I've paid more than £6,000 over 10 years for my gym membership and barely attended - I call it the tax on fitness guilt

Guilt tax
Guilt tax

I’ve finally made the decision to give up my gym membership after the realisation that I have been paying for the thing for 10 years - an entire decade of my life.

Using a rough calculation, this was a cost of approximately £6,000.

This is probably about £200 a class on my reckoning - my determination to attend was far stronger than the reality.

It has been a decade in which my various incarnations of gym kit have been winging their way merrily in the boot of my car, like a talisman to magically make me fit into those jeans from my slimmer phase - while rarely seeing the inside of the actual gym.

Unlikely, as the kit is usually accompanied by shopping bags containing my food-frenemies including large bags of salt ‘n’ vinegar crisps, custard tarts and huge packets of pasta to be cooked without careful weighing and portion-sizing.

It’s not that I no longer care about fitness, it’s just I’ve realised if I don’t even attend the lovely spa, I’m probably not going to get on the cross-trainer either.

I’m not giving up on fitness though.

As I get older, I have become more, not less, conscious of those extra pounds creeping on for health reasons - not just the size of pants you have to buy.

But weight and issues around it are still influences for my friends in their 30s, 40s, and beyond.

That cultural conditioning of being overweight, the pressure to look good, to lose a few pounds and the impact on confidence is endemic in our generation.

Insecurity is by no means the exclusive realm of teenage girls, that is simply for most of us when it starts.

Now in my 40s, I still spend far too much time worrying how I look, while lacking the determination to make any radical changes.

But my guilt has cost me a fortune.

With the advent of new and cruel ways to promote inadequacy - Instagram being one - the narrative around weight and size is changing and new role models are creeping into view.

Youngsters do not just idolise stick-thin Kate Moss-types like we did.

Fitness is now practically a cult and Insta-pressure is at its highest, so the fitness industry is booming - but the mirror doesn’t lie and, as a nation, we are fatter than ever - and poorer.

Something’s not right.