Posts filed under ‘free range rude

Don’t tread on me

I’m quite self-conscious concerning personal space at the gym. This is because travelling on the Tube fills my quota of getting pressed up against a variety of odours and also because it’s not exactly safe to be arse-touching someone in the middle of their squat. In the free-weights area, you normally have to weave your way around or wait while someone is doing their thing, but it’s only for a few seconds and not a big deal.

On Friday I was just about to start doing some dumbbell chest presses, when a guy came along and almost knocked a dumbbell out of my hand with his arse. In a gym, I’d expect most mortals with a sense of gym etiquette would be, “I’m really sorry, didn’t see you/I tripped/I thought I saw a ghost,” because had that dumbbell landed anywhere on my face, I would have let rip once I had recovered from the rhinoplasty.

Instead, he just went about his business with his buddy and they did dumbbell flies only throughout their entire workout, grunting in a manner I’ve seen in various flavours on the labour ward. I couldn’t be bothered to say anything, I figured this is the type of guy who won’t eat fruit because, “OMFG, sugar!” But will happily chow down a tub of Superdoopermaxigainermuscle powder with added dextrose. Fairly certain it wouldn’t have happened if I looked like Oscar De La Hoya.

In the same session, I encountered a PT who was training two guys who were new to the gym. I asked how long they were going to be with the stepper: to my delight, unlike some patrons he didn’t snap/scoff/roll eyes and he told one of the guys with him to take the equipment over to me. The latter was a bit excessive, but I was touched all the same.

I’ve told B that once we have our own house complete with garage, that shall be our home gym. The answer is always,  “But where will the car live?”

The car can graduate to the garage once I can lift it.


I still have a horrendous case of the DOMS from Friday’s session, and it shocked me when I thought about how much strength I had lost. Some friends of mine run a company which offers pole dancing classes, I’m tempted to try something out a little different, and I think pulling yourself upside down and hanging there using your thighs is a neat little party trick.


1 comment February 22, 2009

Every night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

It was a pretty and clear day in a drab London teaching hospital, and I was sat in the office of a very nice consultant. He was about to give me some of the best advice to take me through medical school: find a role model in medicine, someone you can look back on in your training process with admiration and use them as a guide.

 Looking back on the years I have been tallying up, I still think fondly of this doctor who gave such good advice. There’s often such a lack of continuity in training – from the quality of teaching (if we get any) to memorising the route from theatre to the changing rooms. Most often, it’s something to deal with, but sometimes it can get you down, especially if the staff members you’re dealing with are not always as professional as they should be.

I keep short vignettes of former lovers so that when I’m old and senile, I can look back fondly on my youth and remember intricate little details that I had forgotten. That is, if I can remember the password that I used to protect those documents. I’ve started to do the same with great doctors (and other health professionals) I’ve encountered as a ‘constant,’ (see Lost season 4) to remind me when times are though that there are decent normal people out there.

I’ll start with Dr H who gave me this initial advice.


It was my second module and I was really struggling with clinical medicine. At my lowest point, I spent an hour in the evening, crying in the ladies loos. The weather was dark, depressing and cold. I was coming home to a mouldy house which was falling apart, and our landlord had just informed us that he was selling up. The same week, B and I were driving home and we saw a woman being mugged on our street. Company loves misery.  

I had to get a form signed off by Dr H, so I rang his office. He was about to do some teaching on x-rays and invited me up for the session. I had been having a lot of confidence issues, but had really made an effort for the last 3 weeks of MAU hoping that the team would notice. After the session he signed my form off and we had a chat. He told me that from what his staff had told him, they had absolutely no worries about my competence or clinical performance. He told me that if I ever wanted to spend more time in the department, he would happily have me back, and all I had to do was email him – this included if I was in my final year. I spent the afternoon dancing on endorphins.


It wasn’t necessarily what he said (although I still think it was important) but it was the first time in clinics where I had really felt a bit of human kindness from a superior. When you’re feeling low anyway, the other insignificant snippy stuff gets to you, and up until then I had still felt the sting of the previous module: the eye-rolling registrar who expected me to know as much as he did, getting very little teaching, having a locum hang up on me twice, and no meetings with my mentor as he outrightly said in front of the team he didn’t give a shit about that and the professor I had to meet with several times throughout the year to get a form signed – our first meeting and I was tallying up times he was looking at my breasts. Don’t think we don’t notice.

