Leo D'Angelo Fisher Columnist

Leo covers management and leadership issues, business trends and corporate strategy. He is a former senior business writer at The Bulletin and a former host of The Business Hour on 3AW.

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Running out of patience

Published 30 March 2012 14:56, Updated 04 April 2012 09:39

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After a particularly gruelling day slaving over a hot keyboard – these columns don’t write themselves, you know – I decided a brisk walk through the city was in order. For I understand the importance of health and wellbeing. That said, I have to admit that the walk took me to my new favourite pub, the Bertha Brown, on Flinders Street – but a walk is a walk.

The walk back to the office was not quite so brisk but there was no doubting my wellbeing.

Coming back from Bertha Brown’s, however, I couldn’t help but notice how many joggers were flitting around the place. Even allowing for the possibility that I was seeing double, there were a lot of them.

I have noticed lately a resurgence in the mania for fitness. This is not a welcome development. People who exercise regularly – joggers, marathon runners and gym junkies – are the most boring people on this or any planet.

That seems a bit harsh. Let me think about that for a moment. No, that’s about the size of it. They’re boring. Fit, but boring.

I can forgive their self-righteous adherence to rigorous and elaborate exercise regimes. What stretches my limited reserves of tolerance is their insistence on being seen to have rigorous and elaborate exercise regimes.

It had seemed to me that the city jogger had all but disappeared; but I was either mistaken, or they’re back. In huge numbers. And it’s not pleasant. Herds of wiry, sweating men in tiny satin shorts surge through the cityscape. Their faces are flushed, earnest and intense as they trudge ever onwards. What runs through the minds of these dedicated athletes? Just three words: “Look at me.”

And yes, I did mean to say “men”. I rarely see women jogging in the city. Why is that? I’m sure just as many women are fanatical about exercising but I suspect it’s not as important for them to be seen. There’s a PhD thesis for someone.

On the subject of being seen: as if the blight of city joggers is not enough to contend with, my precious space was recently invaded by a horde of exercisers led by a personal trainer.

BRW is located within the new Media House complex on the edge of the Docklands precinct in Melbourne. The building, home of The Age newspaper, is fronted by a landscaped plaza at the head of which is an outdoor café that overlooks this tranquil square of greenery amidst the city hubbub. This is where I was enjoying a quiet cup of coffee, when the muscle-bound personal trainer arrived with his enthusiastic charges.

The horde’s frenetic and somewhat ostentatious exercises mainly involved pointing their nut-cracker bottoms in my direction – bottoms clad in either aforementioned tiny satin shorts or lycra. This was not conducive to enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee. Fortunately, they’ve not been back, so I’ve delayed making a formal complaint to the building supervisor.

The desire to be seen in all their sweaty glory is one reason why I find avid exercisers tiresome. But it gets worse.

What makes people who treat exercise as a religious experience so unbearable is not just their vainglory. It’s the fact that they want to talk about it all the time. There is nothing so tedious as exercise bores who gather in the workplace to discuss their exercise regimes in the most exacting detail. How many push ups in the morning; how many laps in the pool; the most desirable order and quantity of exercises; updates on the condition of “hammies” and how they compare with previous “hammies”; the vicissitudes of jogging in 40-degree heat or flood conditions; and so much more.

Marathon runners in particular seem to go on and on – as befits a marathon runner: how many stops in their “half-marathon” on the weekend; how many people threw up in the marathon; how their half-marathon time compared with their last 23 half-marathons; nostalgic (and repetitive) recollections about the marathon they ran in New York; and inevitably stories about heart attacks (unfortunately not theirs), old people and women with prams recording creditable times, or alternatively, for the really serious jocks, old people and women with prams who get in the way and “spoil it for everyone”.

Then there are the endless philosophical discussions: to run or to walk; swimming versus cardio funk; the best running shoes; running shoes versus no shoes; personal trainers versus do it yourself. Blah, blah, blah.

It’s all too much. There should be quiet rooms in city office buildings, preferably not on my floor, reserved for exercise bores to knock themselves out.

Sedentary people, on the other hand, have no interest in sharing their exploits. There’s not much to say really. Other than: “They lied about the paperless office”, “Why is this computer so slow today?”, “Who’s for the pub tonight?”, or the desk-jockey’s favourite: “Did you hear about Alastair from Sector 7G? He had a heart attack while jogging in the city.”

It’s best if they don’t die: then I can laugh. I’m only joking. I’d laugh anyway.

Do you agree? Write and tell me your views.

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