I used to live opposite a modern muscle gym in in South London, and the gym opposed me. It was one of those garish looking things, which at squint looked like something from a hellish sci-fi film where emasculated white collar workers are forced to manually operate an enormous Perspex monster.

‘Let ME varnish the bench!”

Let me reiterate, this wasn’t a normal gym where people go to get into shape, feel good about themselves, take the occasional zumba class, and make twenty one-hour-friendships. It was a muscle gym without a treadmill in sight. I’d normally walk awkwardly past the narcissistic bastards, and we’d live and let live in the gorgeous knowledge that each one of us was wasting our lives. On this particular occasion though, I started thinking not of waste, but of energy, the kinetic kind to be more specific.

As you might have gathered, I’m not exactly sold on the whole ‘getting hench’ phenomenon; not least because it’s a life sentence of sorts. Once you get to that kind of size it takes a lifetime of work to prevent your steroid ravaged pecs from looking like out-turned stingy wizards sleeves.

As I made my way to work resolving to get into better shape, I started to lament the neglected and forlorn appearance of my neighborhood. Rotten fences, crumbling walls, overgrown thickets, lack of disability ramps, and teenagers with receding hairlines. I’d spent a few summers working in construction, so I knew just how much manpower was needed for such a remedy. Normally I feel quite inspired by crumbling buildings in the sense that they’re holding on despite the odds, but looking around I just felt depressed.

When I returned home that evening I was met by the familiar territorial glare of sweating men under strip lighting, when I had an idea. These men could sort out the neighborhood. From the German executive cars clogging up the pavement I could see that most of them were probably officer workers who wanted builders physiques. So why not set them to work? Instead of paying the extortionate gym fees, these guys could donate this money to the local council and in return, they would be provided with tools and materials, something like Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.

Working out is a means to getting your end away, so why not work out whilst volunteering. As the old saying goes: There’s nothing sexier than a volunteer with muscles. If you want to be seen in your local community, why not been seen as a good guy who’s giving up his time to help people, rather than a shallow bastard who works out in front of a window.

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