Fitter, happier, more productive

Picky Nicky pines after pushy personal trainers, holistic holidays and lusty lungs


Keeping sane, fit and healthy has never felt so important. The global news media has been bombarding us daily with data on disease and death for more than a year now. That has led many to take stock of their priorities and place a higher value on optimising health.

I am a maniac when it comes to preventive medicine, which is why, once a year for the past 15, I have spent ten days or so at the Viva Mayr clinic in Austria getting a part-cleanse and check-up with regenerati­ve rest. I check out with a boosted immune system, helpful for fighting viruses. If I had the time (and funds), I would check in every six months rather than 12.

I think I may have an unnatural attraction to specialist­s, possibly since I am the one who pays and am therefore the centre of attention. I could happily fill my days with visits to osteopaths, physios, acupunctur­ists, podiatrist­s and the like. I must crave praise for doing well at tests – during my stay at the Matteo Thun-designed Waldhotel Bürgenstoc­k, above Lake Lucerne, I see all manner of specialist­s in their state-ofthe-art diagnostic centre, which includes spiroergom­etry, echocardio­graphy and a DEXA body compositio­n scan, and I enjoy leaving knowing what’s working and what can be improved.

For obsessives like me, the Ultimate membership package at London’s Lanserhof at the Arts Club is quite tempting. Pre-covid, I thought the cost was inordinate, but now it seems better value for money. For £18,000 a year, you get six doctor appointmen­ts, an MRI scan, 12 physiother­apy appointmen­ts, up to 50 vitamin infusions, two spine or movement lab analysis sessions, and six 3D body scans (perfect if you are vain), plus unlimited personal training sessions, cryotherap­y, beauty treatments and studio classes.

If I really allowed my maniacal tendencies loose, I would hire someone to keep an eye on what I consume, tut if I overdo the lactose, ensure I run my 5k four times a week, double up as a personal trainer and boss me into using the foam roller or Theragun once a day to counteract desk time and phone use. Ideally, they would also be connected to a clinic to keep all the stats up to date.

Fantasy aside, one thing that anyone can do to make a huge difference to their health is read (or listen to) James Nestor’s Breath: The New Science of a Lost

Art, which discusses how losing our ability to breathe well has led to a variety of health issues, including snoring, sleep apnoea, autoimmune diseases, asthma and even allergies. It’s the shallow mouth breathing that needs replacing with much more beneficial nose breathing. I taught myself to change to the latter when running, and it was really tough for the first couple of months. But who wouldn’t want stronger, healthier lungs if you could have them? Especially now. Yours for less than 20 pounds/euro/dollars.

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