We enter a spacious brightly lit gym surrounded with wall-to-wall windows looking out onto the green. A mirrored far wall reflects back the chrome equipment so that we can see ourselves working out.

 I joined this gym recently, given that I’m in my forties, I’m feeling the need to stay lean and trim. Most of this equipment is new to me. My favourite weight machine tones my upper arms. The rowing machine leaves me underwhelmed and I find simple sit-ups give me a tougher work out as they isolate each muscle.

 It feels good to put my work down and come here. I enjoy working within my own limits, staying relatively toned and building up some cardiovascular stamina to burn some extra calories.

 I’ve decided to bring my daughter today to help her get rid of the mental stress brought on by her looming GCSE’s. As we arrive the music is playing loudly, just how I like it and we step onto the treadmill. I walk at an upbeat pace, pressing the uphill button to give my thigh muscles an extra workout as I’m used to walking along the sloping streets of St Albans.

 A middle-aged woman wearing a pink vest and black leggings steps onto the treadmill next to me and has a little glance over; I get the feeling that she wants to show me how she can race faster beside me. As I’m naturally not a competitive person, I keep to my own pace and smile to myself, wondering why I didn’t bring a Blue Peter badge with me to reward her as she works up a sweat!

 Then it’s off to the “Testosterone zone” where I show my daughter the dumb bells. Here you can see mainly men puffing and breaking out into a sweat; as they endure the weights with pained expressions on their faces testing their limits. I demonstrate three methods of using the dumb bells, and she repeats the action with ease.

 I go to the far corner and reach for the red boxing gloves and smile sweetly. I hand them to her and go and call the personal trainer. He shows my daughter some boxing combinations and the punch bag takes several hits. I step back as she works alongside him for about ten minutes, before she is left to her own devices. I watch with delight as she jabs and crosses, releasing her pent up stress induced by her teachers expecting no less than A’s from her in June.

 We end the session with a few Pilates postures and slowly feel our bodies cooling down. I look up at her as she lets out some deep breaths, at this moment in time her GCSE’s are far from her mind and I feel that I have achieved my goal.