I’m thinking of going on strike. Not from work (that kind of thing doesn’t wash in this part of the world), but from the gym. This isn’t because I don’t like the gym, I do, but it’s just not working. And by ‘not working’, I’m not referring to the functionality of the running machines, rowing machines and all the other gadgets that have rendered outdoor exercise obsolete – no, by ‘not working’, I’m referring to the fact that no matter how often I squat, stand up and squat again, or squirm and sweat under a bench press, I stay the same shape (that is to say a series of oblongs all stuck on top of one another).
Granted, I feel fitter, but – let’s be honest – none of us go to the gym to feel good, we go to look good. As with any city that enjoys year-round sunshine, Dubai is a body-conscious place; the prevalence of summer pool parties, beaches, and waterparks mean that there’s always an opportunity to shed clothing. And when I do, I want to look like Hugh Jackman or any number of the male celebs who have been snapped ‘unawares’ as they take time off at the beach with their children and their six-packs (before finding their way onto the cover of a gossip magazine). Is this too much to ask?
Apparently, yes. As my better half is quick to point out, these people are paid to obtain six-packs, look nice on screen and occasionally appear in magazines to make the rest of us feel self-conscious. I, on the other hand, have to make do with 20-minutes on a cross-trainer before being paid to sit in an office most days. Besides, I’m told men don’t have to put up with half the social pressures our female counterparts. do
If anything, I should be thankful that our sunny city by the sea is motivation in itself for me to keep fit (albeit for the wrong reasons). And while looks aren’t everything (for the record: they’re really not), I should enjoy living in the midst of such toned, tanned and beautiful people while I can. After all, I come from the North of England – visit an outlet mall on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll realise that the local men don’t all look like Daniel Craig.
So, maybe I’ll stick with the gym after all. While I’m not destined to be papped on a beach any time soon, at least I can stay fit, ogle at myself in multitudinous mirrors every morning, and hopefully, one day, boast a better-toned series of oblongs.
Oliver Robinson is our Deputy Editor. If you see someone wandering aimlessly around the gym, it’s him.