Having someone to look up to and think back on fondly makes the insignificant stuff so wonderfully insignificant. Of course, medics will all have views on what makes a good role model. One of my pre-requisites is, “Seems relatively normal, wouldn’t expect them to tell me they were a doctor if we met in public.” Maybe that’s a little unfair, dog knows what people think of me!

Add comment February 1, 2009

Gym manners 101: putting your weights back

It never ceases to amaze me how lacking in manners some people can be. I’m not exactly foaming at the mouth a la Daily Hate, nor am I reminiscing over how the Golden Age is over (I don’t think it ever existed) but… I often wonder whether my gym would benefit from those ‘A little thought from everyone’ posters often seen on London’s public transport.

Whatever people’s goals are at the gym; everyone is there for a primary purpose – to use the facilities. A workout can go much more smoothly if everyone cooperates and work together for the environment they’d always like to see when they go in.

This didn’t happen yesterday. I walked into the freeweights area and was stunned. Discarded dumbbells – everywhere. Pieces of tissue wiped with sweat left on the floor. Both Z-bars loaded and not in use, just shoved at the back. And the icing on the cake? Two guys deadlifting with the Olympic bar – they then unload the bar, leave it in the middle of the floor and walk off to do some ball work.

I was fuming. It’s really dangerous, especially if a dumbbell rolls in your direction and you can’t see it while walking. Not only that – and while I doubt this is the primary intention – the arrogance sets forth the message that, “Your workout isn’t that important, so I’ll let my laziness cut into your time while you tidy up for me.”

I went and spoke about it to one of the gym managers. He agreed with me and said that people tend to tidy up more when the gym team are around cleaning up. I said that it shouldn’t be part of their jobs to clean up after others. He said if I see it, I should just tell one of the team. Again, I don’t think it needs to be like a school environment ‘telling’ on other people. My boyfriend’s old gym had a poster up saying: “SEX! Now that we have your attention, please put your weights back!”

While I hate confrontation, I think I’ll just brave it and say something. I’ve done it before and it’s worked, it’ll give me more peace about it than I had the other day (although saying that – my anger led me to have an absolutely blinding workout!) It’s just a shame that I have to in the first place.

If that doesn’t work, the clean + press using the offending person as the barbell is looking better all the time.

Add comment October 30, 2008

October oddities

My gym is in full swing in terms of how busy it is. I give it another month or two before numbers start to dwindle. I had a rather odd encounter with someone the other day. I needed to use one of the benches, and there was a guy resting on his between his sets. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind switching with me during the resting period. He looked at me as if I had just asked him if I could take a shit in his mouth. He gave me a bit of attitude, “I’ll be done in a minute, yeah, ok?” (He wasn’t actually doing anything bar sitting) But I stood firm, smiled sweetly and got the bench. At this point I’d make a comment here about ‘roid rage, but I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and conclude that some people are just jerks.

Today I saw a girl using dumbbells for numerous exercises and from the corner of my eye I could see she had a copy of ‘The New Rules of Lifting for Women.’ REJOYCE!


My hair seems to have almost established its curl pattern (more curls than anticipated) I think it’s still a bit confused, not to mention quite dry (ironic since I haven’t been using shampoo). I think the worst is yet to come in terms of it getting greasy and I’m still a bit paranoid about my scalp smelling weird. The good thing is that I’ve only had compliments so far.


My tolerance to medical students (myself included) seems to be low for the first time in ages. I wish there was a cream you could buy for that.

Add comment October 13, 2008

Gone protestin’

I think the highlight of my day had to be the anti-abortion protestor complaining to one of the Abortion Rights organisers that our singing was too loud, and the 1000 pro-choicers were drowning out the 50 or so antis.

I’m taking a bit of an internet diet at the moment as my revision programme is starting to get intense. Long periods in the library are proving difficult in terms of eating. I feel rather odd bringing in a Thermos flask in the summer (or what should be anyway). I keep having horrible visualisations of my muscle wasting away at a rate of knots. I had an interesting conversation with a patient a while ago about visualisation techniques and relaxation; maybe I should visualise ‘the pump’ and muscle being packed on?

