The Lazy Journalist - Monkey see, monkey exercise (just a bit)

Steve Holloway
Steve Holloway

Things are good and I’ve finally harnessed my inner simian to good effect

On Tuesday evening I had an excellent little sesh with the estimable Ryan O’Gorman, Freedom Leisure’s Health and Fitness Manager for Brighton and Hove.

A chimp with ball - Image courtesy of Shutterstock

A chimp with ball - Image courtesy of Shutterstock

I’ve been struggling of late, lacking energy and not exactly ripping it up at the gym.

But there’s nothing like a one-to-one with a supremely fit professional with a wealth of knowledge and ideas.

He also possesses the forbearance and stoicism of an especially patient saint, and managed to listen to my whining and bleating without once yawning or rolling his eyes.

It was spiffing to try out some new exercises (with the aim of gently increasing my rock-bottom energy levels) and we agreed it was mostly an ‘attitood’ problem.

The long-awaited heavy rope-whipping exercises didn’t go quite to plan. For months I’ve looked at the ropes and watched jealously as the King Alfred gym punters smashed them into the floor.

Even with the lighter of the two ropes (called Battle Ropes I’ve since discovered) I wasn’t able to generate the reality-splitting smash to the floor I’d hoped.

Instead, my limp hemp-twonking was so quiet and pathetic it probably wouldn’t have seen me thrown out of the auditorium of a competitive snooker tournament.

My progress on the sandbags wasn’t quite so pitiful, but my general lack of co-ordination and lack of understanding of a relatively simple exercise must have tested Ryan’s equanimity. At times it must have seemed like it would have been quicker to train a chimp.

He may or may not have had this in mind when we approached what proved to be by far the most successful of the day’s new tricks.

Slam Ball anyone? Me neither. But it’s pretty much what you’d imagine. A heavy old ball (about the size of basketball) which you repeatedly lift above your nut and slam into the floor.

What it lacks in sophistication it more than makes up for in satisfaction, and as a concept is easier to pick up than the hefty ball.

As I held it aloft before walloping it down I thought of the memorable scene opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, I was a dead-ringer for the apeman at the dawn of time, smashing a skull with a bone and thus creating the first weapon.

Obviously, a fiercely perspiring, largely immobile middle-aged man isn’t the most fearsome instrument of death and destruction but I enjoyed it all the same.

So, I may have found a new favourite fitness drill and it would explain why my back is quite so hairy...

To find out more about Freedom Leisure’s gyms visit