Deep within Britain’s much-loved NHS is a less-loved agency called NICE. Its remit involves the QALY: Quality Adjusted Life Year. NICE’s un-nice but necessary task is to work out what a year of healthy life is worth … so it can decide, for each sick person, what the socialised healthcare system can reasonably pay.
QALY matters, if you want to get away from feelings and bring some logic to the coronavirus party. Why?
It’s Tuesday. After a quick shakey-wakey-warmup, I think for thirty seconds, then hit the floor for a set of 12 slow pushups. Then I do another set, more explosively: trying to clap before my hands hit the rug again. The blood starts to pump. But I’m already gasping. I went too fast, too soon.
A third set is more like slow planks, but I complete it. Then I head for the overhead bar and do some leg raises. Now I’m breathing easier, with 40+ reps to go. I try a pistol squat (my halfway house version, at least) but it’s…
I filled in on photography for part of a recent London PCC. That’s “Progressive Calisthenics Certification”, the only instructor course in the world focussing on the bodyweight discipline inspired by Paul Wade’s Convict Conditioning. (A book that changed my white-collar life.)
I had a blast — and would like to think I added value for participants too.
If you’re interested in volunteering on photography at a fitness event — whether it’s the calm of yoga, the madness of CrossFit, or a bunch of Jason Bournes doing martial arts — some tips might help. Here are the basics.
First, get equipped…
Hinge then plank. The ribcage flare. A broomstick down your spine. Break the horns apart. Play chicken with your junk. You have no arms.
Ever have that feeling where you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming?
I’m in a square room below street level, somewhere near Times Square. It’s my first time in NYC in four years, but the museums will have to wait. Because today’s purpose is to learn the basics of a piece of gear I’ve been trying on and off for a year plus: the kettlebell.
I’m hanging from a bar, lifting my knees to my chest. I try to roll backwards, look at the wall behind, but my weight distribution’s all wrong. Friendly hands guide my feet between my fists. It works. I flip over — rather, I get flipped — and I’m looking forward again, my arms stretched out behind and above.
I let out a whoop, because it just feels awesome.
It’s called a “skin-the-cat”, and it’s a bar move in progressive calisthenics — a philosophy of strength training that goes back to ancient Greece, performed sturdy and spartan-like and largely without equipment…
I tried a new neighbourhood gym the other day. It was terrible.
The space was great: large and airy overlooking one of London’s old docks, where men once lifted large weights as livelihood not lifestyle. But the layout, the design, the whole concept behind the place was stuck in the 80s. It wasn’t so much a gym, more your elected representative’s idea of what a gym should look like.
Every square metre was packed with machines. Around a hundred of them, all those steppers and walkers and pushers any fitness trainer knows don’t work. Barely a patch of mat big…
It started a month or two ago. About 7 am, in the bathroom.
Toothbrush in hand, I realised my chin was hitting the sink. Unthinkingly, I’d bent my knees past 90 degrees, with my backside out and torso upright. A squat. And — with the cupboard door forcing a proper shins-vertical stance — not a bad one, either.
I kept brushing throughout. 90 seconds holding, planklike, feeling the muscles loosen and flex after hours of inactivity. A warm-up.
Then headed for the office. My patch of London is currently Construction Central, and when I saw a low scaffold, I jumped…
It’s one of those times you really don’t want anyone seeing you at your window.
I’ve spent a quarter-hour tensing, thinking, flexing. Trying to recruit jangling nerves to ignore their safety settings and use a percentage of muscle they normally avoid. In my right hand is a glorified steel spring with its ends a few centimetres apart. My goal is to make those few centimetres go away.
I’m smeared to the underside of someone’s ceiling, facing up, pushing my suffocating feet against two nubbins no bigger than roots of ginger. On each hand, two fingers are hooked painfully into bowl-shaped bas-reliefs on the vertical wall the ceiling curves into. The position’s like sitting up. Except there’s no floor to sit on.
I’ve been here less than a minute. But my calves are molten lead, my forearms slabs of wet lard. There’s chalk dust in my eye, but no sweat pooling between my shoulders, because gravity’s making it drip off. Where next? There’s an outcrop I could rest…
Like many men in trades that involve more sitting than spearfishing, I’ve overcompensated for my clean-hands job with a lot of physical stuff. I’ve snowboarded and sparred, climbed tall walls and swum cold rivers, fallen through clouds and wondered under the waves. But there’s a problem.
I play action hero wannabe for the same reason as other men in that affluent gap between youth and old age: to feel alive. To get that zing that stems from being active, of hearing your breath in fast gasps with your heart hammering a hole. …