Fitness Column: The end of a beautiful relationship...

'˜What on earth are you doing?' exclaimed my other half when he spotted me barefoot and hands on hips attempting to open the kitchen door with my feet.

Isn’t it obvious? I was attempting the latest core strengthening exercise I’d read about online somewhere. ‘Who needs to sweat it out in the gym, just build exercise into your daily routine’ type of thing; you get the drift. Such advice is everywhere - blogs, papers, magazines - and hard to avoid.

But I did have a good reason for giving this admittedly bizarre exercise regime a whirl; it’s almost a crime to admit it in these fitness obsessed days but I have cancelled my gym membership.

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Actually, I am a bit of a weirdo in that I actually enjoyed going to the gym. A sporty type in my youth, I enjoyed the challenge, setting myself goals and targets. When my children were young it was also valuable ‘me time’. When I returned to more challenges in the workplace, pounding the treadmill was a brilliant stress buster.

But after twenty plus years I decided that the time had come to cancel the direct debit. The weaning off process was gradual, but there was no doubt that the time had come when what had been three times a week visits at peak gym bunny had diminished to once a week if I was lucky.

I had mulled over it long and hard. Would it signal the start of the slippery slope towards life as a sloth on the sofa?

But what I’d realised as I hurtled towards my seventh decade was that I felt more benefit from a combination of being outdoors and a less hard core (well by my standards) routine.

I also knew that I still had to have a plan to combat a working life spent largely desk bound in front of a screen.

So, the cash saved on gym membership was spent on a new bike. I’m not a great fan of dicing with death as I burn the calories so living near a network of cycle paths and greenways is great. I can relax and enjoy the scenery while getting a fix of serotonin-boosting sunlight at the same time. The fact that there are coffee shops serving up a decent cappuccino along my favourite routes is a bonus,

Spending weekends enjoying the fact that we live in one of the most beautiful counties in the country is high on the list now too.

Although, note to self: make sure you always take an OS map with you to ensure that the seven mile stroll doesn’t stretch out into a route march as you struggle to find the way back to the start.

Power walking - or at least striding out as fast as a bag containing a mobile office and a sensible lunch will allow - is part of the weekday routine too if I’m heading to a local office or the station.

And then there’s that old trick of always taking the stairs instead of the lift. Well, not quite always; five floors laden down with kit is a bit of a stretch to be honest.

So there is (active) life after the gym after all. It’s just a case of finding what works for you- and realising that the ideal exercise regime changes.

And, since you ask, I did manage to open the door with my feet.