It's traditional to make resolutions at this time of year, and join a gym with good intentions; I've taken the opposite approach, by cancelling my gym membership. Well, actually there's a bit more to it than that. PruHealth are offering discounts if you take out private health insurance with them:
The exact costs will vary depending on your circumstances, e.g. which gym you want to use and how often you go to it. In my case, it currently costs me £60/month to go to the Virgin Active in Croydon, and it will cost £61/month from February onwards. With PruHealth, I'll pay £35/month for health insurance and £15/month for the gym, as long as I go at least twice a week, i.e. it will be cheaper each month even if I assume that the health insurance is worthless. The snag is that I need to re-join the gym through them, so I have to pay a new joining fee (£25) and the "occasional" rate (£40/month) for the first quarter. So, it will be a bit more expensive at first, but I've calculated 9 months as the break-even point, i.e. from November onwards I'll be saving money.
Normally when I go to the gym, I just use the pool; I enjoy swimming, but I get bored with weights. However, I see that Virgin are installing a couple of new machines which look quite fun:
* Jacob's Ladder climbing treadmill.
* Cardio Wave ice-skating/roller-blading simulator.
So, I'll try them out, and I ought to do some more cycling too (after my last attempt at an RPM class in July 2006). However, this raises some questions about clothing.
When I go swimming, it's pretty straightforward. I currently wear swim-shorts; I also have some jammers, which I prefer, but I need to slim down a bit before I can fit into them again.
For the main gym, I think I'll stick to T-shirt and tracksuit trousers for now, then see about getting some shorts later (again, I'm a bit too fat for any of my existing shorts at the moment). Arguably it would make sense to wear cycling shorts on the exercise bikes, since those seats aren't exactly comfy; on the other hand, we seemed to spend most of the time standing up during the RPM class, so that may not be much of an issue. Anyway, I've been browsing a few websites to see what they offer: the Nike store has some decent stuff, e.g. their "cardio shorts".
What surprised me is that the Men's Sportswear category on FigLeaves.com is all underwear, e.g. "sports briefs" and thongs. This makes me wonder what people normally wear as underwear for sporting activities. At school, boys would normally change into swimming trunks (so that your normal underwear wouldn't get soaked in sweat); to clarify that, I'm talking about Speedos, i.e. something that would easily fit underneath rugby shorts. Nowadays, I just wear my normal underwear, then change into clean clothes afterwards. The only kind of dedicated sports underwear I have is a "dancer's belt" (which I only wear with the Spider-Man 2099 costume). Thinking about bikes in particular, I wouldn't wear anything special if I was just cycling into college, although that's a bit less vigorous.
A related issue is laundry. I recently read the Debrett's book Manners for Men, and one section talks about "Behavioural Adjustments" (for the situation where a man has moved in with his girlfriend/wife). "Now that you're sharing a home, certain bachelor habits will bear revision, including: [...] Bi-annual laundry blitzes; laundry should be done as it occurs, not when you have nothing but pyjamas left to wear. Sports kit/team shirts etc. should be washed immediately after use."
Since I live alone, this doesn't directly affect me, but it does seem a bit odd. My approach is to wait until I have enough laundry to do a particular load (e.g. 40 degrees cotton or 50 degrees synthetic), which typically happens every week or so. Swimsuits are fairly easy to take care of; there's a spin dryer at the gym to make them damp rather than dripping wet, then I rinse the suit in cold water when I get home and hang it up to dry. However, if you do other exercise at a gym 2-3 times a week, do you really do laundry every couple of days? This is one advantage of the bulk approach at boarding school, where you can wash 100 identical garments at once, but even then we only had one sports wash per week. (We all had three garments of each type, e.g. three rugby shirts: one would be "active", one would be clean in Matron's cupboard, and one would be at the laundry, and they'd rotate around each week.) Ah well, for now I can just designate my laundry basket as toxic waste, and that should solve the problem.