Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In MX today - Running from Madonna

When it comes to diet and fitness, it seems that people don’t think the oldies are the goodies.

It’s weird. If I announce I am following the latest celebrity diet, everyone is interested. After all, how what can go wrong when you follow the advice of people who believe in size zero and Scientology?

But when I mention I’ve taken up running people respond with horror. It won’t work, they tell me. Jogging is too hard. It’s bad for my joints, they wail.

I’m doing the Couch to 5k, a beginner-friendly plan designed to get you to running 5 kilometers without tears, injuries or requiring illegal steroid injections twice a week from someone called Big Boxing Bob.

I can see the results and I’m enjoying it. But people insist on worrying about my knees. Won’t someone please think of my knees?

From the stories I have heard, a small but significant proportion of the population has explosives in their patella. Much like the bus in Speed, they’re fine at a walk.  But if they ever try to go faster, disaster! Their kneecap detonates, shattering a nearby bus, Sandra Bullock’s career and any idea they might have had that Keanu Reeves can act.

Running is prehistoric; a sure fire way to exploding knees and injuries, people tell me. Have I considered the more suitable modern alternatives?

I’ve tried yoga. In the slow version I fell asleep, in the fast one I got my bits stuck in my other bits and needed to be unknotted.

Pilates is great but doesn’t burn off many calories. Rock-climbing is fun but I spend less time climbing lithely like a snow leopard and more time swinging from the harness like a cat being rescued from a tree.

I need to do something cheap and cheerful that burns off the calories. So, why can’t I just jog to get my aerobics the old fashioned way and run?

But no, people tell me I need to go more high-tech. Jogging? Outdoors? With just trainers? Where is the modernity, where is the equipment? Where is the studio with integrated FitBeat™ music blaring and a Madonna-skinny instructor shouting abuse?

People always recommend some sort of class. They’re usually called Bootcamp or DethSpin or GroinPump or something equally macho.

These classes consist of tasks like cycling insanely fast until you want to throw up or dancing insanely fast until you want to throw up (just like most Friday nights, then).

Or you can pirouette insanely around with weights such as kettlebells (which looks neither like a kettle or a bell, but does look like some the Spanish Inquisition would use) while a terrifyingly fit woman in her 50’s screams insults at you – again, until you want to throw up.

For bonus points, you can use a heavier set of weights and do more reps. For extra bonus points, you can attach the kettleball to your genitals and set yourself on fire. Or something.

Look, if I wanted to be verbally abused about my weight and fitness, I could just visit my mother. At least she doesn’t wear crotch-exposing clothing, (is it just me, or does Madonna’s bits in a leotard look like an uncooked chicken?) and she also does a nice dinner.

She’ll cook the dinner, I’ll eat the dinner and then – when she starts on my weight, waistline and how I could be such a pretty girl if I’d just look after myself – I’ll stick on my trainers and jog gently into the distance.

A healthy meal, a catch-up with family and some motivation to run, all for less than the price of a gym class.

Old fashioned? Perhaps. But it works.

Sadhbh Warren is an MX reader who would prefer Madonna if she put some pants on.


  1. Vision of uncooked chicken will haunt me for the rest of my day.... Really though all the classes etc are just avoidance of the issue which is a basic lack of motivation on most people's part. They need to pay up front have an set immutable time and an instructor all in a prebuilt guilt trap that may get them to do something. More power to you if you actually do this because you want to !!!

  2. GOLD! :)

    Even so, I am one of the idiots that goes to the class where you cycle faster than your legs can actually move (haven't thrown up yet but there's always a high possibility)!