It’s that time of the year when we turn our minds to fitness! We find ourselves watching the shopping channels and believing that a particular fitness machine could be the one that transforms our lives (or at least our legs).
Here are my thoughts about just a few of the fitness contraptions that have passed through my life and my dining room.
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The Exercise Bike
Yes, the humble exercise bike was the first machine to make it into my dining room. It had quite a long life and was often taken out for exercise whilst I watched a TV programme which was probably on at the same time as ‘The One Show’ but predates that. Possibly ‘Wogan’ or whatever came after ‘Wogan’ and before ‘The One Show’. It had a kind of tensioned cord which tightened to make pedalling harder and it had a speedometer but no calorie counter.
Canadian Airforce Exercises
My sister moved out and left behind a penguin book of Canadian Airforce Exercises. I used to do these religiously every night until one day during the hip raises I heard a terrible clunking noise which turned out not to be the radiators clanking as the hot water ran through them but seemed to be the top of my femur grinding against my hip socket.Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Plans for Physical Fitness: Two Books in One / Two Famous Basic Plans (The XBX Plan for Women, the 5BX Plan for Men)
Similarly, my yoga routine was gleaned from one of my sister’s cast off books. It involved lots of shoulder stands and I was very proud of the fact I could do a shoulder stand in a perfectly perpendicular fashion and then put my knees down either side of my head. I’ve since read that this is considered to be highly dangerous now and perhaps explains the constant pain I experience in my neck. I could also do the following manoeuvre and used to stand like this for ages which has obviously contributed to my early onset hip arthritis.Embed from Getty Images
Apparently it’s called Vrikshasana or the Tree Pose. It’s a balancing asana and is one of the very few standing poses in medieval hatha yoga. (Wikipedia)
Mini Twisting Stepper
Getting bored with books I decided a mini twisting stepper would improve my thighs. And it wasn’t just any mini twisting stepper. It came with elasticated bungee cords to tone the arms at the same time as toning the thighs. I believe it was endorsed by Carl Lewis. There was a problem with the first one that Amazon delivered, as it seemed impossible to assemble and I thought there was something wrong with it. They kindly replaced it with one that was exactly the same and this time I did work out how to put it together and spent many a happy hour twisting and stepping whilst listening to my Sony walkman.
Unfortunately, after all that stepping, my thighs seemed to still lack in musculature and I felt they had a definite tendency to wobble, so I made the decision to invest in a Leg Master machine. (I got quite a workout struggling down to the charity shop with the mini twisting stepper.) The Leg Master was a contraption with handlebars and you simply stood on it and moved your legs outward and in again on two sliding platforms. Obviously this simple movement was guaranteed to improve the general consistency of your thighs. The machine had the benefit of folding down so it could be stored away under the bed. It didn’t seem to do much for my thighs but maybe it spent too much time languishing under my bed and not enough time being used
I actually wish I still had the Leg Master but I’d just discovered the ability to sell unwanted goods online so, courtesy of Preloved, I packed it up and sent it to a person living hundreds of miles away in Cornwall. I wonder how her thighs are now.
I also had one of these which I call a Wheely Thing but which is actually called an Abdominal Slider Roller. A man came to our office selling these and we all bought one as we thought they would transform our stomachs ready for the Christmas Party. I don’t think they worked because on the day before the party we purchased some super strength elasticated knickers as well which allowed us to squeeze into our party dresses on the night. It was worth the pain although we couldn’t breathe properly all night or eat much of our Christmas pudding. And we had to spend a lot of time dancing as none of us could sit down in comfort with the elastic digging into our contained rolls of fat.
Sit Up Machine
Around this time, I possessed a sit up machine which was also designed to tone the abdominal muscles and would enable you to do sit-ups without straining your neck. I don’t know if I can lay the blame for my neck problem with this machine as my neck also suffers from my poor posture sitting hunched over a computer all day. However, I didn’t really enjoy using this machine and passed it, along with the Wheely Thing, to an unsuspecting member of my extended family.
Manual Treadmill and Stepper
After a long break where I mainly concentrated on using Exercise Videos of varying types (based on aerobics, Tai Chi, Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing on Ice) I accidentally came into possession of a manual folding treadmill and another mini stepper (although this one didn’t twist). Owing to a marriage break up, the machines were given space in my dining room temporarily. Only my dining room was not actually big enough to easily accommodate the manual treadmill and when it became apparent that the marriage break up was permanent it had to go. I was given the job of getting rid of the offending items and so advertised them in the local paper.
I received a phone call from an interested party and she turned up the next day to inspect the equipment. I was very surprised when I met the buyer as she was about 75 years in age, wearing a headscarf over her tightly permed grey curls, and a brown raincoat and she looked quite infirm. Now I’m not being ageist or discriminating against headscarves but she did not look like the sort of person who would want a manual treadmill and mini stepper. I just could not picture her sweating in leggings and trainers. She tested the machinery and said that, as she had got to my house on the bus, she would come back with transport to collect them the next day.
We laughed and thought that we would never see or hear from her again, but to our amazement she turned up the next day as arranged with a man in a car and they took the manual treadmill and stepper out of our lives.
I was referred by my GP for physiotherapy for my hips and at the end of the treatment I was invited to join the lower leg exercise class at the hospital for six weeks. This was thoroughly enjoyable and I wish the course had lasted longer than six weeks. We moved around various exercise machines and one of them involved balancing on a board to strengthen core muscles.
After the course finished I purchased a balance board designed by Philip Taylor from the TV Show ‘The Apprentice’. It is actually a really good piece of equipment and I still use it. (Well, it’s under the bed.) Sadly, I don’t think they make the actual ‘Body-Rocka’ anymore but it is similar to this one:
After my last round of physio for a shoulder injury, I purchased a box of resistance bands.
Hope this is the year that you follow my lead and get as fit as me! With the right equipment, you too could have the perfect body!
(Isn’t it annoying when you reach for a cake and topple off your Swedish gym ball?)