Secrets of the stairwell

Posted on October 27, 2011


A few weeks ago I did a mammoth stair climbing session at the Grand Millennium Al Wahda.  I returned to our room feeling on top of the world and Emily immediately remarked on my sheer level of exhilaration after climbing 150 floors. My reply involved my pointing out that the particular stair well in question is one of my favourites around and that not all wells are created equally!

So … for all you other closet stair climbers out there …

I am currently spending at least one hour a day in stair wells so picking the right building can mean the difference between a soul-destroying hum-drum session and a spirit lifting, uber-energising, secret smile-inducing one.

My observations on the whole ‘well’ choice boil down to these:

  • The higher the better.  Of course, it you are counting by storey, it doesn’t really matter but the longer the ‘intervals’ between going up and going down, the better
  • Pick a building that has well-lit stairwells.  Some are so brightly-lit that you get a mind-numbing headache before long. Others are so dingy that you risk the onslaught of SAD
  • Always use a building with two sets of stairwells (most do) and interchange between each so that you alter your inside knee when turning corners
  • Pick a stairwell whose lights don’t switch off on a timer.  It’s no fun being half way up a storey then having to soldier on in pitch black whilst playing touch and feel with cold concrete
  • Choose a stairwell whose doors are opened with enough frequency to get some cooler air circulating.  Some get as hot as an oven and make you overheat so much that you feel drained for the rest of the day
  • Find a building with some buzzing goings on to keep you entertained.  My current choice gives me occasional greetings with guys going from floor to floor trying to sell cheap stationary … and the odd dude choosing to tuck into their lunchtime curry on a random step.  Meeting and greeting creates excitement when stair-climbing!
  • Next.  Choose a building where litter is kept to a minimum.  Some, despite being in plush commercial or residential blocks, are awash with ciggie butts, old newspapers, empty bottles … perhaps a good idea to start collecting all and giving my buns an extra little push with all that bending over?
  • Make your building of choice one where there’s a treat in store at the end! I am climbing in the twin towers at the moment so I reward myself at the end with a Costa for that all-necessary post-stairwell caffeine fix and a little trip up to Fitness First DMC … in fact, twice this week I’ve followed with strength sessions with the lovely Mark, PT extraordinaire … definitely incentive to get the buns burning and the tummy tightening if ever there was one …

Finally, a note re all the cleaners you see in said stairwells.  I have yet to come across one who doesn’t greet me with a huge smile and a gesture, admittedly, of my being slightly insane.  They work tirelessly in dark and dingy surrounds day in day out for a pittance. This morning I found my usual guy sleeping on a laid-out cardboard box.  No justice.  I left AED 100 in his shoe as a little surprise.  I hope it gave him a spring in his step today …

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