Waiter workout morphs to writer's desk cramp
Warning: Journalism not good for the body
In my life before journalism, I spent the days and nights slaving away in the hospitality sector.
Those who are too high-brow to stoop to the level of serving people food to pay for their own will have no idea how good a workout you can get by doing a shift in a bar, cafe or restaurant.
At least eight hours on your feet, dashing around after people, is just as good as going for a run, while lugging crates of milk or kegs of beer is all the weight training you need.
Bend your knees for getting things out of low cupboards and you will easily do 50 squats a day.
But those days are well and truly behind me. Journalism has made me a desk jockey.
Sure, my fingers and thumbs have never been fitter after putting in thousands of keystrokes each day but I get nowhere near as much exercise as I used to.
While some reporters here are into all sorts of fitness regimes, my physical activity consists of walking the dog, the occasional run, playing drums, and lifting music gear in and out of cars.
So how had going from waiter to writer affected my fitness? There was only one way to find out.
On a sweltering hot Manawatu day, I find myself at the Sport and Rugby Institute about to be put through my paces by personal trainer James Amon.
New Zealand under-19 cricket player Arana Noema-Barnett is there to do the same, so I have the perfect opportunity to see how I stack up against someone who actually tries to keep fit.
A glance at a whiteboard shows what we will be doing: sprints, yo-yo test, shuttles, horizontal jumps, weights, skinfold testing and being weighed. The sprints, done to check our acceleration, go off without a hitch and without me pulling my hamstring.
I am feeling good after them.
Ready for more.
Ready for anything.
Or so I thought.
The yo-yo test has replaced the beep test but works along the same lines. Beep - run to other end of the gym. Beep - run back to the line.
Beep - you have 10 seconds to walk a few metres before the sequence starts again.
I keep track of Noema-Barnett to make sure I keep the right pace and do not feel too bad at the start.
But as the beeps get closer together, the legs start to wobble.
"Head up mate, it's all good," I tell myself, mainly because the national women's sevens team had just finished their training and were getting some entertainment watching a reporter in gym gear gasping for breath.
Amon wills me on with all sorts of encouragement but the legs give out one beep away from level 16 on the test.
Noema-Barnett only manages a few more lengths before he too has to stop.
We are told to rest up, as we are set to do more running. Of course.
The next test is much simpler - run as many shuttles as possible in one minute.
When I played football, shuttles were the bread and butter of most training sessions.
But after having my legs destroyed by the yo-yo test I have no hope of keeping up.
Noema-Barnett again manages to better me, fitting in a few more lengths.
We then get our jump distance tested before going on to what I am most worried about - skinfold testing and being weighed.
It is no secret I have put on a bit of weight in the past two years, so I am braced for bad results.
I come in about 70 kilograms - far better than I thought I would be.
They do say fat is lighter than muscle though, so what better way to check what I am made of than pushing some tin.
I have never done weight training in my life, so Amon quickly runs through some basics to make sure I do not end up with a crushed ribcage.
We take it slowly, increasing the load until I am lifting the same amount as I weigh.
While it took a while for my toothpick-like arms to lift the bar to the top, I did manage to get it done.
Overall, I am surprised at how well I did.
While the official results have not yet landed, I managed to run further than I thought I would and do not weigh nearly as much as I thought I would.
Will I be hitting the gym in earnest now? Probably not.
But I will need to work off the aftermath of Christmas feasting somehow.
I think the dog is going to get a few more walks in the new year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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