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OPENER / ANDREW TUCK

You can work it out

Now I know this is an issue that divides the world but, in our household, along with the vigorous brushing of teeth and the selecting of socks, the early-morning routine involves stepping on the bathroom scales. My partner is a little technology-obsessed and so not only do you see some very aggressive figures flashing in your sleepy face at 06.00, you also know that this damn machine is then sending the infernal number to an app on your other half’s phone, where it will be logged on a graph that shows your weight across the months and years.It’s the sort of information that he shares with glee when the app reveals him descending the graph like a jolly goat on an alpine path with a sunny meadow just coming in to view. He’s even happier to share it when your own chart could be mistaken for the inflation rate of some faltering nation or, just as bad, when you become marooned on some high plateau with seemingly no chance of escape. Anyway, he’s just got a part in a TV series and they have very good catering trucks.I know this because in the morning I can now detect the signs of some potential girth gained without even setting eyes on the flashing digital display, or indeed him. First, I hear the scales being repositioned to different parts of the bathroom floor just in case the reading can be enticed a modicum lower. Then there’s the sound of glasses being removed, then boxers. On bad days there follows a few seconds of silence, followed by some comment along the lines of, “Well, that seems very unfair to me. It was only a doughnut.” I have learned to stay schtum at this juncture, although I will admit that I have on occasion encouraged the dog to burst into a fine rendition of “The Only Way is Up”. On such mornings we have been told in no uncertain terms that we are not helping matters.But, of course, this technology is a very low entry point into the growing world of home fitness. There’s a battle being waged between the brands aiming to become the go-to for working out without leaving the house. The most brutal tussle is among the providers of exercise bikes (“Come on brands! You can do this!”). It’s here that the likes of Peloton are following the Uber business model of spending big to take the market and seemingly not worrying about the profits yet (last year Peloton generated €660m of sales – and made a loss of €180m). Technogym has also entered the fray with its new bike and there are plenty more pedalling like crazy (“Say ‘woo hoo’ if you think this is the best business move ever!”).Of course, for some people, that €2,000 bike will turn into a stunning clothes rack but home exercise is leaping ahead like a star jump nonetheless. Numerous fitness apps also encourage us to treat our homes as workout studios (hopefully minus the sweaty neighbours). But there’s another interesting element in all of this: the luxury gym-wear market delivers product that is designed to flatter you in public. Will a shift to solo home exercise force a change to pure comfort over a certain athletic sexiness? Where is the brand that’s got home exercise on its product-development agenda? Technology shifts have a habit of undoing whole sectors of the luxury industry – the ability to pay with our phones has mostly scuppered the market for large and expensive wallets and purses – so you can be sure that new home sportswear lines will come.Tall order A useful evening class would be: “How to order in a restaurant”. I would pay to attend – even leave a tip. It was my colleague Josh’s birthday this week and we took him to a bao-bun joint near our office. I think it took me less effort to complete my tax return than I expended trying to work out the complexities of requesting a modest Taiwanese meal in this otherwise very nice establishment. For every diner there was a pile of paperwork to wade through, charting special deals, very special deals and just deals. We were provided with pencils to complete our demanding forms (“Which flight did you arrive on? Have you ever been refused entry to our restaurant? Are you carrying more than $10,000 in cash – we hope so.”) When form-filling advice was requested, even the staff seemed flummoxed.And then last weekend we went for dinner with a group of friends to a Japanese restaurant where the menu was longer and more complex than a Murakami novel. There were numerous unique signature dishes and ingredients whose names I had never seen before. We asked the waiter how best to navigate the glut of choices. And we did as we were told: we ordered the chef’s special selection and focused on the wine instead.

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