Being myself an avid fan of ‘The biggest Loser’ and a moderate tolerator of exercise this led me to think of the exercise we all do. We all seem to hear contradicting theories about the amount of exercise that you are meant to do whether it is 5 hours of cardio and weights a week or as 'little as' a half hour walk per day. Some articles would even have you believe that sitting around burns plenty of calories or there are those that subscribe to the ‘why bother exercising, when tomorrow I could be run over by a bus’ philosophy. Seen as the buses seem to go slow round here (believe me I have followed them home) I have decided to stick with the ‘half hour to an hour a day of physical exertion’ philosophy.
As I was coming back from a gym class today it occurred to me that ‘Spinning’ would be way more fun if it was actually spinning, you know like spin and spin till your dizzy, spinning. I envisioned a large field (somewhat like my primary school playing field) and the class would be full of people arms outstretched just spinning (and trying not to bump into other people) till they are dizzy and they fall down. Then they get back up and keep spinning, well until the class is over, at least. No inhibitions, no ridiculously tight spandex outfits, no annoying ridiculously fit trainers- you could even do it in your lunchbreak. This idea didn’t seem out there ridiculous, I mean there are classes where people go to just laugh… that’s right, laugh. The people running it must be making a mint, I mean I am guessing there’s no training necessary. The people attending must be really miserable if they have tried everything else though, I mean do they not have access to E4 or comedy central? If we are taking sports names literally I think I would definitely avoid squash, as I do not care to imagine what pain that could inflict.
This morning I was feeling the pain of yesterday’s ‘Pilates’ (pronounced Pih-lah-tees) class and went downstairs to my mum in an effort to garner some sympathy, I realised the pain in my stomach was from a backward to forward roll I had done, Mum said she had looked up to our class, while she was sweating away on the elliptical machine, and said it looked like a lot of stretching and joked that there wasn’t a wooden sword or plank in site (for those wondering, it was a play on it being a pirates class) We imagined this great concept, I said we would go around the room, dressed up of course, and challenge people to a dual, using mock Pirate type accents à la Cap’n Jack Sparrow (so pretty much Keith Richards) Mum then asked whether I ever played ‘Pirates’ at school, running around with the sportsmats on the ground and the big mats were the ship and anything off the mat was the sea and there were teams and stuff (that was all I caught) I thought what great fun that’d be and how if ‘Pilates’ based on the methods of breathing, stretching and such that a man named Joseph Pilates created, was actually ‘Pirates’ a riilly riilly fun game with mats and running around (and I am envisioning some laughing and screaming too) I know which I would choose….
So what if exercise were as fun today as it was when we were children? When I was a child, I cycled most places, I spun for fun, I swam at a swimming pool we had at school and I played in the park most days just running around and swinging on the swings and jumping off and there was none of this parental supervision rubbish.
At my secondary school we had every (mind numbing, annoying) thing at our disposal, fells (mountains to non-Cumbrians) that we had to walk up and complete a certain amount of squares on a chart (oh how the matron miss Burns enjoyed filling that in). The chart was one square for every certain amount of feet and you had to complete 13 squares and climb a minimum of 3 fells. *A flashback to Mr Lonsdale my housemaster walking round the school dining room, hands in his pockets jangling… um something… trying to get people to volunteer to go fellwalking (by now I had a pretty good idea of the height of each individual fell) oh how I remember being volunteered by Emma-Jane every (single bloomin') time she volunteered herself and how I would then either walk way ahead of her or way behind (that’d teach her... or so you’d think)*
Oh how I remember queuing for all the things we 'needed': a bivvy bag (a glorified bin liner in a striking orange colour) that we could slide down the fell in should the (glorious)occasion arise- it never did (dang it) uncomfortable worn in old boots (that stank) and big thick socks and that’s all I recall, for I think some things were banished to the 'police line, do not cross' segment of my memory.
Also, being in Cumbria (lucky lucky me) we had rock climbing, canoeing, abseiling, crag hopping, netball, hockey, tennis, dry slope skiing (a great one for tearing clothes) and my true personal favourite- trampolining. Ah trampolining where we played games with names like 'scrambled eggs' and pretty much just bounced around, for fun (whatever happened to just bouncing around for fun?). I have three neighbours each with big trampolines and we have no garden so everyday I fight the temptation to jump on theirs. I am debating learning Dutch or improving my German just to forge a (admittedly shallow) friendship with them, one of them also has horses. “hello aardig om u, welke mooie te ontmoeten paarden u hebt, ik met uw trampoline kunt spelen? OoOoOoOoh en is dat een zwembad?” loosely translated from “hello nice to meet you, what beautiful horses you have, may I play with your trampoline? OoOoOoh and is that a swimming pool?” it could be the start of a beautiful friendship (for me).
These days most of us struggle to so much as walk anywhere, for the majority of people the gym takes more motivation than we are usually able to muster up, that or we are too burnt out from work. I know we don’t have as much energy as we did when we were children but more’s the pity eh?! Thank goodness for fun classes like 'Zumba', fun dancy aerobics to Latin beat music, that and other dance classes. There is a niche in the market though for proper spinning and a piRates class, I’ll have a word with the gym manager, I think I am more than qualified and I can do a wonderful impression of Elizabeth Swann… (be wooden, got it)