Enough time has passed, my friends, not only since my last literary attempt but also since the incident which I shall now recount – and when I have finished, you will realise why I have waited six weeks to report back. Firstly, let us recap.
When I last left you, dear reader, I had embarked on a health and fitness regime which included ‘The Visit’, whereby a yapping wee slip of a thing shows you around a gym’s facilities and sells the benefits of exercise to you, followed by squeezing my ample frame into ill-fitting Lycra, and finally meeting Dave, the personal trainer, and discussing my current health. All good so far.
Oh, the exuberance and new-found confidence with which I bounded to the gym the following Thursday evening, an evening which promised a renewed energy for running and leaping, squatting and thrusting, steaming and sauna-ing. As always though, patient reader, this enthusiasm would soon be extinguished, like the proverbial pissed-upon firework.
The evening began with the afore-mentioned ‘Lycra Olympics’ which includes the hurdles (trying to get my legs into stretchy jogging bottoms), trampolining (half an hour of bouncing around the room as I attempt to hitch them over my hips), gymnastics,(throwing myself around the floor, waving my arms in the air as I try to trap two rolls of back fat into a top befitting the gym) and finally the marathon (the 10 metre walk to the car, which leaves me puffing and panting – never a good sign).
A ten minute drive later and cut to me sitting in the Camry trying to get all unfortunate noises out of my body before the onslaught. This includes; burping, farting, sneezing (which, at my age, may also involve both burping and farting as well as, let’s face it, weeing), swearing, grunting and hiccupping. God knows what I must have looked like. Imagine the scene; a pudgy, middle-aged woman, apparently suffering from a most unfortunate case of Tourette’s, sitting in an ill-lit car park on a wet and windy Thursday evening, rocking gently and exuding intermittent noises; ‘Burp, fart, bollocks, achooooo, fart, hic, hurrrrrrrrrr, burp, bugger it, faarrrrrrt, arse.’ (I would like to state at this point, that other than the swearing I am in no way capable of producing that much noise in terms of oral and/or anal flatulence – although I can make myself sneeze, a skill which will never get me on ‘Australia’s Got Talent’, but which has been an ice-breaker at parties. Really bloody boring parties).
David is fifteen minutes late, in which time there has been a build-up of unfortunate noises, but no time to worry about those, I have a cross trainer to tackle!
‘On ya get mate!’ chirrups Dave. He calls me ‘mate’ a lot which I actually find quite emasculating. Surely the very nature of my skin-tight jogging bottoms quite clearly demonstrates that I am in fact female?
‘On ya get mate! Let’s do a quick warm up and then we’ll crack on!’
I leap on to the cross trainer with all the grace and dexterity of a dead gazelle, the pedals shift under me and the machine spits me off the other side disgustedly. Dave catches me under the armpits expertly.
‘Don’t worry mate! I’ve got ya!’ What a tremendous start.
He manipulates the buttons as I set off with misplaced enthusiasm, my legs becoming a blur as I swish them backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards. The energy produced by the chaffing of my thighs could have powered a small Australian township, and I’m quite surprised that the friction of the Lycra didn’t cause a bushfire. Dave had cleverly covered the controls so that I could not see the time completed, but after what seemed like an eternity, the side effects of not exercising for two years became horrifically apparent; my lungs began to burn, bile started to rise to the back of my throat, the rest of the gym’s patrons became a set of shadowy figures and my legs began to feel like two alien tentacles. Finally, he allowed me to step off the contraption. I heaved and spluttered, desperately trying to catch my breath and regain some of my previous composure.
‘How, pant, long, cough, was I, wheeze, on for?’ I manage to gasp.
‘Ok mate, let’s try some lunges!’ Now, there are three phrases in the English Language which fill me with dread more than any others; ‘Mummy, look what I’ve done’, ‘Sorry, we’ve sold out of Crunchies’, and ‘Let’s try some lunges’. It is not easy for a lady of my ample frame to manoeuvre herself up and down using the strength of just her thighs – it’s not easy to manoeuvre my frame out of a chair using my legs and an industrial winch, so the thought of lunges made me sick in my mouth a little bit. Dave approaches me brandishing a ski pole.
‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a rectal exam!’ he quips. Oh good, because that’s what put me off the gym in the UK, all the rectal exams…
The idea was to use the pole to push myself back up once I had managed to lower myself down. Five reps on my right leg went ok. Then I got a little cocky…
As I lunged forward on my left leg, my right leg decided that it had had enough and was off to contact its union about the amount of overtime it was being forced to do. I felt it buckle under me, but there was nothing I could do, and my arse acted as a pendulum propelling me backwards. I fell on to the floor with an almighty thump, and then bounced across the laminate a little. It was like a scene from ‘The Dambusters’ – had there been any German fighter pilots in there, I’m fairly sure they would have shit themselves as did Dave, who again attempted to catch me. When he realised that he was not going to save me this time, he waited until the bouncing had stopped and then endeavoured to pick me up. Unfortunately, he is lighter than me so the effect of this was beyond comedic to the, by then, dozen or so onlookers. Imagine Torvill and Dean’s ‘Bolero’, the bit where he pulls her majestically over the ice. Now imagine that Christopher Dean is dragging a sweating mass of amorphous, undulating cellulite across a laminate gym floor, with a slight, moist squeaking noise emanating from under its crotch as it fails to get its feet down to stand up. That is what we looked like. Surely this can’t get any worse, I thought. Oh, how wonderfully naive…
I watched Dave stalk off to the corner of the gym and listened with horror at the metallic rasping sound as he dragged a bench over to where I was standing. Not step-ups, please not step-ups…
‘Right mate, let’s do some step-ups!’ Not since Adam has a man misjudged a woman so completely. What Dave had failed to realise, is that my right leg had won its tribunal and had convinced the rest of my body to go out on strike with it. Five step-ups later saw me sitting on said bench with my head between my legs, trying not to vomit, a damp rag on the back of my neck and Dave’s constant droning,’Wellatleastyoumadeitiherematethat’smorethanalotofpeoplewouldhave blahblahblah.’
The fact that the first training session I have ever had consisted of falling off a machine, falling off my own legs and then passing out seemed not to phase our Dave.
Of course, I went home and burst into tears, out of a kind of angry self-pity; however undeterred I returned the very next day and tried again. On my own. Very slowly. And three weeks later, I can complete a good 15 minutes on the cross trainer and I actually look forward to going – which is something I never thought I would say.
Now, if I could only give up my penchant for Tim Tam sandwiches, I’m sure the weight would just drop off…