Okay, you're eighty minutes into a ninety minute gym session and you're in the 'zone'. The clock is counting down, your feet are burning, legs starting to cramp up, in the silence between tracks on your mp3 you can hear the two women next to you discussing their partners lack of imagination in the bedroom, and then onto your mp3 player comes Salt-N-Pepa. You promise yourself that this won't change a thing but then you notice the speed starts to increase, legs pushing back and forth with the music, the women's rambling conversation about falling asleep during sex fade away, your heart beat is climbing.
On one of the television screens Spongebob squarepants is losing a job building houses, two screens down Libya is being bombed, on another Jamie Redknapp is torturing the English language, even without the benefit of sound you know that's what he is doing.
The song ends. Next up on the mp3 player is Donna Summer and I Feel Love, the torture continues for another four minutes and then its cooldown. Except it's not cooldown because your feet now feel two sizes bigger in your trainers, you reach for the Lucozade gym bottle with the same sense of triumph that John Mills felt as he downed that first pint of lager in 'Alex'. You step off the machine feeling like a cross between Bambi and Neil Armstrong, this is good for you isn't it?
Around the gym, bodies are hunched over exercise bikes, in the weightlifting area eyes are glazed as the improbable becomes the impossible. All the men are sweating, the women simply glow, pulling their hair into ever tighter bunches, checking their phones for messages, hoping that somebody somewhere will appreciate all this effort.
On the way out of the gym you exchange silent glances with another 'sufferer', no words are necessary, you really can 'feel each others pain'. In the changing room a small boy, fresh from the swimming pool, stares as you sit down on a bench, towel over your head, drinks bottle pressed to your lips. He says nothing. You say nothing.
Passing through reception you see the receptionist whose blue nail polish you commented on nearly two hours ago. She smiles, her uniform, make-up and hair as immaculate as when she started her shift hours ago. You return the smile, your face red, limbs aching, yet the sense of achievement unsullied by the pain.
"See you on Saturday," you say inwardly and walk out of the Leisure Centre into the cool Spring evening.