Epiphany on a treadmill

The Arches leisure centre, Greenwich, is a council-owned and run gym with two pools - the fitness pool is deep and cold and the epitome of - to use a Sunday supplement phrase - shabby chic - with 1950s peeling murals of nautical people and a long line of changing cubicles with bright curtains. The uniformity and jollity of these single booths make me think of beach huts and men in stripy all in ones and cockles and whelks and, an era of preCarry-On smut (oh I do like a bit of that)

The gym is a bit naff but I prefer it to some trumped-up corporate exercise hole - so I go there once a week, occasionally twice and sometimes pretend I know what Im doing with weights. I was on the treadmill today, a peculiarly futile activity at the best of times unless you really go for it. I ramped up the speed button to 13.5 and then 14 and felt the rubber band rotate under my feet. I watched the contours of my quads and calves in the mirrored glass and turned up my music and let myself run and run. My consciousness and body became, almost, the same entity and I soared and stretched each to a fine streak before the trance broke and I was spent. Well worth £22 a month.

According toWikipedia, an epiphany is the sudden realization or comprehension of the larger essence or meaning of something. That’s not quite it, but my experience, insignificant by itself, fits another definition of epiphany that ‘illuminates a deeper or numinous foundational frame of reference’.

William Burroughs got it best in Naked Lunch - "a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork."

My exquisite moment came in sweaty shorts on a machine in a windowless room in south east London. I love surprises; the way joy balloons anytime and anywhere.


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