Who can be bothered to exercise on holiday? Not the British, it seems
People of Britain, it’s time to stand up and be counted!
Or, possibly, lie back on that nice comfy sun lounger and be counted. Because according to revelations from – checks notes – a hotel loyalty programme punting a new app, UK holidaymakers are the world’s laziest.
A new survey by Marriott shows that only 53 per cent of Britons exercise while on hols. And for those of you who spluttered your mid-morning margarita all over your poolside daybed at the word ‘only’, it’s worth bearing in mind what ‘the competition’ are up to.
Sixty-six per cent of Germans are now laying their towels down on the hotel’s exercise bike every morning instead of the loungers; 73 per cent of Italians are manning the crosstrainer, or at least draping themselves elegantly around it in perfectly-tailored leisurewear and impractical sunglasses; and 78 per cent of the French – yes you read that right, soixante-dix-blooming-huit – are claiming they “proactively work out while on holiday”. (Although that, surely, is because they consider ‘going outside for a Gauloises and shrugging their shoulders while complaining about things’ as exercise.)
It would be reassuring if we could write this off as typical Euro-ostentation, the corporeal equivalent of all those showy Rococo churches. That way, we Brits could rebrand as not ‘the laziest’, but merely ‘the least vain’. At the top of the holiday fitness leaderboard, however, are travellers from the famously un-flaunty UAE – a staggering 92 per cent of whom are working on their abs whilst away.
If it’s not vanity then, what is it that compels people to exercise when they could… relax-ercise? Of the Britons who do keep fit on location, the majority said they do it “to look after their mental health” (have they not heard of books?).
Meanwhile, 18 per cent said they “feel guilty” if they don’t hit the hotel gym – though, given how few of us make it past the spa and into the actual sweaty bit, it seems as if guilt may well be soluble in sangria. Then, of course, there are the 22 per cent who work out while away “as it allows them to spend time alone and prioritise their self-care”. Which is as much as to say: “I go to the gym to sit and do my nails and avoid my blimp of a boyfriend/husband/soon-to-be-ex for a happy hour or two.”
How do we know it’s women avoiding men and not the other way round? Just take a stroll round your resort’s workout room – ask a French person to show you the way – and look. Mathematicians may quibble, but when the stats say 53 per cent of Britons are exercising, to us that suggests one half of every couple is at it – and her other half is putting in around 3 per cent effort, roughly equivalent to going to the bar for a packet of crisps.
The sexes are united, at least, in one thing. One of the chief demotivators for our in-resort exercise regime is, apparently, the fear of a fitness faux-pas, with 72 per cent of UK tourists claiming to have experienced one. Sadly, just when things might have got a bit juicy, the survey-pixies failed to ask what exactly a “faux-pas” entailed, but we’ve got a pretty good idea: for Madame, perhaps, the mortifying mis-flirt of giggling a little too loud at the instructor’s joke. For Monsieur, actually expiring on the treadmill because you were too embarrassed to ask how you make it slow down.
No surprise, then, that “cardio workouts” comes fifth on the list of “top exercises Brits would like to do on holiday but feel they can’t” (yes, the survey asked about that too, possibly because the hotel loyalty programme, Marriott Bonvoy, is offering members a free app featuring all sorts of fitness programmes). But the revealing detail is what’s at number one in that list: yoga.
Yes, yoga – the exercise activity that requires no fitness, or equipment, or special clothing, or space, or even, if we’re being honest, any actual exercise or activity. The one where you can essentially lie on the floor and breeeeeathe, and say you’ve done it.
If even yoga is on the list of “Top exercises Brits would like to do on holiday but feel they can’t…”, maybe we need to add “…be arsed” to the end of that clause.
Perhaps, after all the pseudo-science of the survey, the truth is what we already knew: that Britons are just a bit too lazy – and a bit too sensible – to want to spend their precious holidays in a gym. And we should, in fact, be proud of that, and defiant in the face of the fitness fascists who would assail the inviolable idleness of our holidays.
Long live laziness! Vive l’indolence! We shall, as Churchill almost certainly would have put it, fight them on the beach chairs!