Ollie's Modern Life

This month, all exercise and no play makes Ollie Peart a dull boy


Fuelled by lockdowns, I spent most of 2020 crisp scoffing and cake eating. It was incredible. I didn’t have a care in the world. The future was uncertain, I couldn’t leave the house, so I was going to do as I damn well please.

As lovely as it was, on the 1st of January this year, blurry eyed and more than a little hung over, I caught a glance of my naked body in the mirror. I couldn’t help but double take. Staring back at me was a sorry looking heinous lump. I looked like a dropped blancmange, worse, a scrotum; a saggy, sweaty, hairy mess. As I stared, my body let out a little whimper, a cry for help. It was pleading for me to do something, because if I didn’t it would return to the earth from whence it came - the bastard.  

I had to get fit.

I’ve tried to get fit and lose weight sixteen thousand, seven hundred and eighty nine times in the last five years and I’ve failed every single time. I’m not alone; 95% of all diets fail and 50% of adults who start a new exercise regime will drop out within six months. Even people who seem committed enough to splash out on their new fitness kick fail; 90% of people who join a gym as a new year kick up the arse quit after three months. It’s no wonder 30% of us are obese.

Why are we so bad at keeping fit? We all know it’s good for us, will make us feel better and potentially live longer, but we still can’t seem to stick to it.

Well, having tried to keep fit for the last few months, I think I know why. We’ve forgotten how to play. Let me explain.

Getting fit at home is the way to go these days. Who wants to shell out for a gym just to lay down in a pool of someone else’s sweat and struggle to lift weights while people watch? No thanks. YouTube is the sensible choice to keep any embarrassment at bay. 

The problem is, YouTube fitness videos are littered with unfathomably boring, chisel-jawed tossers with arms that look like big, fat, veiny cocks. Their video thumbnails look edited specifically to accentuate the veins. It’s horrible. I don’t want to have arms that look like big fat cocks. I just want enough muscle to open a slightly tight jar. Besides, I like my plumbing on the inside, not all on show like the fucking Pompidou Centre.

90% of people who join a gym as a new year kick up the arse quit after three months

More to the point, they all have as much charisma as an empty envelope. They’re so into their body and their looks they’ve forgotten to work on their personality. Any fun that could be had by working out is somehow absorbed into their swollen limbs, replaced instead by a monosyllabic, mechanical drone as dry as a cracker in the sarara. 

Why so serious? I mean, seriously? If we’re going to jump around the living room like dickheads, shouldn’t we at least have a laugh? Apparently not. The choice you have is lifeless and sterile. The fun has been surgically removed.

Outdoor gyms illustrate this better than anything. You know the ones I mean. They’re installed by the council, are painted a disgusting colour, and sit, unused, for decades. No one uses them because they look about as exciting as an endoscopy. 

The real stupidity of it all, is what they’re built next to. A playground. Kids playgrounds are designed for fun. Nothing else. There’s no agenda to build a bicep or target an ab. Yet they are a near perfect example of how an adult gym should be.

Our whole idea of what it means to keep fit needs to change. It shouldn’t be called fitness for a start, it should just be called ‘playing’ and we should be encouraged to do it all the time. We should replace steps with climbing walls and footpaths with monkey bars. Let’s install giant ball pits in every park, in every corner of the country. Cycling wearing lycra should be banned, especially for commuters, instead we should all have to dress like vicars and carry a baguette. Every hill should have a travelator complete with Gladiator to compete against and anywhere selling cake should have a tightrope to access.

I’m not entirely sure where it all went wrong. Somewhere between Mr Motivator and Hulk Hogan I expect. It doesn’t really matter. The point is we (and by we, I mean you and me) know that fitness needs to be fun. And for it to be fun, it has to be play. 

So what are you waiting for, go out and play. 

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