Once again I've fallen off the exercise band wagon. It was the holiday that did it — yes, the holiday way back in late November when I went to Australia and then on a cruise.

On my return I was way too busy catching up with work and then it was Christmas and then it was the New Year and now — well now it's March.

Every week that went by I felt more and more guilty as money went out of my bank account and I didn't go into the gym.

I have been walking lots but because I really like my food walking just doesn't seem to cut it these days.

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Tighter clothes tell the truth of the story.

One day last week I was talking to a colleague about my saga and she said, "Come to the gym with us" - she and a friend go at 6am most days.

I didn't commit — but finally last Tuesday morning I got up early and went to a 6am ride class (cycling). It only goes for half an hour thank goodness, I don't think I could have managed much more.

Then I joined my colleague and her friend, whom I also know. So the "friend" knows a bit about exercises and how to use the machines at the gym.

First she put huge weights on the end of a bar and we were to do rows and things.
I've done these exercises before but there's no way I could lift that weight. I did them with just the bar. We did a range of exercises all designed to "strengthen the upper body". I had to change weights on everything. But I did it. Felt great.

I was a bit "groany" at work that day every time I stood up but all in all I was feeling fine and proud of myself for finally doing something.

Next morning I was at the gym just after 6am. Ten-minute warm-up on the bikes or treadmill was called for. Then it was time to work on legs.

Again I couldn't do the weights they did but I did all the exercises. "Friend" had us squatting, lunging and more squatting. Then we went on this machine where you basically lie down and push the weight away with your legs.

On and on it went. While one of us was on the machine the other two had to do pulsing squats. I was thinking to myself during the procedure "this is going to hurt tomorrow, maybe I should stop". But I never listen to myself — I wish I had.

Three times each we went through this and then finally it was over. "Right," said "friend", "that's the last 15."

My big mouth did its usual — "15," I laughed, "I've only been doing 12 reps each time."

"Friend" looked at me out of the corner of her eye and said, "Well you better get back on and do another 12 to make up for it." They laughed. I did not.

We finished with planks and then it was over and off I went home, again feeling rather proud of myself but with this little nagging voice in my head saying, "you are going to be sorry".

By the end of the day I knew I was going to be in big trouble the next day.

And boy oh boy, was I ever. I could barely walk. Going from sitting to standing was painful — basically I winced every time I moved. The following day was no better but I made myself go for a walk because I thought it might help. It didn't.

When will I ever learn? Needless to say I haven't been back to the gym since.

I will eventually make my way back — if only for my arms' sake — because according to my 5-year-old grandson my upper arms "have a lot of blood in them".

However if I see "friend" I might just look the other way or run for my life.

■Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today.