I saw a magazine article this week suggesting now would be a good time to start getting my body “beach-ready”. Living as I do in Cape Town, there is only one way to survive this endless hellish winter – under the duvet with the electric blanket on high and a steady supply of fried chicken and beer. Of course, there are mental and physical consequences. Fortunately, I live alone because my body isn’t even people-ready.
I have often seen men and women on the beach at the beginning of summer with bodies that are nowhere near ready and, quite frankly, I don’t know why it’s allowed. Entrances to public beaches should be manned by trainers from Virgin Active armed with BMI calculators. Those who don’t make the cut should be denied entry. There are other places people with unready bodies can go. This country has plenty of wilderness areas.
I will always be allowed onto the beach because I never go into the sea without being fully encased in latex rubber. You never know when there might be a little S&M action going, especially in Camps Bay. A lot of well-fed people look beach-ready in a wetsuit. But take it off. Oh, man. The horror.
I’m starting early this year. I usually leave it until mid-December, which is when summer arrives in Cape Town. Temperatures begin dropping two weeks later, so I don’t have much time to strengthen a carapace weak from months of gormandising in my burrow.
Last week I decided to man up and go to the gym. It wouldn’t be my first time. I went there once to pick up a friend. The thing is, my nearest Virgin Active is sandwiched between two malls. Mmm, sandwich. One has a Spur, the other a Krispy Kreme. I was worried that, drained from the hunt for parking, I’d need a snack before hitting the treadmill. A starter portion of buffalo wings and a rack of zebra ribs washed down with three or four draughts should do it. Then it’s across the road for a dozen hand-dipped doughnuts drizzled with white chocolate.
After that, it’s off to the gym. A two-minute walk, for the very fit. I might take an Uber.
Hold on, I said to myself. Let’s first take a look at Virgin’s website. Check out the chicks. Just kidding. If I want to meet a woman, I’ll go to a place where they won’t care what my body looks like when I take my clothes off. I don’t know where this place is, but when I find it, it’s going to be great.
After promising me a deal on membership fees, the website wanted to know my fitness goals. There are six, for some reason. I’ve left it too late to die young, but I’d still like to leave a corpse that won’t make people laugh or throw up.
I’m told that when I join, I’ll get a free consultation with a personal trainer to help ease me into my exercise regime. As a former war correspondent, I am easily triggered by words like “regime”. Junta is another one, but that’s probably not heard much around the gym.
There are three quotes from Mikhyla, Jaqualene and Noms, who definitely exist. They gush about the virtues of a good workout. Jaqualene, for instance, is just loving her new body. Mikhyla’s trainer keeps her “accountable”. And Noms loves the passion of her instructor. I don’t want Mikhyla’s trainer. Like the ANC, accountability is not my thing. But I do want to love my new body. And, if things work out, Jaqualene’s.
As part of my research, I bought a copy of Men’s Health. A 48-year-old man is on the cover, stripped to the waist. Unlike some people, Stefan hasn’t spent the preceding three decades working on developing a tolerance for alcohol and crazy women.
The cover asks, “Are you mentally fit?” It’s not a question easily answered. What’s the baseline here? Is Donald Trump mentally fit? Of course not, and yet millions of equally mentally unfit Americans want him back in the White House. Besides, judging by the kind of people who run South Africa, good mental health is not a prerequisite for success. It might even be a hindrance.
The cover also offers to tell me how to feel “five years younger”. Only five? Bro, that’s not going to do it. Then again, one of the ways is to “eat your meals during daylight hours”. It’s been linked to a slower rate of ageing “in studies conducted on animals”. Look, I’m happy that the lab rabbits are looking younger and hotter than ever, but why not just do human trials? I’d be the first to volunteer, especially if the meals were free.
If daytime eating is good for you, I imagine daytime drinking is even better. I’ve got a good feeling about this. Here’s to health and fitness! Whoops. Does anyone know how to get red wine out of a Labrador?