So how do astronauts keep fit? Not something that keeps me awake at night, I’ll admit, but I’m quite partial to the odd sci-fi book, and the latest one I’m reading has posed a few questions. Humans have lived on the Earth during the whole of our evolution, and during all that time we’ve been subjected to the planet’s gravitational forces. Over the past fifty years or so though, some of us have managed to drag ourselves free of the planet’s cloying atmosphere, and that’s where the head-scratching started.

We’ve all seen astronauts (and cosmonauts) floating around in the International Space Station. Older readers will remember them floating around in the back of the space shuttle. To make the obvious point, the reason for this is that there’s a massive reduction in gravity once we (OK, so we’re all astronauts now) leave the Earth’s atmosphere. With this reduction of gravity, we humans experience a real problem to our physiques. This includes bone and muscle loss, and the only real way to counteract this is to carry out several hours of activities each day.

It’s relatively easy to keep fit on Earth. We just have to get off our backsides and do something. It’s even simpler than that for us to keep our bone and muscle loss to a minimum by simply moving against and standing in gravity. Without gravity, bones lose mineral density and muscles will whither. Our bodies are simply not designed for space – and why would they be? Astronauts need to combat this with constant exercise. According to Bob Tweedy, the countermeasures systems instructor at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, astronauts on the Space Station need to put in two and a half hours’ effort each day, six days a week. I imagine there aren’t masses of things to do up there beyond their work, but even so, if it isn’t fun, it isn’t easy to accomplish.

The Space Station’s gym comprises three machines designed to give us gravity-lubbers a full-body workout; a bicycle, a treadmill, and a weightlifting machine, or Advanced Resistive Exercise Device to give it it’s technical name. All three machines are specifically designed for space, as normal gym equipment would be useless in microgravity. The act of lifting a weight, for example, isn’t feasible in space since weight is a purely gravitational concept. The ARED machine counteracts this by using vacuum resistance, a little like hydraulics. In order to run in microgravity, the astronauts are strapped into the treadmill with harness and bungee cords to prevent them from floating away. Astronauts grip the bicycle’s handles and sit up against a back pad so that they can further strengthen their legs. There’s no seat because there’s no need to sit down if you’re floating by default! It must all take some getting used to though, don’t you think?

So how about or own little terranauts? Out little terrors! Our children. How much exercise do they need? Running out of the door every night after school and weekends will give them plenty of opportunity to get enough exercise – unless they sit around nattering all the time they’re out that is! Kids who sit at home on Xbox or Playstation are a different matter. Their habits are probably closer to an astronaut’s just by way of the sedentary nature of their passtime, if not by the technology their applying. These children need more, and that’s where the Elite Kids Coaching camps come in. We give them a complete workout. It’s great fun too, so they don’t even realise they’re getting the exercise that they need. In the summer we’ve included Fortnite soaker activities to our camps, so they can even play their favourite Xbox game in real life, and all that without any danger of being knocked out of the round!! There are swimming activities at some of the camps. Obviously these are restricted to venues that have a pool (not a pond), and I’m afraid we don’t supply the spacesuit that you can see in the picture above. I’m not sure health and safety rules would allow us to let your kids bring their own either, so best leave yours in your wardrobe at home, OK? The latest addition to our activity list is Zorb football. If you know what that is, I’m sure you’ll be signing up before you finish reading this article. If you don’t know what that is, well, I suppose you’d better sign up as quick as you can. Places are going fast!