Now that I have a little extra time on my hands - only a very little obviously - I've been trying to clear my mind, reinvigorate my thoughts and excuse myself from childcare with fairly frequent visits to the gym. And it pains me to say that I have learnt a few valuable lessons in the process.
1) When on the treadmill, you think you're running fast and that your belly is swiftly thinning out as the sweat streams from your forehead. Neither are true. Whatever you do, do not run near a mirror, it will reveal the fact that you are a peculiarly slow-moving and heavy-footed blob and have no style whatsoever. Your bottom is also much bigger than you imagined it was.
2) Bottoms are key factors in getting what you need when in the gym. If you have a yummy-mummy nice one you will be closely attended to by fitness instructors even if you haven't booked an appointment. Have you not noticed they always like to gently encourage from behind? If you are male with a fat arse it is pointless trying to get their attention. Female instructors will help, of course, but the look of pity in their eyes is quite off-putting.
3) It's probably best not to make eye contact with anyone. Sooner or later you will come across someone who looks at you with utter horror. Like in those Victorian freak shows.
4) You hope that all the other men who are working out in the middle of the morning are 'resting' thespians or fellow liberated 'LinkedIn whores' who will later be looking for work. They aren't. Most of them sold their dotcom companies just a few weeks ago and are toning up before they sail their new Sunseeker around the Bahamas. Do not engage in conversation.
5) Gyms make you paranoid.
6) However hard you try, spending time in the weights area will make you look like an idiot. Either you will be so pumped up by running five km in 45 minutes that you will go for a 30kg dumbbell and drop it so suddenly and scream 'Ow' so loudly that you will draw unwanted attention to yourself; or you will play safe and lift those really teeny, kiddy weights - very proficiently - but inducing stifled giggles among the meatheads.
7) Be careful talking to yourself when working out and listening to music. My favourite phrase of encouragement as I approach the halfway point of my 5k marathon - 'Come on you motherf***er - has a tendency to echo through the room. Turn the music down.
8) Music is very important. Download your children's playlists. That way you will be able to efficiently drown out the utter bilge played on the gym speakers with the utter bilge that they listen to.
9) Nothing you do will make you look so old as stretching. You will be stiff, unwieldly, in pain and drenched in sweat so try to find a space where no one can see you - preferably in the spinning/yoga room in between classes. There is nothing so humiliating as being unable to lie down and lift your leg so that it is straight and more than a 12 degree angle from the floor.
10) Do not shower at the gym. Everyone's biceps and penises will be bigger than yours.