I have the body of someone who’s been sitting still for decades | Zoe Williams


My glutes barely engage at all; my arse quite literally cant be arsed

Nyambe Ikasaya, 38, no longer wants to be called a personal trainer. He floats fitness and wellbeing facilitator, and I tell him Ill think of something better. (Gyms make me obnoxiously dominant. Icant wina squat-off, but I can pour scorn on words like facilitator.) The blood tests, the hypoxic chamber, those results are all on their way: Im having a full-body MOT and this is just phase one, the bit where they check your wing mirrors and make sure youre not two cars welded together. Nyambe attaches some pads to my hand and foot. Its a tiny electric pulse, you wont feel it, he says, which I dont believe but turns out to be true.

My results are incredible: 15% fat, 85% lean, 0.2% Wonder Woman. My metabolic rate is such that I can burn 1,552 calories a day without even getting out of bed. Nyambe looks at me with calm bemusement. He shimmers with good health, yet it turns out I am fitter than him. Ive sometimes been in situations, he says slowly, where a person hasnt got their height exactly right, so Im just going to check that. Huh. I was out by 15cm. Damned metric system. At 174cm, my numbers make more sense: 33.4litres of body water, which is normal, 23%fat. My fitness goal, according to Nyambe, shouldbetogain 4kg of solid muscle.

Mine is the scrawny, crow-like version of middle age, which doesnt get enough sympathy, because weight loss gets all the attention. Dusty, obsolete muscles, unused since the 90s, like a Nokia in a cutlery drawer. I have the body of a person whos been sitting still for decades, hunched forward, jabbing her chin at imaginary enemies. I have an overly strong anterior aspect (front muscles), compensating for a weak posterior one; Nyambe can tell this just by looking at me. When you move your legs, your muscles should engage in a particular order: hamstring, glutes, lower back. My glutes barely engage at all; my arse quite literally cant be arsed.

I do five and a half press-ups like a weakling in the opening shot of a prison movie. I can do a wall sit (back against a wall, sat on an imaginary chair until your thighs catch fire) for 72 seconds, which Nyambe says is fair. He prescribes squats, planks, sit-ups, push-ups, wall sits, and aerobic exercise for cardio fitness, without which you wont have the energy for the rest. Two hours aweek should do it.

Theres no mystery to it, Nyambe says, bodies are designed to move. Maybe Ill move mine then. Fitness and wellbeing inspirer! I announce, triumphantly.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/us