Daily Archives: October 16, 2015

On the hilarity of the adult exercise class… an insider’s perspective

So it’s Friday, so that means my dance exercise class has come around again.  Is it just me, or is there not something hilarious and side-splittingly funny about the whole adult exercise class concept and execution?  Random individuals gathering in sports halls and studios across the land, fighting age and gravity in pursuit of raised cardio activity and tauter toned physiques.  Surely a manifestation of the bottomless (if misguided) optimism that occasionally seizes us all in our struggle to keep (or get) fit.

This particular class is held in a small studio with full length mirrors, which is part of a wider sporting complex.  I arrive, shuffling in self-consciously at the back, having already met a couple of other class-goers in the loos.  We are variously complaining of both ailments (bit run down, tired, you know how it is) and digestive challenges (why is cheese so hard to process now I’m older/ I shouldn’t have eaten so close to exercise).  Personally I am suffering on both counts.  My leg still feels strangely numb post yesterday’s run out, and in addition, that lentil and quinoa soup I had earlier (no, I really did, I am a very healthy eater, it’s just I have never really grasped the concept of portion control and I tend to eat other stuff on top, oh well, we all have to have our weaknesses, lack of will power is just one of  mine) has led me potentially to windy city… not a promising start to the class.

It was quite nice to be back though, our fitness instructor is as always smiling hugely and welcoming.  I don’t know how she does this, she is a whirlwind of energy and smiles.  Has she found a human version of catnip?  Is it genetic?

I found myself sort of hugging a wall and trying to disappear into it.  It is so weird, that childlike thing that all of us in this particular class seem to do, not wanting to be at the front.  We seek to make ourselves invisible – perhaps because we are self conscious about both our athleticism (not enough)  and our bodies (too much).  I am certainly, and it seems  probable my fellow groupies feel likewise, so we lurked around the edges, even though this is  clearly ridiculous.  You can’t hide in a studio box, especially one with mirrors on one side, windows on another and with such tiny dimensions that even we ten or so attendees constitute a crowd.  I chatted to one woman who I’ve noticed has come a few times too.  She was debating whether or not to wear trainers for the class – there is quite a lot of toe pointing.  I told her I have to, on account of the arthritis in my feet.  I just came out with it and then felt ancient and decrepit at my confession.  I can’t risk going up on my toes in bare feet because I feel the bones in my feet disintegrating as I do.  I wondered if I’d over-shared, so to break the tension I just told her that I was OK with recognising that my dancing career probably wasn’t going to take off at this point (due to age not talent, obviously), but I was happy to just focus on my running  instead.  We both laughed.  In fact we bonded, she told me by way of exchange of her own running catastrophe earlier in the week.  She went out for a run, long enough to be knackered and feel quite smug,  and then on return to her car she realised to her absolute horror, that she’d dropped her keys somewhere on the route.  She had to do the whole thing again.  To make matters even worse, when she did spot them, they were in the hands of another runner who’d thoughtfully picked them up.  This meant she had to do another sprint to catch up with him.  He was a really good runner.  I felt her pain.


So we embarked on our flailing around, trying to stand and balance on one leg, gyrate our hips, and follow the uncertain rhythms of the rather abstract music which was ‘modern’ and discordant, and don’t even know what word to use to describe it’s genre. The instructor executed each move with poise and vim, the rest of us stumbled about in her wake.  At one point looking at our collective reflection in the mirror I would swear not one of us was facing the same way or doing the same move. Imagine a group of kids of all shapes and sizes in say pre-school, (at an age when they haven’t fully learned to either follow instructions or co-ordinate limbs properly) trying to work out a routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and you might get some idea of the image reflecting back at us   Inevitably there were one or two amongst  the group with some innate ability and flair, but they weren’t enough to distract from the endemic ineptitude that surrounded them.   It was hilarious.  I don’t mind at all being so rubbish, but I am amazed that our instructor doesn’t find it more dispiriting.  The main thing though is to keep mobile, and have fun, I can at least do that.

It is only a 45 minute class, but I was exhausted by the end of it.  My leg didn’t feel particularly worse at the end of it, and I was glad I went,  Another class down.  I wonder if I will ever get any more supple or balanced over time, but regrettably, the only way to find out is to stick with it.  Watch this space….

Categories: fitness class, motivation | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Slow on the uptake as well as slow on the feet

Thursday night came round again yesterday.  That means club run night, yay(ish)!

smiley paces group photo

You’d think by now I’d have worked out that the clue is in the name.  Hope over experience means I keep turning up, but somehow I’m always a bit surprised when after the initial ‘hellos’ and social catch up, we are required to actually start running.  Hence the slow on the uptake heading.  I really shouldn’t be so affronted week after week at the expectation that we are all going to have to pick up the pace a bit, dark, cold, wet or otherwise….

I had my usual inner battle as I peered through the skylight in my attic flat looking into the gloom.  It was spitting a bit, and looked really, really dark.  However, even though I don’t ever really look forward to going out for a run I never regret going afterwards.

