Maintenance, Attention and Progress

You know your body. You know its limits. You know what makes it hurt, what makes it groan and what makes it shudder and break. You know what makes it happy. You know how to build it and create it in a new shape. You probably think that you know your body and you know yourself a plenty.

I wanted to share this story. It’s a little personal. I was at MAC– the makeup store, not the computer store– and I was buying foundation, which I almost never wear. That’s the makeup you put all over your face to give yourself pretend perfect skin.

And I asked the salesman for help finding the right color. And he looked at me and said– almost like he was thinking out loud– he said, your neck, it’s so much more yellow than your face. And then he turned away to start looking for the impossible color that would solve this problem of the yellow right next to the so much more yellow.

And if you’re thinking, oh, this was just a sales technique to invent a problem and then offer to fix it with more products, I wish that that had been the case. But this was not an upsell. This was a cri de couer. The man really just seemed to be expressing his frustration at this stumper of my mismatched face and neck.

This sort of out-of-the-blue, perfectly sharpened comment stops you cold because it’s not an insult. It’s an observation that is true. You just hadn’t thought of it before. It’s shocking because you think, I know myself. I know what I’ve got, what I haven’t got. No one’s going to spot something about me that I haven’t already seen. Not true.

Nancy Updike, This American Life

You don’t know yourself, not necessarily as well as you might think. You might just need someone who knows a little more. I live in Liverpool, and deep tissue sports massage in Liverpool is in a boom period. Turns out, I don’t know everything about my body, I’d never had a deep tissue massage in my life and it was quite an amazing thing. My body felt so loose and free afterwards I couldn’t believe it. It was a wonderful feeling.



It’s a wonderful thing, to suddenly learn at my age that there is a whole other way to care for yourself and a whole other way of feeling. It is great!




Swimming is good for the body. It is a very effective full body work out. It exercises the legs. It exercises the arms. It exercises the core. Yes that’s right, the core. The core of your being, where your life force comes from. Where you derive your energy and appetite for life, love and lusciousness. You get all that from your core, did you know that? Well you do. So there. Swimming is also a communal activity. It is something that can be done together, and it needs to be provided for. The swimming pool has to be built and maintained. It needs to be produced. And when something is produced we learn something, we learn about the means of production. Interesting. Interesting. 


It is a communal activity, or at very least it can be, so it is something which can be provided communally, something which could be collectively funded and there for all. Like parks or health care. Or, of course, it could be privately funded and be the privilege of the privileged. Swimming pools and swimming have long played a role in how we perceive our societies. Any large thing that can be enjoyed communally provides an opportunity for states to provide, and where there is an opportunity to provide, there is an opportunity for propaganda.


Municipal Swimmin pools are often grand center pieces which are tributes to a cities ambitions and its successes. It is the communal nature of how we enjoy swimming pools that make empty and abandoned swimming pools look so sad.


Swimming pools are not built in a day, and they are not built carelessly, and they are built because there are a lot of people there to enjoy them. So when one lies abandoned and empty something has happened to those people, all those people. That picture is so sad: you feel like the swimming pool was this guys dream, he dreamed of it being full of people happily swimming together, and now it is empty and derelict. Perhaps they are dead. I feel I’m witnessing the victory of brute force and cynicism over romance and joy. Dragged from the pool, dragged from each other, we return to work and home, return to separation, and we believe that we are alone again.


And what’s the dream? What dream are we promised to get us back into work and away from the pool? That one day, one day, you might hit the big time. You will make millions. You will be the special one. You’ll get the corner office and the mansion with the cars and the helicopter and, of course, always, the pool.

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Then you can swim around in your pool. On your own. Or maybe with just your friends. And never with others, never ever with others. You could get Paramount Pools to design you you’re very own pool that looks just like you wanted it to look. I mean, you probably will never be able too afford such luxury. But what would you rather: accept your place as part of the collective and enjoy the swimming pool? Or gamble on the chance that you might get the luck of being the special one? Why wouldn’t you gamble? The only reason would be if you don’t think you’re special. Are you scared? Are you scared to compete? Oh no, oh no no no no no.


You’re not special and that’s fine.

The highest prizes will only be what you already could have had but without the social ties. That’s not better. That’s worse.


