2.30am: Wake Up
First on the agenda is praying which, for an atheist, proved difficult. So instead I decided to concentrate all my efforts on I think what my deity for the day, Mark Wahlberg, would think of me following his path to enlightenment via his gruelling daily routine, starting with an early hour wake up call to eat bran flakes and do some squats in my jammies. According to my brain, in a thick Boston drawl, he’d get very close to my face and whisper: "Hey, Pascale, I think you look wicked haaaht in those slippers, but you and this routine - what's up with that? Anyway, say hi to your mother for me…"
In my personal opinion, there is no good time to go to the gym, but it really does hit peak awfulness at 3.40am. My normal gym routine goes a little something like this: I change into my gear at work, I get the bus to the gym, I walk through the doors, I lie to myself that I've forgotten something that is crucial to my workout (like hair grips), and then I go home and dip cheese in sour cream whilst watching The Mentalist. Even I think that is a bad routine, but somehow this is worse.
Niko Algeri , Director and Co-founder of Equilibrium, tells me that while this is a beneficial way to work out (“You’re hitting different body parts and training different systems – the ‘gains’ would be noticeable in just two weeks”), your circadian rhythm would be all out of whack. “Your body is intricately in tune with daily cycles of light and darkness, right down to your muscles. So when it’s night-time, your muscles are inherently deactivating to allow sleep. At 3.40am there is just no way that you perform the best of your ability.” And I have to say I concur: It’s only been 25 minutes since I chugged down a bowl of bran flakes while lying horizontal on the sofa, and as a stitch settles into my ribcage, it feels like the powers that be (Mark Wahlberg and this YouTube fitness guru) are punishing me for bunking off so many times before.
It’s only 7.30 in the morning and it’s already become apparent that Mark Wahlberg has an major issue with time management. An hour-and-a-half for a shower, but only 30 minutes for a golf session? What kind of maths is that? Now I don't play golf, and I’m pretty sure that Swingers doesn’t open until midday, so instead I find one of my partner’s awful Rory McIlroy golfing games and insert it into the PlayStation 4 – something that is not easy after you’ve been stood under running water for 90 minutes and your fingers look and feel like a box of Sunmaid raisins stacked vicariously on top of one another. Regardless, I am very bad at it and it takes the whole half hour to figure out how the game works.
9.30am: Cryo Chamber
There is no way that my pathetic excuse for a workout this morning warrants a go in the cryo chamber, but if Marky Mark does it, then Pascaley-Cal gotta do it too. I, however, am not au fait with the cryo life, and after having a mild panic attack about whether I go out in a bikini, or just stroll into the chamber in my nethers. WWWD – What Would Wahlberg Do? Probably brave it in the nuds, right? So I march out there in my robe, fully aware of the fact that underneath it I am wearing only a tiny pair of pants, socks and gloves.
London Cryo’s chamber is a large, monolithic structure that literally looks like something straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It spouts plumes of ominous-looking fog and stands far taller than I am. The inside is covered in frost. Am I’m in there in my pants, legs feeling strange and spinning around with my arms in the air like a lunatic. Maria, who owns the company, tells me that the reason why Mark – and other gym nuts – use a cryo chamber is to help repair sore muscles and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Cryotherapy tricks the body into a ‘fight or flight mode’ by exposing it to temperatures of up to -135°C, triggering the release of epinephrine, endorphins and anti-inflammatory proteins. The body is not actually in hypothermia, but the brain is convinced that it is and narrows the blood cells, reducing swelling and inflammation. Oxygen-enriched blood then rushes to the core, increasing metabolism and energy, improving circulation and speeding up recovery – all in the space of three minutes.
3pm: Pick Up The Kids
Up until this point, the rest of my day has mostly consisted of eating snacks, working, and eating more snacks. I never thought I’d say this, but I am snacked out. I am now one-third flesh and bone, two-thirds Snack a Jack. According to a 2008 study by Harvard biologist Christoph Randler, early risers are far more productive, and I kind of get it – it’s entirely possible that I’m delirious, but I’ve actually got quite a lot done today. Even my pace at work seems to have sped up a little.
At 3pm, Mark goes and picks up his kids from school. Luckily, I don’t have any children, because right now I have been awake for over twelve hours and could not handle all that exuberant energy in my face. So I spend some of this time googling Mark Wahlberg to see how I can be more Wahlbergian. But then I realise that I'm actually at work - and I have to do it for more than three hours a day – so I get back to the work that is piling up metaphorically on my desk.
The rest of the day has been a real struggle. Workout number two was hard, even though workout number one was truly pathetic. Plus, I keep getting stitches from all the snacking. By the time it comes to spending dinner time with my boyfriend I’m a snappy, stitchy, achy mess who can’t handle it when there’s no ketchup left to slather on her dinner. By the time 7.30pm rolls around, my bed is calling. The problem is, it's still light outside. I can hear my boyfriend watching the Great British Menu and I'm jealous. And no matter how many calming podcasts I listen to, I can't get to sleep. So I get up and join my partner on the sofa, and pray to Wahlberg that I’ll feel back to normal tomorrow.
While Mark Wahlberg obviously has a reason why he gets up so damn early, after trying it, it still makes little sense to me. His time management is all out of whack. Why spend so long in the shower and so little on a game of golf? There are, of course, health benefits of a long, hot shower, but that just seems like bad planning to me.
Then there is the privilege. As Niko says, training twice a day is a luxury. Mark doesn’t have to do a normal 9-5. But it works both ways – you don’t need to be able to bench 150kgs to sit at a desk and write all day. As Niko says, for a regular Joe like me, it’s just not sustainable to maintain this lifestyle. I don’t have time to rest and recover from two workouts a day, and I don’t have the time to eat as efficiently.
So no, I won’t be keeping up these early mornings or the fervent snacking. And working out twice a day is just not – and will never be – in my wheelhouse. And if I could give one piece of advice to Mark? Try a lie in every once in a while.