Add comment May 20, 2008

The Shit List: Pink

Many awesome things come in patch form. Nicotine patches, contraceptive patches, patchwork quilts… one thing I shall not be adding to the list, is the Pink Patch. Holy pseudoscientific patronising crapola Batman!

Yes, it’s a ‘weight loss’ patch. Unless that patch has sharp jagged edges and works by cutting off pieces of your body, I remain sceptical.

First, look at the website. It looks like a bottle of Pepto Bismol vomited all over it. Oh charming, there’s lots of PINK, you know – for girls! And the patch is pink too! How cute!

So what are they claiming to do, besides leaving the viewer with repetitive strain injury from all the eyerolling?

Want to lose thoe problem pounds?

Want to make your skinny jeans your regular jeans?

Then get Skinny witt the New Pink Diet Patch! (yes, the text was pink)

Note the capitalisation on the word Skinny. Nice!

Next comes the alliteration. I think someone did GSCE English!

  • FAST — You’ll start to burn more fat instantly! Proven to be the quickest way to infuse your body with all-natural weight loss ingredients for amazing results!
  • FRESH — Revitalise your body with the energy of the Pink Patch! With the weight coming off, you’ll feel recharged not to mention how amazing you’ll look!
  • FREE-SPIRITED — Don’t give up your social life and become a slave to the gym to achieve that perfect body. Simply put on the Pink Patch and take off that stubborn stone – it’s that easy.
  • Ah, we’re in the natural = good realm. Don’t worry, the ingredients are natural! It’s not like you’re one of those fools who takes horrible fake big-pharma evil type yellow suppliments like Spike (erm…), it’s natural! All natural ingredients, bunged together on an adhesive pink patch. How zen, earthy and natural! Fresh? Erm, well, I guess that could work. To be honest, nothing beats the fresh feeling of cool water running down your hot, sweaty body after some fartlek. Nothing beats the horrible feeling of discovering you forgot to bring an additional set of underwear, so on with the sweaty set. My personal favourite comes with the promise of being free spirited. Aren’t we lucky? Remember the last time we were told we could be all free spirited and womanly? Less of the pink and more of the crimson gushing. We get to bung cotton mice-shaped objects into our vaginas when they bleed, but it’s ok because the free-spirit inside you now can go and rollerblade by the beach in white shorts!

    So where’s the science? Well, according to the brain cells (and I use the term loosely) at pinky towers one of the active ingredients is a substance called: Fucus Vesiculosus or Bladder wrack:

    hard to pronounce, but it’s a girl’s best friend!

    Aww, don’t worry your pretty little head about it! Just slap it on and ask no question! Just a little bit of information about Bladderwrack. It should not be taken by people suffering from hyperthyroidism, cardiac problems, pregnancy and lactation. So much for the ‘no side-effects’, not really a girl’s best friend if that girl happens to have endocrine problems or is breastfeeding.

    After trawling through pink hell you get to the bottom where the No Shit element comes into force:

    All successful weight loss programs should include a sensible meal plan and an exercise program to be completely effective.

    Best part of all? The ‘free’ 6 day trial is actually signing you up for a Direct Debit payment of £35 a month. Naughty, naughty.


    3 comments May 15, 2008

    Pro-choice butter

    There are generally very few things that really tick me off. I meditate on public transport; the most stressful part of my commute (changing from mainline Victoria to to the underground) is a breeze. Boy likes to drink milk straight from the carton – I let it slide. Boy again, breaks wind on purpose while sitting on my lap – I let it slide, and slap his arse.

    The following things are guaranteed to make my blood pressure go whoooosh!

    * ‘I want to tone up, can you tell me how to tone/sculpt/firm? Weights? I don’t want to look like Arnie! You don’t understand, I’m the sort of person who bulks right up! Would those 0.0002kg pink weights be ok? What about pencils?”

    Normally after a deep intake of breath, I can verbally kick arse just by pointing the poor deluded soul in the direction of Stumptuous. The next is probably the one that really gets my bugbear.

