Caroline O'Donoghue: 'I've joined the gym. Well actually five of them in the course of my life'

Caroline O'Donoghue: 'I've joined the gym. Well actually five of them in the course of my life'

I have joined a gym. Actually, I’ve joined five in the course of my life, and have averaged about seven visits to each of them. Gyms make me feel like an asthmatic old Texan billionaire who can’t keep up with his young girlfriend, and instead of doing something more his speed — like, I don’t know, pilates — he just keeps getting newer and younger girlfriends.

However, like an old bachelor that settles down when all of his friends have completely given up on him,I have finally found a heartless bimbo that makes me happy. Who makes me feel like a young man of 20 again, who re-sets my shuffleboard, who holds my hand during my increasingly graphic war flashbacks.

I have finally joined a gym and have started attending it five mornings a week. I am in week six of this. The bride and groom are registered at Lululemon. Despite this heady new love affair however, I still have questions. I realise I am possibly the last person of my generation to find out how a gym works, so please bear with me.

Caroline O'Donoghue: 'I've joined the gym. Well actually five of them in the course of my life'

1. How often are we washing our gym clothes? How many items of gym clothing are we buying?

In my previous gym relationships I would have one pair of stretchy black pants and one black vest. This unimaginative combo makes me feelsleek as a puma, and also hairy as one, because my dog’s white hair sticks to the shiny material.

I never worked out hard enough or often enough to really care about how sweaty they were getting. I would throw them in the wash and then revisit them again in a year. However now I’m going a lot, I need to ask: how dirty is too dirty to wear at the gym?

Can you put on a sports bra that is literally wet from the previous day? I know these are all gross questions, but I need someone to tell me. When are we all washing our sports bras???

2. For exactly how long do I have to lift dumbbells before I am no longer paranoid by the idea of myself, aged 75, unable to carry my shopping down the street because I have the upper arm strength of a KitKat?

3. How long, in months, will it take until I am so unbelievably strong that men fear me?

4. On the subject of Men. Men at the gym. What’s going on there? At my gym there seems to be a rotating cast of five-to-fifteen men whose job it is to be at the gym.I don’t mean they are personal trainers. I mean there purpose in life is to simply become huge.

You know that moment in a monster movie where the hero kills the beast, only for a longer shadow to suddenly fall over him, and he realises he has only killed the monster’s baby, not the monster?

That’s how big these men are. Everytime I see one, an even bigger one appears to tell him off. These men are Russian dolls of ever-increasing mass. How are they so huge?

5. Also: Why are they so huge? Do they know something we don’t? Are they preparing for the apocalypse, the details of which are only being shared through the Huge Man Network? The other day I saw one running around with a gear bag balanced on his neck.

Caroline O'Donoghue: 'I've joined the gym. Well actually five of them in the course of my life'

What’s in the bag, man? Insulin? Plans for the new world order?

6. Eating. I haven’t quite sorted this bit out yet. How and what do you eat so you have enough energy to work out, but aren’t so full that you end up vomiting on yourself on the cross-trainer?

7. Personal trainers. I have booked three sessions with one, and although her English is very good, she only speaks a single sentence to me. That sentence is: “Come on, you are stronger!” and is spoken at various decibels depending on how long it is taking me to lift a thing.

My question is this: what on earth do I have to do so this woman will give me a compliment? I’m working my arse off, lady. Don’t you see that there’s a small muscle in my back that was not there before?

This morning we had our final session, and after 45 minutes I cried out “Do you see? Do you see that I’ve improved?”

For once,she dropped her stern post-Soviet yell to a lowly whisper, as though she were trying to calm down a horse. “Yes,” she said in a conciliatory tone.“You are getting… a little stronger.”

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