze in it.
And it’s often a relative who’ll let you know with a sensitive comment along the lines of: “Wow, check out your beer gut.’’
They’re not being offensive. They’re being family. It’s the universe’s way of indicating you’ve settled into your comfort zone a little too comfortably.
Receding holes on the dress belt, tight shirts and that sense you’ve become more of a person since ploughing through the pantry are others.
Time to do something about it. And getting another packet of cashews probably ain’t the thing.
Getting a fitness passport might be.
And so it came to pass in early August, as I headed to the fridge muttering for the umpteenth time ‘‘this has gotta stop’’, the unlikely document arrived.
Actually, it was a plastic swipe card.
There is a certain inevitable consequence to being in denial about denying denial.
My entry visa to an ‘‘all you don’t eat-type’’ deal offered to employees and their family members who perhaps never really go to gyms, but who may be partial to bulk value.
You know the mindset: instead of buying a $1 can of tomatoes for the spag bol, you buy a dozen because they’re on special and you stand to save at least 60 cents, and have enough tomato to survive the apocalypse.
The family fitness passport works in a similar way, offering a way to stop bingeing on one thing, by bingeing on another.
In this case, access to every gym in the local area; every fitness program ever brainstormed at boot camp; every type of weight-loss, tummy-toning machine advertised on late-night TV.
All at your disposal for a cheap, cheap price – any time, every time, sweaty time.
Pilates, yoga, fat burning, stretch and balance, aqua, hydra, alpha, beta, you name it.
A veritable smorgasbord of fitness opportunities I’d never paid much attention to until I’d sized up I was sizing up. Talk about uncanny timing.
All I had to do was take advantage. Which was probably how the problem started. There is a certain inevitable consequence to being in denial about denying denial.
Dry July hadn’t stood a chance after Monsoon June. May (Not Snack) was foreshadowed by (Ate Well) April and then of course there was Munchy March and Fed-My-Face-ruary.
Earnest August was my only hope moving forward ... at a sluggish pace. And so to exercising those economies of scale.
The fitness passport costs around $17 per week for the fam. But if you go twice a week, it’s $8.50. Go three times, then that’s half again. And so on. With a little application, the fitness industry will soon owe me money. If I actually go.
That was the mindset that got me to my first-ever Pilates class the other day.
Yes, I was ‘‘the creepy, middle-aged guy up the back of the room’’, as my children refer to any male older than One Direction at a yoga class.
I’ll give them ‘‘middle-aged man’’ and ‘‘up the back’’, because that’s what I am and where I took up position.
But I like to think I’m more creaky than creepy, because once you take the strain, the old ropes start to twang.
Talk about stretching the friendship.
‘‘Long and strong’’ is the goal, but I was hearing ‘‘pattong!’’ and ‘‘wrong’’ in there at times.
I now know where the axis of evil is. Forget the Middle East. It’s somewhere, south, just past the knee caps as you reach for the toes. ‘‘Ooga booga’’ arms really help when you’re going for gold. That, and long toes.
The class leader was caring, soothing and had the amazing ability to reverse mirror image all the instructions. Which was a big help as I struggled to not fall off my mat.
Not that I was thinking any of that during the class. I was more focused on ‘‘not grunting’’, which seemed a bit at odds with the new-age music and soft lighting.
Next night after work I found myself driven to exercise my fitness passport again. Such a change from being driven to exercise my credit card at the bottleshop.
And you know it’s becoming a bit of a distraction when you’re aware there are so many on the way home from work.
The fitness passport now makes you aware there are also many gyms on the same roads.
In that way it becomes a beacon pointing you towards prohibition.
So I hit the closest gym to my home and found myself in a room full of machines I didn’t know how to operate.
Thankfully, a kind fitness devotee was able to point out the go button on the treadmill and I was in jiggly motion again.
The trick was finding the stop button. One of the great truths I’ve learned on this journey is that it is hard to watch TV and jog at the same time, without getting spat out the back. Oh well, life skills.
The plan after Earnest August is to Spring into September, stamping my fitness passport with a slightly lighter step.