Spin classes won’t help China cut the fat

Profile piece on new indoor bike riding experience called Scenic Cycle that has opened. It’s a bit like a cross between a spin class and an Imax theatre, as bike riders are led on a class that via the projection of virtual scenery appears to traverse some of the world’s most scenic roads and majestic climbs. Photography Brendan Espositosmh,13th June,2014DQoNCg0KU2VudCBmcm9tIG15IGlQYWQphoto.JPG Photo: Brendan EspositoOne of the biggest battles during my life has been keeping my weight down and I think regular readers know that I once ballooned out to 150 kilograms. And being no taller than Napoleon, that was really stupid.
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So eight years ago I had stomach banding surgery and shed 60 kilograms. Nevertheless, keeping fit remains a constant battle and my method is to head out to the park at 6am with Dawn the trainer. I know that it seems ridiculous to have someone help with simple exercises like walking but in my case it works, and I’ve already lived five years longer than I was supposed to with all that weight on.

Perhaps I should have just joined a gym like the increasing number of federal bureaucrats who, according to figures released this week, are racking up an annual bill of $12 million for gym memberships and weight-loss programs at taxpayers’ expense.

The 20,000 plus ATO employees are claiming almost $6 million a year and they are still not quick enough to catch their rightful share of cash flowing out of the country from many of the multinationals.

They should do what most of us do and use the park, although the trendy ones are now heading to the super-duper gyms where you can get fit in all sorts of new ways.

Mara, Louise’s niece, is addicted to spin classes. These spin classes are expensive stationary bike rides and you can spend $100 a week on riding up and down digitally induced hills.

But the costs don’t end there. You’ve got to have the latest active gear and matching water bottle. I’m told that lemon Lycra with orange stripes is the go.

One of Louise’s other nieces, Holly, has just signed up for F45 training – a new cult, not colt, that is apparently “guaranteed to leave you breathless”.

The other cousin, Greg, is into traditional weightlifting but the fact is that all of this family pay their own way, unlike the federal public servants who increasingly use the term ” fit for purpose” to describe their bureaucratic capacities for “deliverables”.

As Charlie says, “if I knew I was going to live this long, I would have kept in better shape”.

Well the truth is that we are all going to have to pay more out of our own pockets for our health.

World Bank figures show public spending on health growing from 4.8 per cent of GDP in 1995 to 6.3 per cent in 2014. The United States grew from 13.1 per cent to 17.1 per cent over that period and Britain 6.7 per cent to 9.1 per cent. Health is the second biggest item in the federal budget after social security and welfare, at 15.9 per cent in 2016-17, and there is no doubt it will increase further as the population ages. We can’t afford it!

The government is now well into the run-up for the federal budget and I hope that we have the fittest people in the country on the job.

Our Treasurer is also fond of talking about government initiatives being “fit for purpose” but the bigger question is whether the budget itself is fit for the times we find ourselves in.

We need to lose a bit of weight as a country if we are going to have a healthy future. We must stop eating up more wealth than we can generate.

It’s that simple. We’re a bit like a family where the kids have been getting too much pocket money. It didn’t happen to me when I was young. My pocket money came from collecting bottles for their deposits and selling used newspapers to the fish and chip shop.

I know some will say Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey tried cost reduction and failed miserably. But things will only get worse for the country if we put off hard decisions again while our pollies and senior bureaucrats keep getting fitter themselves in the subsidised gym at Parliament House.

And on the other side of the ledger, we need to massively boost our earned income from overseas trade.

I reckon it should now be obvious that the two most important people in the Parliament are Health Minster Greg Hunt, who is turning into a real star, and the Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, who has picked up where Andrew Robb left off and is working the international scene very effectively.

Let’s see what our $12 million investment in a super-fit Canberra leadership comes up with in the next month or so. If they don’t get this budget fit for the purpose of growing the economy they will miss the opportunity of a decade. The first budget in the three-year term is the only chance you get to put popularity behind doing the right thing.

Less spin ??? more weightlifting.

We will be watching.