To say it’s a fitness centre and not a gym comes down to etymology – No.2

For us oldies, yes I know an unkind term, but then it’s true, the gym we frequent is a fitness centre because that’s why we go. I have observed some fine figures in tightly hugging lycra. With bulging biceps, flat stomachs and slim frames. This sight makes me recall that I was once that shape. I have photos to prove it. If you are a slim creature and reading this – sorry you are not the protagonist. It’s ME and all my lovely aged crumbling folks who want to eke a bit more life out of our creaking bodies. 


Gymnos means naked in ancient Greek and so a gym surely cannot be the same as a fitness centre as we all wear clothes!

Actually if you want to split hairs over language (etymology), the two have become synonymous. Of course do your Wikipedia thing and all will be cleared up. When I was at school we swung on ropes, chucked medicine balls at each other. We jumped across a horse hair filled obstacle called a ‘horse’ and played basket ball.

My physical education (PE) teacher would have us lie down on our backs and tell us to reach the sky with our John Thomas’. At 13 I did not know who John Thomas was, but our pelvic thrusts were impressive and the abdominal muscles soon ached a day later.

ALWAYS ASK FIRST –  Am I fit enough to use the gym. If you are unsure read my article on what to look for

Diary – Day 2 Friday

A balancing act


It is 31st July, the day is the hottest so far. Heathrow recorded 37.8c, while locally we were at 27c. My second day at the gym. My stomach following  the abdominal crunches from two days ago, (and do read my first posted article Getting back to being fit again – No.1,) was aching.

It takes me about two days to feel that sensation after a work out. My style of stomach crunches were basic. Using the hard floor without a mat now, because they had been withdrawn was less comfortable. I soon wore some skin away just where it darn well hurts. I use the stomach crunches to aid tone and basic balance my back muscles. I have had 2 operations on my lower back and so I have always been a little careful. I used a pull down resistance machines for my back but then this irritated an older cervical spine problem. I believe the best tip is to find what helps, avoid what hurts, but push as hard as you can and find your limitation. The what hurts happens later and should not be confused with pushing muscles to their full capacity.

Core strength

Alan greeted me today. I had given him a hard time recently over booking and connecting to the App. but we  were good and soon chattered away. His enthusiasm is electric. Hand gel to start with, bottle of water and my paper towel and spray, all ready to go. I headed for the weights. No, silly I am oldish so not the type to make my muscles bulge. I’m dressed in a grey sports joggers and a T-shirt. Nothing fancy. I am using 6 and 8 Kg weights to keep my shoulder and arm muscles balanced around my joints. Think of it as a balance. Flexing muscles on one side and extending muscles on the other. The trick is to make sure they balance adding to core strength.

Ideally we aim to have equal tone and strength on both sides of our joints. The back must be protected and to some extent that is what building core strength is about. It doesn’t matter whether you are using equipment for any joint, the aim if to keep it even. 

Another empty session

Day 2 was an interesting experience. The booking ‘App’ had informed me that the spaces available were 15/16. And so I thought, oops better book fast as only one slot was left. No, I had misread. What the App had meant that there were 15 spaces available. No wonder then that there were just two of us. All that space to ourselves, this was heaven, I thought, but it won’t last for long. Actually apart from Bank Holiday the centre rarely was much above 1/3rd full. The cross trainer step walker was still limited to one style only. I let Alan know as I had raised this observation

How long should a session last?

Mr Creative/

Forty-five minutes goes fast and realistically it is all about compromise and priority. If you go once a week then this is not really going to help you select variety. Keeping to one piece of kit is fine but the whole work out thing is not to cripple yourself. Again, remember this article is pitched at older people. I’m 64 so I don’t expect to treat my body to a bout as if in the boxing ring thank you.

I end however on my favourite; the recliner bike. It is the last burst of energy. I expect my pulse to go way up, my heart race and sweat buckets. It’s like taking the car down the motorway to blow out all that carbon from short journeys. I hate it – love it  – hate it  – love it.

The sweat drips for some time after but I like to see that pulse rate (heart beat) come down quickly as I know that means my heart is in fair condition. More about cardio later on, but you get the idea.

And so I gel my hands and head into the sun. My next session is Tuesday. I keep away at weekends and leave it for those who work during the week. Alan tells me the gym is thinking of extending these self fitness sessions to an hour from 45 minutes. I am happy to hear this…

Next time Crashing the gym – No.3

A word of warning click here

About me

I am a retired podiatrist and had practiced foot surgery for over thirty years so I know a fair bit about body physiology and medicine. Plus, I took an additional degree in human movement and taught human biomechanics. Living life is a battle ground and most people do not realise injuries sustained when young live on with us peaking later on in life. Just like a virus gone to ground, injury just waits to flare up. That means as we age and return to exercise to keep fit we develop old problems anew.

In this series I am going to talk about my injuries so the reader can find a reference to being careful with some of the equipment. I am going to build up slowly and see where the journey takes me. My aim is to lose some weight, keep tones and stay fit. Do read my first post No.1 & 2.

Thanks for reading my new fitness series – ‘It’s a Fitness Centre not a Gym – No.2’ by David R Tollafield at

August 2020

Published by Busypencilcase Reflective Communications. Est. 2015

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