In the sixth of a multi part series Joe C narrates his experience of arrest and time served in Portlaoise Prison where he evolved into an anarchist.
Five, sometimes six days a week I would use the gym for an hour a day. I did different training programs, changing program every couple of months. I mostly did a mix of weightlifting and cardio. For cardio I mainly did jogging on the treadmill, usually for about 3 or 4 miles. Sometimes I wouldn't do any weights for a few months and would only do jogging. The longest I jogged was 12 miles, but I know of 2 prisoners that ran marathons on them. One INLA prisoner ran a marathon on a treadmill for charity. All the prisoners in E-Block, and all the teachers, donated money to the prisoner. And the money raised went towards Autism Ireland.
Most prisoners in the block would go to the gym. Each landing had their own gym, the equipment in each gym was basic, some free weights, benches, boxing bag, treadmill, cross trainer, bike, and some old weight machines.
It's good to have a gym routine. A person will get enjoyment reaching their goals in the gym. Whether that is to jog or cycle a certain amount of miles or whether it's to be able to bench press a certain amount of weight. It gives people a sense of satisfaction.
When working out it unleashes endorphins from your brain which make you feel good and give you a buzz. It's the same as when a person takes drugs, the drugs will activate endorphins in the brain. If a person is having a bad day, it's good to go to the gym and work through it. It will help a person get rid any aggression in their body from being in a bad mood.
Some people enjoy it so much they will go to the gym twice a day. Every few months I would do training twice a day. For the first session I would do weights and for the second session I would jog, sometimes I would do other types of cardio like skipping with a rope or boxing the punching bag. For a few months I got mad into skipping, I was able to do it for 30 mins non stop, but another prisoner, one of the guys that jogged marathons on the treadmill, was able to do it for 2 hours non-stop.
The same fella was a boxer. For the first year I was in jail a few of the prisoners in E-block would do boxing in the hall that was attached to E1. These boxing sessions were held twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. As prisoners got released, numbers fell in the boxing sessions. Eventually everyone that had been attending got released.
Another form of exercise is walking in the yard. It is good to go outside for a walk regularly throughout the week. It can be very easy to get stuck in a routine where you don't go outside. There were many times throughout my sentence when I didn't go outside for weeks on end. It’s very easy to change from one routine to another without even realizing it.
The idea of walking up and down the yard or walking in circles can seem monotonous. But it can be a social experience also, when out in the yard there can be people from other landings walking in the yard. You might only see some people when you are out in the yard. This can give a you a chance to talk to someone you don't usually talk to.