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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


i remember gold’s gym
there was a time when i was a gym rat. i loved doing weights. i would pump iron happily even though i knew i was never ever going to have a sculpted defined physique (those damned doughnuts).
when i was studying at the london school of economics i went to gold’s gym in great newport street. i would finish my studies go to the gym work out and then go home (after a visit to some bookshops and record stores).
the thing about gold’s gym was that it was a bodybuilder’s gym. it was hardcore. there were machines there but mostly there were lots of loose weights for people to do their many many reps. so there were lots of people there who had biceps the size of a baby’s head.
on one occasion i was working out quite hard. i was hitting my thighs quite hard. squats and leg presses. then it hit me a wave of nausea. cold sweat merged with the hot sweat of the work out. i stopped what i was doing to go outside to get a breath of fresh air (well as fresh as you can get in the busy heart of central london). i was bent over double trying to get my breath and settle my guts and hoping i wasn’t going to hurl. i was there for several minutes. then from the gym a little old woman came out to tell me that the gym management didn’t want people giving the gym a bad name. i suppose they were worried that my washed out pale face made me look like a drug addict.
one day i was there and a very large brute of a man was working out. he was obviously very hard core and very much working out to get himself into bodybuilding competition shape. his sweat pants ripped into shorts, big work boots on, the arms of his check shirt torn off. he was doing curls, very slow and very precise. large veins and sinews working over even larger muscles. he had a nice rhythm to his work. a big grunt at the end of his set. weights thrown to the floor. very impressive. as i watched one of the lithe girls who worked out at the gym went over to him. they were obviously friends. she was telling him about her latest casting call. he listened. then replied.
‘oooh i know, he is such a rotter.’ even larry grayson had a butcher voice. the fey feminine voice seemed so wrong coming from this hulk of a man. luckily i didn’t laugh.
i have to confess that i have a thing for muscular women. i also have a thing for women’s shoulders, yeah i know odd. so i was working out on my lats. using the lat pull down machine. i was trying hard to control the movement. keeping it slow, feeling the burn in the muscles as they contract and relax. keeping the breathing just right. one. two. three. work that muscle.
i finished my set. a voice asked if they could work in with me. i turned to the voice and there stood carolyn cheshire, at the time she was a quite famous british bodybuilder.
sure i said.
she sat down. took out the peg in the stack of weights i was using, or more accurately struggling with, and placed it ten or 12 slots below the weight i had used. she worked the weight smoothly and easily. none of the struggle i had. i was in awe as i watched her work. i stared at her back as the muscles coiled under her tanned skin. it was all i could do not to go over to her and lick her shoulders. as much as it was a chance missed it was probably a wise move on my part.
i have long since left the gym behind me and the doughnuts have taken their toll.
maybe it is time to start exercising again.

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