My essay for the August ish straddles the categories of 'Personal/Humour/Lifestyle', I suppose. It's called 'Fitness First?' and it's the up-and-down story of the 20 or so years that I've spent intermittently belonging to gyms and working out: a pastime that has brought me joy and pain, you may be sure - and for which I now feel the need to make an accounting in my life. Why am I harping on this, you ask? Well, because I'm one of many 40-year-old men who received a new gym membership on said birthday from their better half. And, possibly against the run of the mill, I was very glad to have it - because a small but significant part of my adult life has been spent hefting heavy lumps on metal around padded or reinforced floors. But, but... you do get to an age where the gravity of time sits heavy on your shoulders. As I say in the piece:
"... at this new Health Club of mine the fight I am picking is with Nature. My genes having been tidily downloaded to my kids, I am now expendable: Nature has written me off, reckons it has no further business with me. And Nature might be right. Every ten years a man loses four-to-six pounds of muscle. After 40 his testosterone levels ebb, his body hair shrivels, his spine weakens until he’s nearly as titchy as Tom Cruise.
I don’t presume to reverse that process, merely to ward it off just for a bit. I want to feel my heart racing, but under my control; to feel some vigour again in my limbs; to recapture that natural high of physical exertion – the high that brings no self-hating hangover, leaves one indeed feeling better in the morning. My body remembers all this, however vaguely. Because I have a long, complex relationship with gyms..."
To read on, as I'm sure you're dying to on the basis of that, give yourself a present of the August Esquire, it's £4.25 and there's loads of lovely stuff in it. Wrapped round the exterior and draped across a few pages therein is Abigail Clancy (pictured), who I believe has just enjoyed the loveliest of wedding days and is thus newly married to a professional footballer and accomplished body-popper.