Thursday, February 03, 2005

"All I've got here are books and music, I used to have excercise but I outgrew it..." (Eskimo Joe)

It takes a certain kind of person to be a fitness junkie: you either are one, or you're not. You either live and breathe gym mats and BMIs and fat pinch tests and personal bests, or you don't. Achieving taut abs, rock-hard gluts and rounded calves is either a sign of spiritual fulfillment for you, or it ain't.

It's not a matter of laziness or the decay of our Western lifestyles, it's a personality thing -- I'm sure of it. I probably should have realised that by now. If not when I was vainly pounding the bitumen clad in a t-shirt and bloomers during a junior athletics fad, then surely during swimming lessons, my short-lived foray into tennis, the year I wore a lycra leotard and irredescent stockings every Saturday to dance classes or the time I signed up at the gym and allowed an aging ex-athlete to pinch my stomach fat with plastic tweezers in order to determine my body fat percentage and devise a mind-numbingly dull program of lifting weights and running and running and running and getting nowhere.

But ever slow to learn, I braved the weather last night -- weather fit for neither woman not gym junkie -- to attend my first kickboxing circuit class. It's supposed to be an hour worth of 3 minute sets (to simulate fighting time in a ring) of skipping, push-ups and pad and bag work.

And it nearly killed me.

I had the misfortune of being partnered with some Slavic superwoman. A tall, lean blonde with a strong accent, designer track suit pants, painted nails and an endless supply of energy. After jogging around the room so many times I lost count, with our instructor yelling drill-sergeant-like "knees up!" "push ups!" I was fairly knackered and after the first few rounds of pad-work (alternately kicking and punching heavy boxing pads with Katya the Fearless was holding) I was about ready to curl up in a ball with a pint of hot chocolate. But it was my turn to hold the pads -- which weighed about as much as a small child -- while Katya proceeded to kick and punch the hell out of them. I didn't have any strength left for resistance, so I just limply held them at waist height. She had to keep adjusting them to face-height and I was sure I was going to lose a tooth. My blood pressure plummeted and in my dizzy, fatigued state the smell of feet (which had attached itself to everything, including the pads I was holding) was making me nauseous. During a thirty second break inbetween sets I happened to glance down at my feet and noticed that the big toe on my right foot was torn and bloodied, no doubt the victim of a shin kick that went awry. Nice.

It went on like that for an hour. I've never been so glad to leave a place.

Driving home, with the rain belting my windscreen in much the same way that Katya was belting me not sixty minutes ago, I had an epiphany: "it's not friggin' worth it." I recalled the sight of the couple I'd seen jogging on the drive in. They were wearing blue shorts and short, fluroescent yellow rain-jackets that flapped in the wind and rain. At first I thought they were uniformed cops and wondered what they were doing sprinting around a relatively quiet part of the suburbs. Then I realised: they were excercising. And so single-minded were they in their quest for fitness that they couldn't take one night off, citing a thunderstorm as an excuse.

They truly are a different breed, are fitness fanatics. And though I might occasionally wish I was fitter or that I had Gwen Stefani's abs, I have been to dark side: and it's not worth the work.


Blogger transience said...

funny you should talk about this. i am NOT a fitness fanatic. NOT. i do not like more than the average amount of sweat. if that makes me a lemming, then so be it. me and my body are friends now.

Thu. Feb. 03, 04:03:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Calaloola said...

Good for you trans. Me and my body are still on-again, off-again best buds. But if anyone is a lemming (lean, rat-like creatures throwing themselves off cliffs), then surely its those lycra-clad gym junkies, and not us?! ;)

Fri. Feb. 04, 11:33:00 am 2005  
Blogger Jay said...

I am not a fanatic by any means. I do like to run around a lot, I have a lot of energy, but I hate routine and I could never faithfully commit myself to any kind of regimen. Over the years, I can't even say how many sports and classes I've gone through, and after the first round is over, I never re-sign. Good intentions fly out the window if I can sleep in.

Fri. Feb. 04, 05:11:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Calaloola said...

Thats me all over, Jay. Unfortunately it doesn't just go for excercise, but supposedly fun stuff too. Like last year I took salsa and swing classes -- about 8 - 10 of each. Learned a few basic steps, then got bored (in the latter case it was boredom from dancing with old ladies, mostly ;P) and back to daytime TV for a few months. Sometimes I wish I could apply myself to SOMEthing...

Sat. Feb. 05, 01:12:00 pm 2005  
Blogger jet said...

dude, you STARTED with a kickboxing class? yeh i did that once, nearly killed me as well... however i used to quite enjoy aqua aerobics and normal aerobics once i got the hang of it.
give 'em a burl.
now i can't be arsed doing any.
i need a personal trainer to keep me going, but they're too expensive. bah humbug!
splendiferous to see you!

Mon. Feb. 14, 10:20:00 pm 2005  
Blogger Calaloola said...

Yeah, I know. But I also know my tendency to get bored after half a dozen of anything -- maybe I was subconciously trying to fast-forward to the sod-it-all portion of my fitness attempts :) I've done body combat since, which is like kick boxing-aerobics. It wasn't bad. (I may or may not have complained to you about the pain when we caught up for our greasy brekky, the muscle aches took two days to materialise for some reason ;)) Anyway, I'm switching to Body Balance (pilates, etc.) for the rest of my ten class pass, I think.

Spiffing to see you, too!

Tue. Feb. 15, 11:17:00 pm 2005  
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