Glorious Weather Turns Us Into Fitness Fanatics
Golfshake's Derek Clements shares his reflections from another week in lockdown.
THERE is little doubt that we have turned into a nation of keep-fit fanatics since the nation was put into lockdown, helped in no small measure by the glorious weather most of us have been experiencing.
Being in the great outdoors while exercising is good for our physical and mental wellbeing. But, of course, these are strange times indeed, when we have all become wary of getting too close to other people. Since restrictions have been eased more people have been taking the opportunity to get outside and I have been struck by precisely how many people are now running, power walking, cycling and performing exercise in my local park.
Thankfully, most people have been sensible although on Bank Holiday Monday I witnessed 10 young men playing football and making no attempt to social distance. This was a proper game of football, during which they were tackling one another. It was pointed out to them that they should not have been doing it. Sadly, you can probably imagine the response. What is the matter with these people? And they are not exceptions.
As I continue with my keep-fit programme I have realised that life will probably never be the same again. Will we ever again feel comfortable being in large groups? This year I should have been seeing The Killers, Snow Patrol, Simple Minds, Guns ’n’ Roses, Riverdance and La Boheme at the Royal Opera House. All of them were cancelled. Had it not been for the pandemic, I would have happily mingled with thousands of other people at these events. I have now been given alternative dates for almost all of them, but will I want to go?
Just before the lockdown I saw The Stereophics at Newcastle Arena. I look back now and cannot quite believe that I did it - or that I got away with it. I didn’t break any rules, but coronavirus was already running rampant at the time. I visited bars and restaurants on that trip, stayed in a hotel, shared lift with strangers and rubbed shoulders with dozens of concertgoers as I queued to buy drinks.
My plan is to keep up the work I have done so far. I really don’t want to continue jogging because, quite frankly, I really don’t enjoy it, but I fancy joining a gym and I want to start swimming regularly. But how do I feel about being in close proximity to other sweaty bodies? How do I feel about sharing changing rooms with complete strangers? In time, I guess that our anxieties will ease but, for now, the thought fills me with dread.
I have been working from home since the middle of March. Will I ever again want to climb on board a commuter train and travel to London? Or will myself and my colleagues opt to remain at home? Who would ever have thought that life could be so different, so quickly?
Physically, I feel better than I have done for years but, as I have already told you, I have struggled with being on my own. And this hasn’t been helped by the fact that it now seems nobody is prepared to make eye contact. Am I the only one who feels this way? People cross the road to avoid me. I cross the road to avoid other people for goodness sake.
I note that many European countries are beginning to open their borders to tourists once more. I would love to go abroad. Or would I? Planes are not the healthiest form of transport in normal times. How on earth are airlines going to promote social distancing while remaining profitable? It seems inevitable that the cost of flights will rocket.
And then there are airports, places where queueing is the norm. You queue to go through passport control. You queue to have your hand baggage checked. You queue to buy your duty free. You queue to buy food and drink. And you queue while you wait to board your flight. And then you end up sitting right next to a total stranger.
A British Airways flight from Amsterdam arrived in London. It was 80% full, the cabin crew were not wearing face masks and when the plane came to rest there was the usual scrum as passengers fought to retrieve their hand luggage from the overhead storage units. Really? Would you feel comfortable in such circumstances? I know that I wouldn’t.
So perhaps I need to wait for Scotland to open for business, climb into my car, head north and breathe in the fresh air of my homeland. Or do I take my newly-fit body off to Cornwall or the Lake District, knowing both will probably be awash with holidaymakers? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the rest of 2020 being locked away. I long for the day when we switch on the TV news and we are told that there have no reported deaths caused by Covid-19. I long for the day when I can go out for my daily exercise and feel that I don’t have to cross the road to avoid people.
For many, there is a sense that we are slowly returning to normality but we still cannot get our hair cut, we still can’t hug our grandchildren, we can’t go for a pint, we can’t go and eat in our favourite restaurants, we still can’t go where we want when we want.
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