The Perfect Post-Christmas Fitness Regime

Do you feel the weight of your Christmas excesses weighing you down? You could join a gym, though you have to know that the odds will be stacked against you. There are only a rare few whose gym memberships will still be used by this time next year. You could buy expensive gym equipment and exercise at home – a valid option, but hardly the most inspiring. It can be difficult to find the motivation and keep yourself going through the long cold days of January and February. Instead, why not consider getting out there into the real world? Find something that you truly love to do. The best fitness regime is one that you love and will stick with. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on your own personal road to fitness:

– Walking and Hiking

Whether you take a gentle stroll or a brisk fell-walk or mountain hike, getting out there are locomoting by foot is good for you and can take you to some places that will take your breath away – and not just because you have climbed a steep gradient. Consider those views as rewards and you will soon find that you are always wanting the next walk, the next challenge, the next adventure. Start slowly and built up – there is no point trying to climb Ben Nevis if you have rarely left your sofa for a while. Take it easy, relax and most of all – enjoy it!

– Boot Camps and Personal Trainers

Many people opt to go for the full works and join boot training camps or hire personal trainers. This can be an extremely effective way to quickly get fit and lose weight, however also potentially very expensive.

after xmas aerobics

– Cycling

Cycling is excellent for fitness. Why sit on a static bike in your living room when you could be out on the highways and byways, on hillsides and in valleys, through ancient woodlands and along dramatic coastlines? Get out there and see the world from the back of a bike. You can go at your own speed and feel the freedom of the road, feel the wind in your hair, experience the joy of a long downhill stretch and the pleasant ache in the muscles after a long ascent. Cycle on a weekend, or to work, or to the shop, just get out there in the real world and don’t be frightened to give it a go.

– Kayaking

Like the many roads of this world, the many rivers, lakes, Lochs and seas of this world are crying out for exploration. Why not consider choosing to take up kayaking as your new fitness regime. The whole new world on the water is waiting for you to discover it. You can get to places you would never see by car far more easily than you could on foot, and get very fit without even really noticing the gradual process.



Best Jogging Routes in Central London

Keeping fit and healthy is not always easy, but rather than join an expensive gym, why not consider getting out into the fresh air for a run or a jog, or even just a walk? Even in the centre of London, there are some lovely scenic and pleasant jogging routes to be found. So, to inspire you as you plan your perambulations, here are a few suggestions for jogging routes in the capital city:

– Victoria Park

Take an eight kilometer or so jog round the perimeter of Victoria Park, one of the most historic and pleasant parks in London, or amend the route to make it longer or shorter, which is easily done. The park is pretty and the air is relatively clear, and you will see a number of other people recreating in the morning before work, or lounging on a sunny summer’s evening.

– Thames Towpath

The Thames Towpath stretches on for mile after pleasant mile along this artery of the city. Set off from Kingston and head to Hampton Court Palace, or simply jog out of the centre of the city until you get tired, at which point you can easily hop onto a train at one of the train stations on the route and head back. If you get peckish during blackberry season, these fruit are bountiful along the path.

jogging london

– Central London Riverside Jog

If you want to see many of the most beautiful and famous sites of Central London, why not take the route offered by some companies offering jogging tours of the city? Starting at Tower Bridge and finishing outside the House of Parliament, this route winds its way down the river, crossing it several times. This is not the quietest of jogs, but the interest of the sights around could take your mind off the fatigue and keep you going through the crowds.

– Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens

The wide expanses of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens are perfect for a jog. Why not plan a route through the gardens round the Serpentine. Here in the centre of the city, the place will be bustling with life – plenty to see and do as you jog or run the route. Perhaps the perfect jog, as you can make it as long or as short as you wish, and an escape route is never far away.

– Regent’s Park and Hampstead Heath

If you are new to jogging, the short circuit around pleasant Regent’s Park may be enough, but if you feel like a bit of a challenge, why not cut up through Primrose Hill to Hampstead Heath, where many more route options for your jog then open up? For a real challenge you could try to tackle the nine hills route round Hampstead Heath which is very picturesque, but designed for maximum gradient and as an intensive training regime.

Whatever your age or fitness level, just get out there and enjoy yourself.