“I’ve lassoed the kettlebell weight. Do I win something?”

It’s been over a week and I’m still doing exercise. I think this may be a sign of deep-seated mental illness. Every time I train I effectively forfeit my right to walk properly for the next couple of days. This is not a good trade in my view. In fact, two of three gym sessions have resulted in me not being able to slump on the sofa properly. Like now. That’s just plain unacceptable.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I could make a solid living from charging entry to watch my sessions. Even the man who runs the gym, who must be used to seeing comedy workouts by now, can’t help but chuckle along as I wheeze and make random, sporadic movements. He thinks I can’t see him laughing but I can; there are mirrors everywhere.

There is no suitable picture today, so here is a confused owl.

There is no suitable picture today, so here is a confused owl.

I’ve also realised that when I work out I look very, very silly. My face contorts into a mixture of pain and confusion as my body is ravaged by unexpected movement. I begin to throw juddering, erratic and slightly disturbing shapes which are in no way in time with the background music. In truth, it looks exactly like when I try to do dancing – and I’ve realised that this is another one of the reasons I don’t have a girlfriend. In future I shall refrain from dancing.

Two incidents really stuck out today as blindingly, hilariously incompetent.

First, after a few sets on the arms where my motions made me look a bit like a constipated cod, Deepak tried me on skipping.

For the record, I am not a skipper.

Skipping was something the girls did while us boys went and fought with sticks. When I was 7. It is not, I maintain, a healthy activity for an adult. As a result, I could not get the hang of skipping. Every time I managed to get the rope over my head I celebrated, forgetting that I had to move my feet. Split seconds later, my cheering mind would suddenly shout “Warning! Something’s coming towards your feet”, and then the rope would hit my feet.

Often I couldn’t actually get the rope around me in a suitable arc. Once I managed to somehow snare a nearby kettlebell weight, making me feel tough like a cowboy. It was the best thing I did with the skipping rope. I did not manage a single actual skip. We did resting instead.

Perhaps the coup de grace of today’s session was when Deepak cracked out the medicine ball. He lay on the mat, feet facing me, in a sit up position. I threw the ball to him, he reclined, touched the ball on the mat behind his head, threw it back to me. A simple idea.

One of the things they don’t tell you about medicine balls is that they’re particularly smooth. This one sailed through my attempted catch,  accelerated towards my body, and struck me square in the plums. I went down like a sack of potatoes and that was when we decided that the session had reached a natural end.

In other news, I found this flythrough of one of the zones I’ll be up against in May. It’s one zone out of 15.

Help! I’m going to be killed!

Help! I’ve taken exercise!

Dear Doctor,

I took a heavy dose of exercise yesterday and am presenting symptoms of extreme pain, reduced movement and a mild sense of pride and self-fulfilment. I admit to dabbling with exercise in my teens, and I have to say that it was widely available at school, but my past experiences indicate that I might well be dangerously allergic to it.

Am I going to die?

Best regards,


That may sound melodramatic, largely because it is, but allow me to elaborate slightly. Shortly before Christmas an email went round at work asking people to sign up for an ‘adventure race’ in May. Not really bothering to read the details I immediately put my name down. Great outdoors, bunch of mates, camping, bit of larking about, how hard could it be?

Some weeks later I read some of the informational blurb about the event. If you want a really good, soul-cleansing laugh at my expense then have a look here. Maybe watch the little video at the start. They use encouraging phrases like ‘world’s biggest assault course’ and ‘totally apocalyptic’ and ‘certainly more than a marathon’. For the more concise version, this sheep sums up the event quite nicely.

In short, I’m fucked. Those of you who know me personally will understand how much I am not built for strength or endurance events. Those that don’t should understand that I am NOT BUILT FOR STRENGTH OR ENDURANCE EVENTS.

My diet consists largely of cheese and mini kievs, interspersed with crisps. My daily routine involves sitting on a tube, sitting at a desk, sitting on another tube, lounging on the sofa and then having a well-deserved lay down. I’m a horizontal person. The vertical is foreign to me.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

This is pretty much as active as I get.

I’m also skinny. My arms are like thin wisps of cloud. I’ve seen dead cats with bigger biceps than me. If I try to run I become light-headed shortly after I start thinking about running and have to sit down with a large camembert to bring myself around. The only bulky area of my entire torso is currently my stomach, as a direct result of every single one of my lifestyle choices. I’m a skinny fat person. Everybody knows one.

So, in an effort to avoid certain death in May, I have enlisted my friend and colleague Deepak as my personal trainer. We had our first session yesterday. Deepak’s a great guy, but one of the things I have recently learnt about him is that he is criminally insane and possibly fundamentally evil. As I lay in a crumpled, weeping heap on the gym floor trying to work out if all my limbs were still attached he appraised me with a cool gaze and remarked that I’d done well because I’d pushed myself to failure.

I pushed myself to nothing. He pushed me to failure. I would have been happy doing one chest press. Not 10. Certainly not 3 sets of 10. Definitely not 3 sets of 10 interspersed with arm rows. Absolutely not the aforementioned plus about 4 other weird and wonderful torture methods. And some boxing.

Deepak has put me through one 45 minute session. Today I can barely fucking move. I’m typing this with my teeth. I’m going to bed and it’s 9pm. My muscles have gone on strike and been replaced by fire. I’m still wearing a t-shirt because my arms won’t go above my head.

He’s trying to kill me. I thank him for it.

Oddly, I’ve agreed that this can occur twice a week for at least 5 months, plus some running and cycling and swimming and badminton and dodgeball and climbing. I will keep you all updated with doubtless hilarious tales of my own ineptitude and physical agony. All I ask is that you eat a large tub of ice cream every time you read these posts, so that at least one of us is enjoying ourselves.

I’m scared.