Given it’s nearly nine in the evening and I’m still stuck at work, it’s going to be beans for tea (syn-free) and away to bed when I get home. So, in the absence of a recipe, I’ve done an article on what it is like to be a man attending a slimming world group in the hope that it encourages any men straddling the fence to give it a go. Thoughts welcome – I admittedly dashed it off in haste so I may yet revise it!
Attending a slimming class as a man can be quite daunting, but go along with the mindset that you’re another ‘member’ as opposed to anything different and you’ll have a gas.
I attended my first class at the tender age of 16, despondent at the realisation that I had a more impressive rack than most of my female schoolfriends, and never looked back. My own idea of a class back then was that it would be full of people I couldn’t relate to blaming their star weeks and crying into a rusk. Well, I’ve only been to one class where that’s come up. Wakefield. I had a woman whose breath smelt like something had died in there three years previous tell me that ‘appen ah’ve put on a pound but that’s because ah’m on t’blob‘, before she dissolved into fits of nicotine-lacquered giggles, concreting my homosexuality an extra 2%. It’s not always such a classy affair, mind.
I’m not going to lie, it is very female-focused, with the class being made-up predominately of women (at least in all the classes I’ve attended over the years) and most of the Slimming World promotional literature consisting of carefully posed pastel photos of female models rollerblading and gaily laughing with one another like a tampon advert from the Eighties. But your gender is irrelevant – everyone is genuinely welcomed and taken into the group. There’s no ‘us and them’ gender divide, with the men cowering on one side of the church hall looking at their cankles and the ladies sitting on the other side cackling and wiggling their little fingers up and down. Everyone is encouraged to chat for a bit whilst people get weighed, but then its fingers-on-lips and eyes forward as the consultant does their schtick, so if you’re a little shy, don’t worry. You can get away with looking at your phone or twiddling your thumbs or even hiding in the bogs for 10 minutes (just tell people you’re losing a pound or two and watch them roll on the floor with unbridled laughter) if you’re feeling particularly antisocial.
There is another hidden bonus to being male in a female-dominated slimming class – men seem to lose weight a little easier than ladies (thanks to those swinging lockers of gloopy testosterone), meaning you can adorn your slimming diary with ‘Slimmer of the Week’ stickers until the cows come home and you mince them into syn-free burgers. Slimmer of the Week normally gets a basket made up of fruit that each member has hastily bought from the Londis next door before class, meaning a gorgeous gallimaufry of on-the-turn bananas, packets of Aldi rice and limp peaches could be yours every single week.
The Slimming World magazine is a bit of a bust, though, no pun intended. Catering strongly for their female readership, it’s full of coy articles about menstruation, make-up and the menopause, with a token story about a man who has lost loads of weight posing in a pair of Topman cords and a lumberjack shirt filling in a couple of pages. They’re always annoyingly twee too – losing weight because they don’t want to gasp and wheeze pushing their kids on the swings, or wanting to fit onto a rollercoaster – how I’d love to read an article where a man said that he didn’t want to have to be put on an oxygen feed after lovemaking, or he’d killed eight one-night-stands through accidental bingowing based suffocation. Joking aside, the magazine isn’t compulsory and the internet is awash with the recipes you often find in there.
What it all boils down to is the simple fact that everyone is there for the same reason – to lose weight. You could be pernickety and argue that some people go to maintain their weight, but do shut up. I’m a naturally sarcastic writer and I may not have completely conveyed how welcoming the groups actually are, but take me at my word – you’ll be made to feel like a friend in no time at all. Regardless of whether you’re the only man in the room full of women, you’ll find support, ideas, tips and motivation that really will help you along with your weight loss. If you still feel unsure, just go along to a class and have a go – worst that can happen is that you’ll lose £10 and come away with some recipes and minor tinnitus.
Plus, normally, if you’re the only man, you’ll get a proper fuss made out of you and you’ll be a shoo-in for the ‘Man of the Year’ award in class. Which is nice.
I’m happy to answer any questions, of course…