My daily retirement routine starts with a trip to my local gym. It’s a 20 minute walk each way and then about 40 minutes cardio or weights in the gym. The remainder of the time is social, chatting with the other – mainly men – who arrive at a similar time to me, not too late for the pre-work early risers but too early for the morning coffee brigade.
We’re the retirement inbetweeners group and as my working life slowly withers away, this informal daily gathering in the changing room, around the pool or in the sauna is becoming an increasingly important part of my life.
It gives me the social interaction I just wouldn’t have otherwise now I spend most of the rest of the day at home. So what do Middle England men – in the 50s to their 70s talk about in and outside the locker room when they’re at the gym. It’s essentially six topics:
Work – the dozen or so men I talk to enjoy various patterns of work from full-time employment to 100% retired. In between you’ve got those working a few hours a day at either flexible or fixed times to those working a fairly unsocial shift pattern including weekends. Interestingly all seem happy enough with their work-life balance with perhaps just one or two wanting to totally give up work. Those working a few hours a day including myself seem happiest.
Politics – there’s a great deal of consensus politically with most supporting traditionally right-wing views though with none prepared to say they are Tory. All strongly disliked Corbyn with none willing to vote for him at the recent election. This year there’s been less talk about politics and more comment on how the woke world’s gone crazy.
Health – everything from the gym-related pulls and strains, to colds and viruses right the way through to more serious health issues related to high blood pressure and cancers predominantly affecting men, particularly prostate.
Sport – ours is a mainly weekday gathering so whatever sport is on at the time gets referenced which is usually cricket. The previous night’s or weekend’s football also gets talked about along with darts and snooker with sports some view as non-manly such as tennis rarely getting a look-in. The Six Nations rugby will form a big part of the conversation from when it starts on February 1st
Travel – getting away is very important to a retired man. Much of the group spend parts of the winter in Portugal, Spain or Greece. Others holiday frequently with talk dominated by where we’re going to next or where we’ve just been.
Where we are – finally the goings on at the gym get us chatting, this usually revolves around what’s not working such as the various machines in the gym or the sauna which seems out of action very frequently! There’s also the behaviour of others such as the ‘walkietalkie ladies’ who walk slowly up and down the pool for about 40 minutes hogging most of it. We try not to moan but can’t help it!
I know this is hardly a representative sample and clearly going to be focused around the interests of the men involved but to those many women who wonder what men talk about here’s an answer. There’s also a bit of friendly banter but none of what a certain Donald Trump talks about when he’s in the locker room.