Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gym and tonic

I think most people would agree that gratuitous non-competitive exercise is a necessary evil rather than one of life's great pleasures. For most of my own very nearly 50 years it's always been fairly near the bottom of the to do list...and when the day is disappearing the gym trip would conveniently find its way to the next day's agenda. And the next.

Until now.

The imminent challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro has finally focused my mind, and for probably the first time exercise has been right at the top of my priority list over the last few months. We'll soon see if this completely out of character steely eyed focus has paid off. And if it has it will largely be due to the third space gym in London.

If you really have to get fit - whatever your personal agenda - this is the place to do it. I'm not on commission, honest...but this place is motivating, stimulating, professional and - damn, I never thought I'd hear myself say this - sometimes even FUN.

I've concentrated mainly on using the hypoxic chamber as a way of preparing as much as possible for trekking at altitude. We know we're attempting the climb with minimal acclimitisation time, and then ascending faster than the optimal pace, so exercising at a simulated 8,500 feet with reduced oxygen is at least a start. Not the 20,000 feet we'll need to conquer, but hopefully a small edge.

But the whole gym is so open, an atmospheric architectural mix of glass and steel, that you feel like you're taking part in a spinning class, or Thai boxing, or in the swimming pool through the glass floor below you, whatever your own activity might be. And the in-house DJ spinning the decks projects a funky image that just puts an extra skip in your treadmill pace. Fancy a game of ping-pong or foos? No problem. And a range of classes that make you sweat just reading the schedule. I haven't tried the Persian cerebral Pilates session yet, but I'm sure it's rewarding.

There are some great personal trainers who will design a programme to suit your own objectives. And not like other gyms...they really listen to you and think about the programme, it's not just By The Numbers. Thanks to JD and Chris, both Kili conquerors, for their motivation and wise words!

And if you're unlucky enough to need the services of the medical centre, everyone there is equally professional and attentive. My ageing body has needed the manipulations of Clare, Belinda and Barry over the last few months...special thanks to Barry for his expert physio work on my dodgy back this week. I'm raring to go now...especially as Mrs M has offered to carry my rucksack all the way up Kili.

So huge thanks to everyone at the third space. Keeping fit can really be fun after, that's a revelation. Shame it took me 50 years to find out.


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