The hotel gym is in a separate building called the Pavilion, and is accessed from the rear of the hotel down twisting, tree-canopied paths snaking between designer swimming pools, and then along a beach-front path. Simply getting there is a mini-workout in itself.
Inside there were several Latex-clad, headband-wearing women jogging, cycling, stepping and ellipting(?), and a few men about my age, all of whom were sweating at the same time as going through the aforementioned exertions. And who says we can't multi-task? I strode up and down the ranks of waiting machinery like a General inspecting his troops, looking each one up and down to pick the lucky contraption that was to have the honour of lifting me another rung up the ladder of physical perfection. I finally selected a vacant treadmill in between two jogging goddesses, and Karen chose an elliptical trainer (machine that can't make up its mind whether to be a stepper or an exercise bike) in the row in front of me, and we began our workout.
Karen began by starting to exercise. I began by taking my iPod and headphones out of my pocket, connecting both, and selecting a suitably rocking album to accompany my impending Power Walk. Naturally my rotating thumb slowed to a halt at Rammstein's "Mutter", and with a sly grin of anticipation I clicked Play, rested my iPod on the narrow shelf in front of me and selected an exercise program on the computer. I kept pace as the rubber conveyor belt under my feet began to move and pick up speed.
As the machine revved up a gear so did the music. "Mein Herz Brennt" gave way to "Links-2-3-4" which in turn made way for "Sonne" & "Ich Will". By the time the wailing sirens of "Feuer Frei" invaded my ears the machine and I were marching along in top gear. As I marched, my arms started to swing more energetically, with the headphone cable too swinging in time between my head and the chest-height shelf holding my iPod.
Then several things happened in quick succession. My swinging arm caught the headphone cable, the cable popped out of the iPod's socket, and the iPod in turn leapt off the shelf and fell to the floor between my feet. I instinctively bent down to rescue my favourite gadget, afraid that I'd broken it, there was a thud, and I was conveyed, backwards, on all fours and at speed, to the waiting laminate wood floor behind, which I hit with another loud thump. All of this happened in about two seconds. Ignoring the pain in my left hand and right knee I leapt up and back "into the saddle" in an attempt to minimise my embarrassment. The woman to my right did not react at all, leading me to suspect that she hadn't heard anything through her own headphones, and the woman to my left turned to me, without breaking her stride, and asked if I was OK. I wasn't sure whether to be offended at her unconvincing show of concern or relieved that my clowning had gone largely unnoticed. I said Yes Thanks, and continued to Power Walk (only with a slight limp now), while trying to clean a black rubber mark off my poor iPod.
Afterward, Karen confessed that she had heard thump #1, and had turned in time to see me flying backwards on my knees and making thump #2. She said she hadn't said or done anything further at the time to save my blushes, but that she'd finished her own workout with a fit of the giggles. I left the gym no fitter, no lighter, and with a bruised knee and a scratched iPod. Middle-aged people everywhere be warned: physical exercise can be hazardous to your health.