Dressed up to the nines with a Fitbit, the latest Nike trainers and streamlined wireless headphones, Shaun is easy to spot: he treats the local park like his own Olympic track, weaving between dog walkers, shouting expletives at anyone who dares get in his way. Clad in more lycra than a Kardashian, Shaun has more fitness apps than friends and will not hesitate to stretch out his tight groin muscles right next to you on the bench as you eat your sandwich. The only thing he hates more than slow walkers? The nouveau jogger, who took up running during lockdown and is made to regret it when Shaun pushes him (accidentally on purpose) into the nearest bike lane.
Alice will happily tell anyone who will listen that she’ll never set foot in a gym again. Why would she, now that her Pilates classes and Zumba sessions are all online, for a fraction of the price? Even her kids are disciples of Joe Wicks, their eyes glued to the TV as if it were set to Peppa Pig on loop. Three times a week, Alice plays ‘motivational’ playlists at top-volume as she flails on her yoga mat, an Amazon buy that has more than paid for itself in endorphins. Downstairs, her neighbours are seriously considering filing a noise complaint.
Up at the crack of dawn to head to his local ponds in only goggles and a Speedo, Frank is a hardy beast, undeterred by autumn weather or the threat of hypothermia. The ducks have grown used to his thrashing presence invading their peace at 6am every morning. Frank has a dedicated Instagram page where he evangelises about the physical and mental health benefits of cold water; his friends have all unfollowed him, but he still holds out hope for a sponsorship deal with a wetsuit company. Those who bother to listen will know that he has spent lockdown training to swim the Channel – an ambition Frank has held (and droned on about) for the last decade.
At first, Tina really did want to get fit: she booked her first park session in March with the hope of seeing defined abs in time for her summer holiday to Majorca. Little did she expect the local gym to send her Kevin, the Casanova of cardio, whose squat thrust technique is the most exciting thing she’s witnessed since Normal People. Tina’s holiday might have been cancelled (three times) but she has upped her classes with Kevin to three times a week. Just when things look like they might be getting serious – Kevin has complemented her on her glute gains twice – Tina makes the fatal error of striking up a conversation about something other than body fat percentage, telling her gym god she’s started an artisan coffee business. Horrified, Kevin blocks her on social media and never trains with her again: does she know how bad caffeine is for his regime?
Determined to use lockdown as a chance to finally shift those pounds from last year’s many stag nights, Rory has gone all out with hand weights, a rowing machine, a treadmill and a Theragun for the inevitable screaming muscles. He is almost solely responsible for Amazon’s dumbbell shortage and the spare room, once designated to become a home office, now resembles an outpost of David Lloyd. Needless to say, Rory has yet to unwrap a single item, including the protein powder currently festering in his kitchen cupboard. Since pubs reopened in the summer, his ‘before’ picture – taped to the wall above the treadmill, now gathering dust – is starting to look like an aspirational goal.
Frequently mistaken for an actual employee of Lululemon, Sadie is always in transit, in her camo-print leggings and artfully latticed bralet, shiny hair pulled up in a sleek ponytail. Dressed almost exclusively in activewear, she considers walking to Starbucks to pick up a pumpkin spice latte strenuous exercise. Earlier this year, she claimed to participate in the 5k challenge, but her proud selfie showed no evidence of sweat whatsoever. All that gets Sadie’s heartrate up these days is a Sweaty Betty sale.