Did we like it?
We were slightly entertained by this Why Don’t You-like show for lazy adults who want someone as feverishly industrious as Penny Smith to sort out their lives because they can’t be bothered.
What was good about it?
• Penny Smith as the presenter. Though she will be forever tarred with the brush of jaunty triviality through her association with the bastion of irrelevance of GMTV, Penny showed a keen journalistic instinct to coax Hannah (24, and who works in ‘marketing’) to try some other calorie-burning activities other than plodding down the gym three times a week.
• Hannah exhibiting all the usual traits of someone who is inherently lazy and looks for any excuse not to attend the gym after the first few visits prove a little bit too exerting.
• The three options Penny suggested to Hannah as an alternative to the gym were all sensible and cheap. The first one was a bi-weekly hour with a personal trainer who got Hannah and her friends running around in the local park.
• The second was a “gardening gym”. While it’s a perfectly reasonable notion to get people to exercise through gardening, calling it a “gym” is a little cheeky. It is perhaps indicative of the kind of society Hannah keeps and Penny is reaching out to, that any form of exercise, even something as mundane as gardening, is now suffixed with ‘gym’ to emphasise that it involves moving around losing weight as opposed to slouching in front of the TV.
• The third option was walking to work, which for Hannah meant a 30-minute trip twice daily. But she seemed apathetic to this option as she started complaining about the rain, even though it wasn’t, and she wasn’t wearing the correct footwear.
• The inevitability of the end of Hannah’s quest for fitness when she elected to join her local gym because it was “convenient” which sums up her indifferent attitude to exercising in the first place and echoes the whining of dieters around the country who want to shed the fat at their convenience and the moment any hard toil comes into the equation they recoil blaming a lack of time or some such other lame excuse.
What was bad about it?
• Some of the commentary was tabloid TV at its worst. “Seven million people have got gym membership,” cooed Penny. “Hoping that one day they’ll have a body like Beyonce or pecs like Becks.” Completely wrong. Most people aren’t sold on the delusion that a couple of trips to the gym will make their flab slide off like a silken nightgown, most people attend a gym as they became embarrassed when they realise they can’t walk for more than ten minutes without feeling exhausted, or became stuck squeezing their corpulent frame through a tight ticket booth on the Tube. Besides, from what we can gather, Beyonce regularly has her slim body ripped to shreds in the fascistic world of women’s magazines for not having bones protruding like snapped limbs while David Beckham, for all his lordly looks, does have quite a scrawny chest.
• And following on from this, sports psychologist Simon Rea reckoned that: “People get marketed to death with images that shows they could have the perfect body.” Again, “people” aren’t that stupid.
• Another piece of commentary that sounded suspiciously like Marjorie Dawes’ twisted logic in Fat Fighters came after Hannah and her friends had endured a session with the personal trainer. “In one hour, the girls have lost 600 calories,” Penny enthused, “which means they can go and enjoy a guilt-free bowl of pasta and two glasses of wine.” So, because they’ve lost weight they want to lose they are allowed to put it all back on again, thus moving back to square one?
• The instructor at one of the gyms Hannah and Penny visit claimed: “The culture that we have here exudes the atmosphere of having a good time.” Nobody ever has a “good time” in a gym. Gyms are a purgatory people visit when they over-indulge in the twin sins of gluttony and indolence.
• Penny preaching that gyms demanding a year’s subscription is a bad thing. With over two-thirds of people dropping out before nine months, this is merely a safeguard for the gym itself but also acts as a financial compulsion to keep the flagging person going to the gym.