    * “I’m pro-choice!” Awesome, brilliant, let me set up a fondue in your honour. “I’m pro-choice, but I’m against abortion if it’s over x weeks. And if it’s for y reason. And if the person hasn’t been using z contraceptives. And only if the woman feels really bad about it afterwards. And she must never have one again! What, she’s had one before? Disgusting, someone should sterlise her. In fact, no one should get an abortion!”

    I’ve spoken about pro-choice butting before so I don’t really need to rehash that again. One thing I will ask is why Nadine Dorries is claiming to be neither pro-life or pro-choice when she seems to be doing a hell of a lot to convince me it’s the former. Call a spade a spade, if you’re anti, fucking say it.

    The Ministry of Truth after some searching have come up with evidence that shows that:

    “Dorries is just the clean-skin trojan horse for the evangelical Christian right but the problem with lying is that somewhere, somehow, you’re bound to slip up…

    …and Dorries has done just that.”

    More here including a screen-shot from the horse’s mouth regarding the upper limit.

    You are right about one thing, I do want to go lower than 20 weeks – I would settle for the European average of 13 weeks, but would prefer 9.

    It’s clear to see the most recent effort has nothing to do with wanting to reduce the limit to 20 weeks. If you want to chip away at abortion rights, piece by piece, the legal limit is the easiest one to go for, as it’s the one that strikes unease with a lot of people, some pro-choicers included. Throw in some cutesy 4D ultrasound scans, a little pseudoscience (or in Nadine’s case, outright misinformation and lies) and you have a good case for lowering the limit.

    A legal limit of 20 weeks won’t be enough. Soon would start the campaigns for ‘cooling off periods’ – enforcing time limits on women (which is against you in pregnancy) between confirming that she wants an abortion and getting that abortion. Then they might want to suggest women have to look at the ultrasound scan prior to having the termination, just so that they’re ‘informed’. That might be a good time to reduce the legal limit from 20 weeks to 16. Then doing away with ‘social abortions’ – and reducing the legal limit for that to 12 weeks. The possibilities are endless.

    I sincerely hope my IUD is doing its job.

    Add comment May 8, 2008

    These 5.30am starts…

    Today was a day of many firsts.

    I was in the fracture clinic this morning and saw quite a few patients. Some were children, so it was great to get some paeds experience. I’m now very paranoid about falling out onto an outstretched hand.

    My firm also got a lot of praise from the consultant, as we were all working really hard getting out histories and presenting back. The Swedish registrar said he had never seen the clinic finish so early.

    I mastered my form on the push press, yay! I could really feel it in my delts, I’m glad I discovered this exercise.

    And someone on The F Word said: I’m sorry but I just don’t believe that you “deadlift” 60Kg. Thats more than I weigh!  I’m not quite sure why the ‘ ‘ on the word deadlift (perhaps it’s something to do with moving corpses?) but it made me raise my eyebrow just a little. Ignoring the egocentric portion of the comment, it’s not really much skin off my nose what a person thinks of my routine, weight training isn’t to everyone’s taste, but be assurred, if I was going to lie about my workout, I’d pick a sexier number than just 60kgs!

    Also, from a feminist site, I wonder how the moderation team would have reacted had it been something like I’m sorry but I just don’t believe that you “were raped”. I’m sorry but I just don’t believe that you were “fired because of a pregnancy” or I’m sorry but I just don’t believe that you “were unable” to breastfeed.

    Their rules and regs prior to posting specify that they decide what’s anti-feminist. In all honesty though, I don’t believe that what said to me was anti-feminist (just a bit rude) and I have much bigger things to care about in the grand scheme of things, but I do understand how some women feel alienated by feminism, especially my girlfriends who refuse to call themselves that for that very reason.

    More importantly, I was pleased to be walking around the flat in clothing, as my flatmate returned home earlier than I expected.

    2 comments April 9, 2008

    Do gyms have a duty of care?

    Yesterday, I met up with a good friend of mine for an early supper Hummous Bros (I recommend the hot spiced apple juice) and we had a long natter about a number of things which I’m confident will end up in a long prose of musings.

