Self-outed, unfit men of a certain age with a higher-than-is-strictly-good-for-you Body Mass Index have been gathering at all SPL clubs and Hamilton Accies to take part in a health and fitness programme allied to research being carried out by the Medical Research Council and universities. A participating Voice contributor reports, between gulps of oxygen and mouthfuls of bananas.
It’s voluntary, it’s not particularly strenuous and it’s good fun.
About fifteen of us gather every Tuesday at Pittodrie with community coaches Jason and Scott, weigh ourselves, discuss topics such as food intake, mild exercising and the downsides of booze. Everyone has a pedometer with weekly targets on step count.
Last week, following the previous session’s discussions on calorie intake and fat-burning, the pre-session chat was like an edition of ‘Loose Women’ as hairy men discussed the relative merits of low-fat yoghurt and M&M addiction.
Said one participant:
“Of course, I’ll go home and tell the wife that we spent the time talking about last week’s Dons game”
We all knew what he meant.
There’s a superb atmosphere of mutual support for our shared pursuit. Each participant knows what 5% and 10% weight losses will mean personally. Hard work goes on between weekly sessions to reach and exceed step count targets, to avoid industrial estate cheeseburger vans and to reduce the five pints/steak pie matchday ritual.
The track around The Hallowed Turf is ours for the evening to increase that step count. That’s also a time to chat to new friends about our efforts in the previous week and make obscene gestures to the empty away section on each circuit. Old habits die hard.
In the concourse of the Richard Donald Stand, Jason and Scott introduce us to simple exercises to aid fitness and increase strength and suppleness. Rudimentary football drills also feature, but Craig Brown has yet to pop his head round the door and say,
“You’re just what I’m looking for son, you’re partnering Verno upfront on Saturday”.
We’re nearly halfway through the programme, the second that has been run by the Dons Community Department this season. The previous group still meets on a Monday evening to exercise and play mildly strenuous 5-a-side. Some from the current programme have joined them and have been made welcome.
The encouragement and enthusiasm is phenomenal, the laughs many and the dedication remarkable considering we all have day jobs, family commitments and the temptation to lounge on the settee watching Corrie when we really should be strolling around the suburbs overdriving the pedometer.
All results are confidential to the participants and the researchers, but of course we all share our step count and our weight loss, if any.
The current programme completes at the end of April. You’ll hear from me again then.