Brrrr, really unappealing outside today, the clocks have changed, and it’s been foggy all day. By evening, I was less than enthusiastic about venturing out in the dank and dark to work on improving my fitness at the squash club. Unfortunately, my naturally conscientious streak kicked in, I’d already texted our pathologically positive fitness instructor (you know who you are) to say I would be going, and so therefore go I would have to, and it being Tuesday, it would be a hard core destination – abs and core work, the joy of anticipation that engulfed me is too hard to express ….
The car park was pitch dark when I arrived. I’d sort of forgotten that it would be – that’s the difference it makes with the clocks having changed. The last couple of weeks when I’ve parked up it’s been just dusk, and if you pick the right spot to park overlooking the rugby pitches, you get this extraordinary spectacle of starlings swarming – apparently, it’s called a murmuration of starlings by the way, what a brilliant word – I challenge you to drop that into conversation casually in the next week. They carry out this amazing airborne acrobatic choreography at dusk, it is a marvel to observe. I haven’t really seen it so clearly before, and although the flock isn’t as huge as they can be in some places, it’s still pretty impressive, so I like to get there a bit ahead of my class to watch that happening.
I also see other things in the gloaming Last week I was quite spooked. There were a couple of looming shapes on the grass that looked for all the world like dumped bodies with tarpaulin draped over them – to be fair, they may well have been exactly that, I didn’t bother venturing out of the car to go and give them a prod with my toe or anything. They say it’s best to hide things in plain sight, so on reflection seems reasonable to say that’s definitely what they were. I don’t know if they were still here this week, because it was so dark. Last week someone was also exercising a dog out there, ostensibly doing some sort of recall training, but I have a suspicion he did a massive dump in the middle of the pitch (the dog not the owner) whilst he was about it, not realising he was observed. Oh well, Rugby players probably like that kind of thing if their reputation for preferred partying antics is anything to go by.
Anyway, I digress, I ended up parked up a bit early, so I thought I’d sit in my car listening to the radio for a bit rather than go in too soon and stand about awkwardly in reception waiting for the class to start. After a couple of minutes I got the fright of my life. A passer by knocked on my car window. He was smartly suited complete with tie and matching handkerchief in his breast coat pocket, a real gentleman’s outfit. He’d seen me slumped over the driving wheel, head in my hands, and wanted to check I was OK. I thought that was quite public spirited and genuine of him actually, even though if that got my heart rate more elevated than any of the subsequent excursion. I decided waiting in the car wasn’t the greatest of my ideas, and headed to the gym.
It was quite jolly, because I found another regular, who I recognised, had just gone in ahead of me. The studio was so completely black it was like entering a darkroom. We shrieked with nervous laughter, trying to find the light switch without dislodging walls of weights and balance balls onto the floor (though actually, that would have been quite fun too). After a bit, the lights now on, it dawned on us that we were the only two of the normally heaving class who’d turned up (half term week?). Our nervousness was heightened as our upbeat instructor bounced in Tigger like, seeing the opportunity potential for a more focused and vigorous session than usual, this week there would be no hiding place. Her optimism is boundless, hope over experience for her, every time, there is no position we cannot adopt, no move we will not attempt, no routine we cannot do. Can we do it? Yes we can!!
I don’t look like this by the way, I’ve got more of a moustache for a start.
In fact, the session was hilarious, hard work, but good fun. We did some of the usual stuff with the steps (I’m always a bit hesitant about these, because someone I once worked with broke her ankle really badly falling off a step in a step-aerobics class – no really), then she came up with ideas for new exercises and routines in response to requests. My exercise partner wanted to use the free weight bars. I don’t know what their proper name is. But they look like the sort of cane a tap dancer would use, except when you pick them up they have the effect on me that kryptonite has on Superman. They are just insanely heavy for their size. We had to do a load of exercises with them which ought to have been really simple, but actually seemed impossible. One was just lying on your back with your feet on the floor, knees bent, and then you’d have your arms up above your head on the floor stretched out behind you holding the bar, and you had to do a kind of crunch/sit up thing keeping the bar raised above your head. I honestly felt like my hands and arms had been nailed to the floor behind me, it was insane. I thought I might end up left there beached for all eternity. It really demonstrated, in a profoundly depressing way, new muscular inadequacies of which I was previously unaware. The other one we did that really made me laugh, was a sort of stretching one. You ‘simply’ had to lie on your back on the floor (so not all bad, we got to do quite a bit of lying down) and then move your bottom so it was hard against the wall, with your legs at right angles also against the wall above you. If you have never tried this, you would not believe how difficult it is just to get into that position, though once you are in it, you get a really nice hamstring stretch, I liked that. Then we just had to let our legs drop outwards, still against the wall into a wide V-shape (not glamorous) again, a really good stretch. I liked less having to raise our hips up with our feet still flat on the wall over our heads as I thought I was going to be asphyxiated by my own stomach and bust smothering my face. I just didn’t feel that was quite the sort of breathlessness that I’d signed up for when I joined the class.
Anyway, I will admit I laughed a lot, and felt like I’d had a good workout by the end. It is a bit of a shame about the corpses on the pitch outside, but then again, perhaps that’s just seasonally appropriate with Halloween only a few short days away, you have to embrace some of those seasonal celebrations or winter will just seem unending.
Don’t have nightmares…