Actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor once said that she would never have an affair as she couldn’t stand getting dressed twice in one day. At present I’m getting dressed at least three times a day. Unfortunately all this dressing and undressing is not because I’m having a steamy affair but rather I’m going to the gym again.

I have a natural aversion to exercise of any kind let alone the gym sort. To be frank I hate the thought of it, I dislike it intensely, it’s boring, sweaty and, to a large degree, uncomfortable. Devotees tell you about the ‘high’ you get from exercising. They love to say that you will become ‘addicted’ to it and even, ‘unable to live without it’! It’s lies, I tell you, all lies. It is all a wicked ruse to lure the flabby into their filthy web of fitness and health.

Whatever kind of fibs Lycra clad gym bunnies tell, it is nothing to the whoppers told on TV infomercials. You can find them on late night TV or any one of the many shopping channels on cable and Sky. You will be dazzled by the array of gadgets and machines on the market claiming that you too could have the ‘perfect body’. Evil people in the guise of ordinary Joes give testimonies about how ‘easy and fun’ it was to shape up in just 10 minutes a day! Lithe, tanned and toned beings enthuse about the virtues of The Lateral Thigh Trainer, 10 Second Abs, The Ab Lounge, Leg Magic and all the other miracle ‘lightweight’ machines that ‘fold up and can be stored easily under the bed or in a cupboard’. Take it from me, liars the lot of them.

I have a Lateral Thigh Trainer, a Mini Trampoline, a 10 Second Abs, a Swiss Ball, light weights, an exercise mat, a yoga mat and block and a library of different DVDs ranging from heavy cardio workouts to the much gentler Pilates and yoga. I’ve paid my money, sweated for 10 minutes a day during the first euphoric week of the miracle machine or DVD arriving, so where’s my super fit, super model body? Despite the gadgetry, good intentions and lots of euro invested I continued to wobble along through life with an out-of-condition shell.

Then in a light bulb moment I knew that there is only one way to get fit and that’s the hard way; sweat and work out for the rest of my life. There is no easy way, no silver bullet and no way of just doing it for a period and then being finished with it. No, my friends, sad to say this is the truth and although the truth may set you free and lead you to an enlightened path it is one littered with horrible physical exercise. Believe me I’ve tried the backstreets, the laneways, the paths through the woods, the shortcuts through the fields and still ended up on the exercise highway and although broad in its many disciplines, it is inescapable.

As an example of one of those shortcuts, in January of this year I was truly inspired by a large banner sign on the ring road that read – 12 Day Transformation. The Educo Gym, The Gym You Can’t Join! That sign spoke to me like nothing had done before. 12 days, how difficult could that be and a gym you couldn’t join was even more appealing. I’ve joined more gyms in my lifetime than I care to remember and the membership was still there long after I had stopped going. So I jumped in. I was measured, photographed, given a diet sheet and shopping list, a motivating talk and a bag of supplements with instructions.

After day one I realised that I had willingly bought and paid for a one way, 12 day ticket to boot camp hell. I couldn’t believe that I had made the decision myself and without coercion. I should have been put in an asylum for such stupidity but I’m not a quitter and so I stuck with it, willing the 12 days to be over. It was consuming. There were tablets to take at various times, powders to mix and drink, meals to prepare from scratch and daily exercise on a large industrial strength weights contraption that looked pretty harmless until you used it.


Personal touch

The personal trainers were very personal! They stayed with you all the time so there was no way to cheat and certainly no mercy. As the old joke goes, these people would have been thrown out of the Gestapo for being too cruel. ‘Give me one more’, was a common mantra that will live with me until the day I die. After three days I couldn’t walk, literally! I swung out of bed on that third morning and couldn’t put my legs on the ground. I had shredded my muscles to such a degree that I actually crawled on my knees to the bathroom. Sitting down was agony, standing up again was worse, going to the loo was a nightmare and walking down steps was tear inducing, but I struggled into my clothes and went back for more.

After several tubs of Epson Salts and around day seven it was still torture but, I felt fantastic. Despite the pain it was actually working! I could feel it in my energy levels and there were visible changes, but the regime was still consuming and it was slowly taking over my life. On day twelve I was ecstatic on one hand and yet surprisingly sorry on the other. I continued to hate the exercise and it wasn’t any easier but I could see changes, although ‘transformation’ is a little misleading. I pretty much looked the same but I could definitely feel a difference and if I could have kept it up, I don’t doubt that transformation was possible.

With the twelve days completed I decided that was enough. The Educo way definitely works and I could highly recommend it if you are really serious about toning up. I thought I was but obviously I didn’t want it that much. Also if you are an athlete it’s fantastic, but it’s not for the fainthearted, it’s not cheap either and, ultimately, it wasn’t for me. Interestingly it kept on working after the twelve days had expired even though I wasn’t doing such intensive work, I could still feel my muscles working away and I felt really good for a time. Sadly, it didn’t last forever and by the end of February I was back to doing nothing.

Then just recently the 10 Mile Challenge fundraiser for the Solas Centre, scheduled for October of this year, was launched. My significant other signed up and began training. I didn’t want to get left behind and so I followed suit. He is preparing to run the 10 miles and I’m certainly not putting that kind of pressure on myself just yet, but with a view to walking it, I too am getting fit.

So into the gym once more but this time my spirit has finally been broken. October will come and go and I know that I will still be going to the gym, 10 miles walked or not. I have resigned myself to that now. This time I’m also taking it slowly as this is now a lifestyle change so what’s the hurry. Because the two of us are going to the gym regularly we are generating the washing and ironing of a small laundry business. To iron or not to iron gym gear is the current ongoing debate and not ironing is slowly winning.

So this is the future; dressing and exercising, undressing and showering and dressing again. I fought it long enough and have finally given in to discipline and the knowledge that the long term price for not doing it is much higher than my distaste for it, but I still hate it, hate it, hate it. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever utter the words ‘you’ll love it; it’s addictive’!