Patrick Leigh-Pemberton: On the Catwalk of Fife

Pat Pat discusses the fashion mishaps of St Andrews’ gym bunnies.

It may or may not be obvious to my more committed readers, or indeed one of you may have noticed and the other might have let it slip, but exercise as a hobby is sort of a closed book to me. This is not to say that I do not exercise, it is just to say that when I do, the exercise is incidental to something else that I happen to be doing at that point, such as dancing, or going on a walk.

In fact, those are probably the only two examples. Let’s concentrate on the second one. Walking. Now, I like going on a walk. There are a thousand and one reasons why I like a walk, and I am sure that you have heard many of them being spouted by people on the news responding to the public health scare of our age, but the most significant reason why I like going on a walk is that it is the only form of exercise that requires little-to-no wardrobe change.

In fact, it always requires no wardrobe change. You can walk anywhere you like in this town wearing the clothes that you would normally wear to the library and it wouldn’t be a problem, at all. No one thinks you odd if you carry on walking in your normal daytime clothes. And yet, there seems to be a growing contingent amongst us who feel that walking, when exercise, requires a hugely different aesthetic to everyday life. This aesthetic includes training leggings of incredible tightness, and because you aren’t jogging, a nice warm coat on top. It is absolutely bloody mental. You are just walking. It really isn’t that hard to do it in jeans, and yet it is apparently necessary in the modern age to spend an absurd amount of money on a pair of specialist exercising leggings in order to allow your legs do what they were designed to do.

I really don’t want to call these people stupid, because I am sure that they have thought about it long and hard, but it seems to me the only reason that one could have for wearing these leggings on a walk is so that people know that you aren’t taking a walk because it is nice (which it is), but rather because you are doing some incredibly difficult exercise (which it isn’t)… which would seem to suggest that you worry about what people might think of you if they saw you exercising… which seems to me to be a bit silly, because when they see you wearing that, and you are walking, they are going to start wondering why in fact you aren’t jogging, which is what you appear to be dressed for.

Wearing clothes like this for a walk doesn’t make people think “Oh wow, what an impressive exerciser that person must be”, it makes them think “that’s a bloody lazy jogger”. Save money on the exercise gear and have a nice walk, maybe with a friend. It is nice. And nobody thinks you are a prat because of it.