by Pauline Hughes

Gina peered at the clock.  “Oh my God, I’m late”.  She slipped out of bed, leaving Harry gently snoring, and tiptoed into the bathroom.  The cold water on her face revived her.  She pulled on her leggings and sports top and hurried downstairs.  Grabbing her fleece and her sports bag from the hall cupboard, she eased open the front door and shut it silently behind her.  Harry was such a grump if she woke him up.  He didn’t understand.

Once she was on her bike and pumping the pedals, she felt better.  She could make it by six if she really turned the speed on.  It was only ten minutes away but she could do it in eight today.

The sports centre clock showed just six as she entered.  “Made it,” she thought but her heart rate was sky high.  She completed her usual Monday morning routine – stretches, weights stepper, rowing machine.  Afterwards she showered, changed into her swimming costume and did fifty laps of front crawl in the pool.

Harry was still in bed.  “Had a good workout?” he asked as she handed him a cup of tea.  “God you look amazing, come back in here with me – I could do with a bit of exercise!”

“No – you need to get up and go to work and I’ve got loads of stuff to do this morning on my Honda contract and I’ve got to polish up my keynote speech for that conference on Change Management.  I’ve got yoga at four but I’ll be back before you, so I’ll cook.”

“I thought yoga was tomorrow?”

“No – it’s aqua-aerobics tomorrow and I’m training at the athletics club on Wednesday.”

“Don’t you think you’re overdoing it just a touch?  It’s gym or swimming or something else every day of the week.”

“Not Sundays!”

“No – not Sundays – but we do go for long walks on Sundays.  It’s just about the only time we have together.  You’re super fit and you’ve lost a bit of weight too – you could ease off a bit couldn’t you?  Exercise is like an addiction with you.”

Gina sat in front of her computer in the study but she couldn’t concentrate.  ‘Addiction’ Harry had said.  ‘Addiction.’  Was she really addicted to fitness?  Addiction meant you couldn’t stop, didn’t it?  Of course she could stop if she wanted to.

At forty-five, Gina looked good.  She had worked hard to keep it that way.  What if she gave up some of her stuff?  How long would it be before the muscles started to sag and her skin look like it needed ironing?  She would hate that and what would Harry think?  He was always telling her that she looked amazing.  She was doing it for him, wasn’t she?  She simply couldn’t conceive of not doing it.  It gave her a buzz, made her feel good, but maybe she was being a bit selfish.  Maybe she was leaving Harry on his own too much.  He had grumbled quite a lot lately and it was possible he might start to look at pastures new.  Maybe after the marathon she could ease off a bit.

“I’m so proud of you – you were brilliant.”  Harry poured her a glass of celebratory wine and helped her to the tagine that had been gently bubbling in the slow cooker all day.  Gina was so exhilarated she could not wait to do it all again.  Yes, she was tired but the feeling of achievement was like nothing else.  Running a whole marathon in four hours thirty minutes!

Harry was at work when the interactive bike arrived six months later.  It was very expensive but Gina had raided her mother’s legacy.  She asked the delivery men to set it up in her office.  They were brilliant and helped her connect to the computer app she had already downloaded.

“Aren’t you going to pilates this evening?”  Harry’s disbelief was palpable.

“No – I’ve given it up – and the gym.”  Harry’s smile was as wide as a barn door.  “I don’t believe it.  I really thought you were addicted to all that stuff.”

“Well – I’m not exactly giving it up.  I’ve got something to show you.”

Harry’s jaw dropped as Gina gave him a demo.  “You mean you could do this all day every-day?  God I think preferred the classes.”

“No, no – I can fit it in around my work during the day.  It means we can have more time together.  I still want to keep up the swimming though and the athletics training, but that’s only twice a week.”

(c) Pauline Hughes 2020