Being queasy on the high seas just south of Chile made sleep difficult. If the sailors and rowers can do it, it must not be all that difficult, I thought.

I staggered into the ‘Trim Raum’ fitted out with all sorts of whiz-bang machines and equipment set up to keep me healthy on the expedition south.

Rowing’s easy, right? Normally yes, but let’s take a moment to set the scene.

Firstly add a 1.5 metre swell, a few whitecaps, birds whirling overhead, snowcapped mountains in the distance and rain on the windows. I had the choice, I could have grabbed weights, ridden a bike perhaps — but no. Rowing.

Great on the still moment between breakers. A crash on the bow indicated the ship would ride high, then tip into the next trough.

So let’s start a workout for the abs as well. Thrown sharply to the left, I was suddenly looking at the underside of the bird that was alongside the boat. The rowing machine went forwards and back — until it was on a decent swell.

Curling my toes into the footstraps, first left, then right, my upper body oscillated wildly from perilously close to the wall to being suspended in the centre of the room.

As I pondered how to stop, continue, give up or change exercises, it became clear that there was no risk management plan describing my predicament on the wall of the Trim Raum, and a few more strokes should have seen me into the next trough.

A new sensation began, as the ship’s motion changed. With the rowing machine’s name ‘Concept II’ inscribed into the skin on my forehead, I noted the forward motion was faster, steeper and totally unexpected. Unable to do anything that resembled the ‘Prescribed Exercise’ for this machine, it took a great deal of force to return the wretched thing to a position where I was seated and drag my frame in the rhythmic motion the instructions insisted should be occurring.

Riding the waves provided a momentary gap which became my freedom. I snapped my feet out of the locks and grasped the stretching rail on the wall in a lather of sweat.

So my next task will be to build a machine that will provide the total workout just completed.

There is not a muscle in my body that did not participate, according to the pain in every one and in every joint.

QSAM Team Sydney

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