Sunday, December 17, 2006

Clever Housing.

I live in a large block of flats. I say 'large' its about 20 floors (I think). Its a fairly new development, by Barratt homes I think...I'm making an inference from their having offices on the ground level and Barratt flags flying in our car park. The fact that we have a "concierge" is what sold me on it - three years at Oxford and you have to like the idea of telling friends "oh yah, daaahhhling, just ask the concierge for me," even just a little bit.

But there is a really clever aspect to the design of the whole building, besides the concierge. The ground floor also boast, for residents only, a small gym, steam room and sauna. I have just spent the past half hour in the gym - I wouldhave spent longer, but one of the running machines istemporarily broken and there was a huge queue for the only operating one. Still, that needn't be too much of a problem, since having a gym in my building has encouraged me to build in 45mins-1 hour per morning down there keeping fit, as well the occasional longer weekend sesh.

Now, I don't know about my readers, but I used to be very active, playing football well enough to go pro (til I realised us lowly women don't get paid, and thus explaining my distate for the overhyping of a certain ex-England "star" who is really not that talented), playing tennis for the women's section of my club at the age of 14 and at city level, and swimming (again in a club). But then something happened. Two things, really. Playing guitar and going to university. Both induced a lifestyle which consisted of alcohol, not exercising (unless you count arm movement along certain phallically shaped objects) and smoking.

Suffice it to say that, while not overweight, I am certainly now out of shpe. And all previous motivation, nay, delight for all things sporting has drained away. Or at least, it had. But then I moved to this wonderful new complex.

In fact, the "workout willingness" has reached the extent that when, recently, two friends mentioned that they were planning to do a 10K run in March, instead of responding with disdain or pointing out that there was no way in which they could ever obtain my involvement in such a hideous jaunt, I said "oh, 10K doesn't sound too bad.....I'm already doing several K each morning in the gym, so I'm sure with some work I could manage it." And so it was that I became complicit in this March-scheduled running endeavour.

But living in such a well-planned building does force me to feel (even more strongly than I did before) that people's lives could be dramatically improved if more thought went into the simple things (!) like house/flat design. Going back to the Atlee and following Tory governments, yes the Tories did outbuild Labour in the 1940's-1950's, but they also built smaller homes, and you can quite easily tell the difference in the quality of housing built under each party nowadays. I don't want this to turn into a partisan rant too much, because either party can fail to consider quality as much as they prize quantity, but I do think it important to socialism/social democracy/whichever lefty creed most suits you, that we ensure that ideas like the one impleented in my block of flats are integral to all possible projects.

Forget putting "obese warnings" on clothes, or trying to introduce a "fat tax" (just search the Number 10 petitions site, if you don't believe the latter) - just make sure new developments have exercise opportunities built into them. Part of my rent is due to there being a gym downstairs, and knowing its just a 5 mins walk away and that I'm paying for it enttices me into using it. It also means that I can use it during quiet times, should I not want to be embarrassed (believe me, I made sure my first gym trip was when I was the only one in there, just in case I had to give up after 5 minutes, lol).

In other, yet related news, having claimed to eat moderately healthily, a friend tipped me off to this which informs you about how healthy your diet actually is. I'm going to try it for one week, just to find out. I may be persuaded to let you know the outcome.

And that's my Toynbee-esque post of the day done. Now, lets see her take the healthy food test. ;-)

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Blogger mightyeye said...

I think you made a very useful contribution to housing issues here. I just wish my rather smaller block of flats had the facilities yours has. I hope you can forward these points to someone who can develop the idea.

12/17/2006 7:39 PM  
Blogger el tom said...

"unless you count arm movement along certain phallically shaped objects"

Goodbye innocence, goodbye.

12/18/2006 12:20 AM  
Anonymous David Floyd said...

"The fact that we have a "concierge" is what sold me on it - three years at Oxford and you have to like the idea of telling friends "oh yah, daaahhhling, just ask the concierge for me," even just a little bit."

I didn't know what a concierge was until I joined the young fabians.

I don't think we want to encourage gyms, though. Exercise is the route of all evil.

12/18/2006 5:19 PM  

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