    I met K when we were working for this place and we soon became friends. K is vibrant, fun, full of energy, compassionate and randomly bursts into dance when the feeling or music grabs her. She’s very smart, has a background in psychology and I’m sure she can secretly read my subconscious. She also lifts a lot of heavy stuff, so she’s one of the few women I can have long meaningful conversations about weight training and nutrition.

    The conversation took a turn towards people we frequently see at the gym. K started talking about two individuals she sees; a woman and man. The woman comes to the gym everyday. She spends hours on the CV machines. She reads a newspaper the entire time held close up to her face and doesn’t make any eye contact beyond that. She brings in a packet of chewing gum and chews through it while training. After she is done, she goes to the changing rooms, and vomits until there is nothing left to vomit. She has done this for every single workout, this is her ritual.

    The man she sees she describes as incredibally thin, and uses the bike for an hour, then runs flat out on the treadmill for another hour, after which he is full of sweat, literally hanging off the treadmill or clinging onto something and choking in lungfuls of air very loudly.

    I’m not sure if I have described either of these people very well, it’s often difficult to convey words well on the internet, however, I trust my friend’s judgement, she works with very vulnerable members of society on a daily basis. When we worked for ‘that place’ she had a way of knowing who was going to need some extra help and care, and I believe many women walked away having a better experience than they would have done if no one had said nothing and just sent her through the process.

    She said, “If I was running a pub, and I see someone’s had enough, I could refuse to serve them. How this doesn’t seem to work at gyms, I don’t know.”

    I asked K if she had done anything about it. She had. She went to speak to the manager at her gym. Both of the individuals were well known to the manager, and all of the staff. She explained how concerned she was, and had asked the manager if he had taken any steps to speak to either of them, he hadn’t. Then he said, “Well, to be honest, you can only really admire someone like that [the man].” K knew she wasn’t going to get anywhere, and left feeling pretty pissed off.

    “Admire? That was all he could say to me?! Breena, if you saw this man, no one in their right mind could say they’re in admiration for him, he is so thin and what he is doing to himself is not healthy. I don’t know if there is something metabolic there, or psychological, but if he walked into a hospital, you would want to admit him.”

    I asked her if she was going to say something herself: “You know, l really want to. I really want to approach both of these people and just have a chat with them. I really don’t talk to anyone at my gym and I think I should, even if it’s something like, “Hi, how are you doing?” But, I know that if I try and say anything to either of those people, I’m most likely to get, “Mind your own fucking business.” And they’d probably be right. The thing is, if it’s a member of staff, they at least have that small position of authority and knowledge where they have a right to come across and say they’re a bit concerned.”

    I thought about my own gym. There are definiately a couple of individuals there who I believe are ill. But it goes beyond that. I’ve seen people do highly dangerous things with equiptment yet, the instructors have done nothing to intervene. I recall seeing a young man deadlifting with very poor form, poor enough for him to be wincing after his sets and clutching and rubbing his lower back in pain. There was an instructor in the area, he saw what happened, and walked off, as he was done rubbing WD40 into one of the machines.

    Again, there was nothing that could have stopped me from saying something. But I’m not that confident in approaching people, especially when it comes to unsolicited advice, and as a woman I don’t think I’m likely to be taken that seriously in the free weights room. Plus, thinking selfishly here, it’s not my job to be concerned about that, it’s theirs, and it goes beyond the duty of showing someone how not to fall of the treadmill so they don’t injure themselves and sue. Not tarring them all with the same brush, at my gym there are a couple of brilliant instructors who intervene when necessary, it happened with me once, and I was greatful for the advice I got, as it made my workout more effective and I progressed quicker than I would have done had I stuck to the same thing.

    Back to K’s gym, and I asked her what she thought the instructors should say. “It’s never easy to tell someone you’re concerned about their health if they’re not willing to see it themselves. But I see no harm in an instructor going up to someone and saying, “Hi, I’ve noticed that you’ve been a member for a while, would you like to come in for a health assessment?” So at least some dialogue has been opened and you can spend some time with that person going over their goals and having a chat, if they want. But standing by and doing nothing, to the extent where you’re burying your head in the sand and saying that’s something to admire – that’s wrong.” 