I’d love to know if others have my inner struggle with motivation.  Is it just me, or do we all collude with each other in presenting a united front of cheery enthusiasm for heading out into the night.  If I look on the club Facebook page on a Thursday it is full of protestations from people apparently genuinely gutted at being unable to run due to reasons various including:  injury (that’s bad); having to go out with friends and family for some sort of mandatory communal celebration; (tough call, which is least worse/better – go for a run or attend tense family gathering?) babysitting (poor excuse, I thought that was the point of calpol/ gin and or sullen teenagers); being stuck at work.  Occasionally, there is a genius apology for non-attendance, my recent favourite was along the lines of, ‘I can’t make it tonight I’ve got some Christmas cakes in the oven and I can’t leave the house ’til they’re done’.  I was soooooooo tempted to add  comment ‘I can’t come tonight, I’m binge eating a bag of donuts and watching Great British Bake Off on BBC iPlayer’.  I don’t quite have the nerve.  Bet if I did though, there’d be a few surreptitious likes!

Alongside all the apologies, are cheery ‘I’m in, yay!’ typed comments.  I’m always guilty of stalking these.  I like to try and see if there will any other slowbie runners to keep me company at the back.  I don’t mind being last, I really don’t, but I do mind being so slow I hold others up.  It gives me flashbacks to situational angst at being crap at sport at school, last picked for teams in ‘games’ (what a misnomer is that) and that general sense of public humiliation that I’ve never managed to rid myself of since.

I do go.  The assembly point last night was in a park car park.  Millhouses actually, if you care.  It is really, really dark,  Were it not for the flashes of reflective gear it would have felt utterly deserted.  I was among the first to gather.  It felt a bit sinister, standing around waiting, unable to make out each others faces. It was like we were preparing for some hostage exchange or something.  People continued to gather, there was a fossicking for clip-boards, signing up for groups and catching up on injuries etc.  I bumped into people from last week’s fell race, the endure dash and people who are planning next weekend 10 km, the TenTenTen.  It amazes me that I have somehow infiltrated the running community from such an unpromising place, but it is comforting that I am getting to know a few people, and hopefully they will recognise me too.  This means they are less likely to run past if they see me lying face down in a bog somewhere whilst mid-course at a race event somewhere.  Who knows, they may even attempt to retrieve me, or at least notify the race marshals at some stage on the route.  Actually, on reflection, that isn’t altogether true.  As I’m invariably behind them, they probably wouldn’t ever see me, unless it was a two loop course I suppose, then they’d lap me eventually, oh well, the thought was comforting whilst it lasted.

So after a bit of faffing, we split into four groups, and I took the register again for the Foundation group, not too bad this time as only five of us, that’s only the fingers on one hand, so not too scarily responsible a task for me to take on in the way of counting.  This time, there were even clip boards, brandishing that AND wearing a hi viz reflective jacket there is no task I could not have undertaken with confidence.

This time, it was a pace run, so straight out and straight back.  The speediest group headed off first, followed by the second speediest 10 seconds or later and so on. This meant each group stayed together without overlapping, making it easier to keep a track of everyone.  It is quite clever really, and a great testament to the fabulous Smiley leaders who week after week rise to the practical and logistical challenge of getting us all out and back safely.  The plan was basically head out and then at 7.35 p.m. turn around and run back again.  The road was pretty dark and I was glad of head torch.  In our group people chatted companionably about injuries.  I find this quite comical, not that people are hurt, that’s horrid, but how we all give each other advice that we wouldn’t follow for ourselves.  Our leader is a case in point.  She has had an injury for some months now, and pain seems to be constant, but she shows no sign of either resting or getting any physio help in relation to it.  Another runner has badly sprained her ankle a few weeks back.  She states it hurts pretty much all the time, but she feels after resting it for a while that is inevitable when she gets back mobile again – muscles have wasted a bit after all.  This may well be true.  She also says that sometimes when she runs she doesn’t notice the pain so much anyway.  Our leader comments with concern.  ‘You have to be so careful with that, the endorphins that kick in when you run can disguise the pain and then you can really cause harm!’  Pots and kettles methinks, pots and kettles.  I’m just saying.

Half an hour running continuously was more than enough for me.  I was quite relieved when our outward time was up and we could turn around and head back.  I was tiring by then, and one of my legs started to really hurt.  It feels a bit of twanged to be honest.  I’m a little concerned, because it is the same leg and the same pain that I got when I skidded rather spectacularly on a ‘recovery run’ (I know, the irony isn’t lost on me, bloody recovery runs, terrible idea…) and pulled all my hamstring and couldn’t walk for a fortnight.  I really, really hope it isn’t a reappearance of that.  Maybe I should have rested my legs a bit more after all that off-roading over the weekend. Eeek.  Too embarrassed to pull up, I just slowed at the back, we were nearly home anyway.

The planning worked really well, we were fist home, and then the other groups in reverse order.  It was quite fun watching them come in, the little head lamps bobbing up and down, it looked like a shift of miners emerging from a pit hilarious.  A few minutes later, people ticked off the registers, thanks and goodbyes exchanged and everyone scattered off into the dark of the night once again.  It was as if we’d never been there.  Weird, and spooky even.  Home now home then to watch Hunted (final episode, much excitement) and enjoy the feeling of smugness that only a run can bring….

… and also not to enjoy the growing sense of numbness that was moving through my leg.  Ignore or not to ignore?  Ignore I think, then maybe it will just go away, I’m pretty confident that is what all the more experienced runners do, and they must know what they are doing by now, surely?

set goals and demolish

Categories: motivation, running, running clubs | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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