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You be the judge: ‘Can I ask my tenant to stop working out on the front porch?’ | Friendship

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The prosecution: Felix

My lodger works out on our front porch, but it’s on a well-lit road and draws a lot of attention

It started during the second lockdown, last autumn, when Fabio moved in to my four-bedroom flat. I’ve known him since we were 11, so when the lease ran out at his place, we agreed that he would move in with me.

Fabio loves working out on the front porch of our house. His workouts last about an hour and consist of strength exercises with a kettlebell: swings, squats, lifts, presses. We live on a main road where there’s lots of traffic, people shopping and quite a few drug addicts around at night, so I think it looks rather strange.

He has always been into fitness, whereas I only took up running for the first time recently. I’m quite self-conscious and care what people think, but Fabio is the opposite. He tells me he usually gets smiles or funny looks when he’s exercising. He thinks I’m jealous of his confidence but, really, I just don’t want to draw unwanted attention to our flat.

When the gyms were closed, but the days were longer, Fabio would work out in our private garden at 5pm each day. But when winter came and it got dark earlier, he insisted on exercising on the front step, where there’s street lighting. I think he could have stayed in the garden and just done his exercising earlier in the day.

The flat below mine is on the same level as the porch, so our neighbours come home and see this guy thrusting away right outside their dining-room window. They are nice, but I can’t help feeling secondhand embarrassment whenever I watch Fabio.

After spending the first lockdown living alone, I was very happy to have him around as he is chilled and level-headed. But sharing the flat with him has also taught me that we are more different than I thought – he is definitely much more of an exhibitionist than I am.

We’re both still working from home and sometimes Fabio works out in the garden when he hasn’t had time to go to the gym. But I am dreading the darker nights, when he’ll move back to the front step. Can I ask him to stop exercising there?

The defence: Fabio

I love swinging my kettlebells out there after dark: it’s a way to break up our time together

Felix would never allow me to work out inside his house. It’s an old Victorian building and my workouts are quite vigorous – I’m swinging a 24kg kettlebell around in a high-intensity workout, so I could easily punch a hole through the wall.

The natural answer is to exercise on the nice bit of concrete outside the house while I’m still working from home. Yes, it’s by the street, but who is bothered?

These lockdowns have changed our relationship with going outside. We’ve been so restricted that exercising outside our homes makes sense. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Perhaps I love the attention. When I moved in, I thought the world would be opening up and I’d be spending less time with Felix, but each evening it was just us.

We became like an old married couple, arguing about what to watch on the telly. Exercise was a way to break up our life together.

I missed dating and flirting – a cheeky bit of eye contact at the gym. I relished the occasional glance from a stranger in the street as it made my life a bit more interesting. I also got to keep fit – kettlebells are great for your legs and butt.

I started off exercising in the back garden last summer, but by autumn it was darker much earlier so I couldn’t continue. There’s great light on the front step, so I will continue to exercise there on days I’m working from home or can’t be bothered to go to the gym. It saves commuting time and I’ve got used to it.

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Thank you for your feedback.

I know Felix disapproves. Sometimes I’d be doing a workout and he’d come back from a run and we’d chat outside the flat – he seemed fine with it then. But I’ve known him for 20 years and he hides his emotions very well. He hates confrontation.

Now gyms are open, but I’m working from home until next year. There are days I won’t fancy going to the gym in winter, and so I’ll be back out at the front, swinging and squatting. What’s the problem?

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Fabio stop working out on the porch?

Felix, you seem blind to your good fortune. Living on a main road, you need security, and fit Fabio in your porch gives you that. A guard dog demands food and exercise, while Fabio can look after himself. He even pays rent!
Michael, 68

I am sympathetic to Felix’s secondhand embarrassment, but Fabio’s solution is environment-friendly and cost-effective. Lockdown has shown that there are many ways to maintain personal fitness outside of the gym.
Nicola, 28

How about we shed a little light on the problem – or, better still, on the back garden – and leave Fabio and his oversized kettlebell out there?
Tony, 66

Classically British behaviour – let’s hide our bodies for fear of embarrassment! But doesn’t a Fabio on the porch make life more interesting for local residents? If it’s not hurting anyone, why the heck not?
Katy, 28

Living with students this year, I’ve learned that you have to accept other people’s habits – so I agree with Fabio. Felix could ask him to stop nicely, but if Fabio says no, then Felix must respect that.
Genevieve, 20

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: should Felix stop exercising on the front porch?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.

The poll closes on Thursday 14 October at 9am BST

Last week’s result

We asked if Curtis should tidy his room, as it bothers his mother, and landlady, Grace.

56% of you said no – Curtis is not guilty
44% of you said yes – Curtis is guilty

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The Groucho

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