    I’m inclined to see things from my friend’s perspective. However, I know from experience that if a person is unwilling to seek help, anything you do or say won’t make much difference until they seek it out themselves. As a medical student, I sometimes spend more time with patients than the team does, and I’ve had patients give me information about their lives which has rung alarm bells with me. I’m not a doctor yet, but I believe I have a duty of care to that person, so with their permission, I take the information that has been given to me to a more senior member of staff, and their care can be adapted to the new information given. It’s not a case of me being ‘nice’ or wanting to stick my nose in, I believe it’s my responsibility. Back to the gyms and in the meantime, I don’t see any harm in making an attempt to reach out and get to know your clients. Fitness instructors aren’t trained therapists, doctors or experts in eating disorders and such and such, but surely they have the expertise to discuss fitness plans, nutrition and physiology in a dispassionate manner without sounding preachy?

    All sorts of people come and use gyms for a variety of reasons. Some will be successful in their quests, others will not. However, especially in my own gym, I’d like to see more of the instructors taking an active role with their clients, who all pay good money to use the facilities. Please don’t walk past when you see someone doing something stupid or dangerous. Please don’t get in the way of the machine I’m using and have a chat with your buddy, the security guard who came in for a natter. And please don’t close yourself off in your office for hours on end, looking through Facebook.

    2 comments April 6, 2008

    How it all began

    As a child, I was quite familar with exercise. I did gymnastics, rode my bike everywhere, climbed trees and the like. As a teenager, I still rode my bike, but I soon took to disliking exercise thanks to PE at school killing any interest I had on the matter. Unaware that I was suffering from depression and anxiety at the time, I was pretty sensitive to things such as learning by humiliation. So when a PE teacher of mine picked me, and 2 overweight girls to demonstrate a few passes in netball, I was suspicious. After we royally fucked it up, she looked at the rest of the class and said, “So that’s how not to do it.” She then went on to pick 3 of the girls out of the netball team to demonstrate. That was the final nail in the coffin towards any love of exercise I ever had, which was probably the worst thing considering my mental health.

    GCSEs, A levels etc, no exercise.

    I started university and soon became desperate to ‘tone up’. So I went to the student gym, saw a great looking deal and paid for a year long membership. I was showed how to use the machines, and a couple of exercises using teeny tiny dumbbells. I would spend an hour on the machines three times a week. Nothing changed. I stopped going. It’s a good way to waste money, it’s probably what they mean when they say, “lose pounds instantly!”

    Fast foward to the end of 2006 and I’m in South Africa. A short trek around Table Mountain leaves me short of breath, my abdomen could pass for a second trimester pregnancy, and I have absolutely no strength. The final straw came upon overhearing two guys talking about me on the beach, one saying to the other, “Does that [me] make you want to go into the sea?”


    I could have easily have taken the path of comfort eating and feeling shit about myself for the rest of my life, but as I was holidaying with someone who used to be an athlete, I thought I’d bend his ear. And bend it I did.

    My boyfriend wanted to lose fat too, so as a gift, I bought him the Body for Life book. Being a total newbie to anything like this, I thought I’d have a quick look through. I read it from cover to cover in less than an hour. Something clicked, I don’t know what it was, but I was suddenly very interested in doing weight training.

    I started in mid-January. By March, I began to notice my clothes were looser and I was getting stronger. I knew I wanted more. Then I discovered Stumptuous and it opened my mind to all sorts of things I could do: squats, deadlifts, pull ups etc. The next time I was at the gym, I asked the instructors to show me how to deadlift and squat. I still wasn’t strong enough (or confident) to bench press the olympic bar but soon I was trawlling the internet for other interesting things I could do. The only push ups I had ever done at school were ones were I was told to rest on my knees. I started doing proper push ups. Then ones with my feet elevated. I’ve yet to do one as a handstand, but I’m working on it.

    I started measuring my body fat % about 9 months into starting out. I was roughly 23% then, I’m somewhere around 17% now. Physical benefits aside, I feel more disciplined and my self-esteem has grown in leaps and bounds.

    And I’m glad to be strong(er). I never thought I’d go into this looking for strength, in all honesty, I just saw it as a side effect to looking better naked. But now, I want to see how strong I can get. I don’t believe society currently values strength in women, which is a shame, but for now, I’m keen to see where this can take me.

    2 comments April 5, 2008

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