Sunday, July 21Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

New Year, New You?

As another year passes, it is with a fond farewell we wave goodbye to 2013. I feel it’s only right to have a cursory backward glance at some highlights of ‘yesteryear’. In January we had the horsemeat scandal, to be fair I didn’t really notice the change in the Tesco burgers, then again I normally prefer my Lidl pony (sorry I had to). Then in February the Pope resigned and as 2013 gained momentum, we saw a real-life, low budget Russian remake of Armageddon, complete with shattered windows and hysterical drunk members of the public – it was then that the meteor hit. As well as this, America broke for a little while, with millions of employees put on leave until Obama turned the economy off, then on again (which obviously fixed everything). But I do think that for me, the defining cultural pinnacle of 2013 has to be Miley Cyrus coming in like a ‘wrecking ball’, whilst having some kind of psychotic break. Yet alas the weird and wonderful year of 2013 is done, and with 2014 in its infancy it is time to finish looking back at what was, and look forward to a fresh New Year ahead.

For many of us, this includes forging our entire year’s aims into “New Year’s Resolutions” which personally, seem more and more contrived each year. Part of me wants to be a pioneer and make exciting new resolutions like: read instructions on microwave food packaging before throwing it away. Year after year though, I fall into the repetitive and vicious cycle of the generic resolution: to diet + get fit = lose weight. But this year I definitely mean it, my own New Year’s Resolutions being to: get fit, lose weight and complain more about things that are slowly contributing to my own Miley Cyrus style psychotic episode later in life. So bringing these aims together I felt it prudent to discuss that place that all us ‘Resolution Makers’ flock to after a holiday of excess – the gym.

Now, I like to consider myself as someone who is not in bad shape, especially considering I have spent the past month eating EVERYTHING, under the mantra: “Why not it’s Christmas!” Despite this self-assurance, I do feel that mantra has come back to bite me on the arse a little and since being left feeling rather doughy and rough around the edges, I took a leap of faith and re-entered the gym. I spotted a few of my fellow “Resolutioners” as soon as I walked in and immediately thought, “Brilliant – I have allies here”. I was wrong. We were infinitely outnumbered by a variety of gym-goers that I immediately hated and that I shall henceforth refer to as “them”. Allow me to elaborate.

I began my workout, as many do, by warming up. Naturally I chose the X-trainer or elliptical machine as some call it, mainly because if I build up enough momentum the machine can push my stubby limbs for me with minimal personal effort – clearly the perfect warm-up. I chose the end most of the machines, in an entirely empty row. After 5 minutes or so I encountered the first of “them” – “the peeker”. Of all the machines this fit, healthy girl could have chosen, she picked the one directly alongside mine. Initially I thought nothing of it…but then the peeking began, as if to say “is that honestly all you’ve done?” I felt judged. These are the type of “them” that would happily have the treadmill at a 90 degree incline, simply to make the rest of the runners feel inadequate for not being able to run vertically, whilst listening to LMFAO on full blast.

Needless to say my warm-up had been ruined, so I dismounted my machine and after a final judgemental peek, glumly realised that my calorie count was equal to about half a Jaffa cake. I soldiered on however, inspired by my fellow “Resolutioners” in the first stages of a cardiac arrest on the rowing machines. As I approached the rowers, I again picked a machine with the statutory one machine gap between all other human beings, to avoid both breaking gym protocol and to avoid further peeking. However to my horror, I had inadvertently encountered evidence of another one of “them” – “the dripper”.

As I gripped the handle of the rower, I slid off and propelled backwards. After recovering from the shock I re-examined my choice, which to my utter disdain looked like it had been slimed by a creature from Ghost-Busters. The situation was not ideal, I couldn’t just leave the machine or it would look like I just wanted to sit down. Nor could I clean it now or people would think I sweated simply by walking across the gym. So, with all my British resolve I lightly re-gripped the handle and battled through 5 minutes of “rowing” complete with all too realistic water sound effects. This baptism into my New Year of gym-going was quickly becoming a nightmare. I sought refuge in the only other place I could go, the free-weights.

As I tentatively ventured to the weight area, like a gazelle crossing the Serengeti, there was an eerie sense of calm…but all too soon this was fractured by an “ARGGH! BANG” that echoed across the gym. That’s right, I had found the leader of “them” – “the grunter”. Not satisfied with their physical presence already dominating the majority of usable space and breathable air, these fridge-shaped guys would not shut up! I get that you are pretty much lifting me in each of your arms whilst chewing on a small dumbbell, but really? I mean you’re done, literally you’ve beaten us all and you win, just look at you! So as I reached for a 10kg dumbbell (that I was perfectly contented with) and as I observed one such specimen just pick up the weight rack itself – I truly felt I had worked out enough for one day and that if I wanted to feel inadequate and judged, I could just eat a tub of Cheeselets at home whilst watching Jeremy Kyle.
I guess the far off and distant moral here could be, even the best laid plans go awry, 2014 will have its up and downs like the incline setting of a treadmill, the key will be to just keep running. So this is me wishing you a very Happy New Year, just don’t be one of…“them”.

Article: Alex Cosham

Photographs: David Murray, (Featured); (Main)