Daily routines # 1: the gym

HMS Protector heads southwards on the Antarctic Peninsula

17th January 2013

I wouldn’t say we’d become institutionalised quite yet (though Ash does sit in the same seat for EVERY meal!), but we’ve certainly formed a number of daily routines.  These give our days structure and meaning.  It’s not like we’re short of work to do, with plenty of journal papers to read and write amongst many other things.  But there is something strange about day to day life taking place within the confines of the ship that seems to demand some degree of order, especially whilst so much beautiful scenery passes by outside.  Ash is a useful chap to have around at these times; while my wanderlust looks at some mountain peak or ridge and dreams of being out there climbing and interacting with it, he quickly brings me down to earth with a more realistic assessment based on raw experience; the rock would be flaky, the ice and snow uncompacted and difficult to move through, it would be too dangerous.

 But I digress.  Two days into the voyage, after gaining our sea legs, the first thing we (Matt more willingly than Jessica) instigated was a daily gym session at 10 am, when the ship’s company are hard at work and we get it pretty much to ourselves (except for the occasional Marine somewhat showing us up!)  The gym is right down in the bowels of the ship, where there is less rocking and rolling movement.  It’s well equipped, with a couple of treadmills and rowing machines, a cycling machine, cross trainer and all the weights you could wish for.  As someone who is used to doing a fair amount of exercise and who will start to feel mentally and physical yucky after too much sedentary time, these sessions have become very important to me.  I set myself daily targets, for example how far I can row in 10 minutes (2601 metres is my best so far!), and working hard to improve provides my body with that satisfied feeling of post-exercise tiredness and keeps my mind refreshed and able to focus on more taxing scientific issues (the real reason we are here after all!)  I’m also developing an excellent ability to keep running and balanced while the treadmill sways subtly from side to side.  To be fair though, most days we’ve been so far have been pretty calm conditions.  There’s a sign on the wall saying that the gym equipment is not to be used in sea state 5, but the sign is upside down.  It’s one of my favourite jokes that it’s probably been put up that way on purpose – should we actually be in sea state 5, it would probably be the right way up!

Having said all this, I am writing this at 10.30 am, as we have our first rest day, preparing for another trip ashore this afternoon.  Still to come … news from another landfall, plus daily routines #2 (meal times) and # 3 (science). Please keep your eyes peeled for future blogs and check out our project website (geography.exeter.ac.uk/antarctica) for more information and context about exactly why we are sailing about theAntarctic Peninsula on HMS Protector.  If you are enjoying the blog, please spread the word and let others know about it!

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