Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents 102 scoop WINTER 2010
Being a bloke can be a serious
business. There are prostate checks,
dinners with the in-laws, politics at
work, politics at home, lawnmowers
to maintain and don t forget the
thousand and one forms of torture the deprivation
that most people call exercise.
But a growing number of men are fighting back
and finding ways to keep fit while actually having
fun. Men who have come to the conclusion that
being a depressive gym-bunny isn t all it s cracked
up to be -- even if you do have abs that could take
someone s eye out.
Instead of treadmills, lifting heavy things and
scoffing protein shakes that taste like dried eggs
blended with sun-affected chocolate, they have
turned to an old-fashioned form of exercise.
It s called play.
Not play in the sporting sense either; play
in the make-believe-and-laugh-a-lot sense. You
may remember it. It s that thing that we used
to do that kept us scrawny and happy, until that
sad day when we decided that girls preferred
"grown-ups". Which turned out to be wrong for
the right women and right for the wrong ones.
And the biggest difference between play and
exercise isn t how much you sweat but rather that
only one of them has the two secret ingredients of
feeling good -- laughter and fantasy.
One convert is Steve Osborne, of Kelmscott. By
day, Steve is an IT support consultant with a small
Perth software company. In his spare time he is a
medieval warrior. At least twice a week he dons his
armour, grabs a sword and fights other blokes, much
like many of us did as kids, only he has cooler toys.
"There are not a lot of places where you can
go along and pick a fight with a bloke, pick up a
sword, try to beat hell out of each other, and come
out of it grinning your head off and saying, Top
fight, mate. Thanks very much ," he says.
"We have doctors, lawyers, tradesmen -- every-
body really -- doing it. I think that we are probably
all touched with a bit of Peter Pan, but it really
is just so much fun."
Steve is a member of three such medieval
groups in Perth, including the superbly named
Society for Creative Anachronism (Australia). He
is also treasurer of the WA Medieval Alliance, a
body that supports the many medieval groups
dotted around the suburbs of Perth and their
combined membership of nearly 600.
At 58 years old, has been an avid sword-fighter
for eight years now, and declares that it s the only
form of exercise he has ever come across that didn t
bore him senseless. "With this you can start off
with a Viking sword and then move into other styles
of weapon," he says.
"There are short swords, rapiers and some people
enjoy dagger work. Other people branch out and
start using spears, pole weapons, staffs -- pretty
much anything that you think was a weapon in
the medieval or renaissance days, someone around
Perth is fighting with it."
Steve says all the clubs place great emphasis on
safety. All weapons are regularly maintained to
ensure they stay blunt, fighters are trained before
combat and injuries are
All the same, wielding
medieval weapons may
not be for everybody.
Others prefer to indulge
their desire for play by
driving go-karts at speeds they only dreamt of
when they were kids with hill trolleys.
There are four bitumen kart-racing tracks to
choose from within driving distance of Perth
(Belmont, Wanneroo, Cockburn and Wundowie),
as well as numerous dirt tracks catering to the
thousands of men, women and children who enjoy
the fun of motor sports without the enormous
price tag. Some of the tracks are devoted to serious
competition, while others are set up to handle the
Ric Purvis, managing director of Kart World
Belmont, says the majority of his clients are men
in the 18-35 age group who want nothing more
than to take a moment outside the restraints of
their normal lives.
"Life is such a juggling act and it can be really
hard to justify time to do anything for yourself,"
Ric explains. "But with kart-racing, guys can
get out of the house for a couple of hours and
when they strap on that helmet there is nothing
else in their head.
"They re not wondering what to get the wife for
her birthday, it s just them having fun."
Going through life as a tough Aussie bloke can become
stressful, which is why Griffin Longley set out to discover
some fun-filled, youthful ways to relax and get fit -- that
don't involve sweating in a gym.
PLAY, BOY: Let o steam by
burning rubber (above), or by
getting out and meeting new
and interesting people. And
shooting them (left).
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