Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Reluctant Pugilist

I'm growing used to the ups and downs of being in this state of between jobness. For the most part, my tactic of making sure I'm pretty busy works in keeping my moods in check. Then there are times when the doldrums strike and I have to work out how to get myself back on track.

Today, on waking, there was a little feeling of sadness. Her Royal Highness went home yesterday and she's left big hole - thankfully not in the furniture, but her little, happy, cuddly presence was no longer in the flat. I was becoming used to waking up to a cuddle first thing in the morning (well, the cuddle came after I'd deigned to feed her... bloody cats).

Then came the time to plan the day. An hour of reading, writing, job hunting, exercising and cleaning. I set myself the spin class at lunchtime at the gym for the exercise portion of the day. Writing was the first job off the ranks, challenging myself to submit an article to the local paper. Cleaning would take place once the article was in. Job hunting was relegated to after the gym and reading would take place before going to dream group. All nice and orderly.

To some, this might seem like an anal way to plan the day, especially when I'm effectively on holiday, but I like the order and the structure. I like to think that I'm doing something constructive with the time.

By eleven, the article had been sent in and I was half way through the ironing pile. I was dressed in my gym gear ready to get all sweaty on a stationary bike for an hour when the call came in. Uncle Mike, an old family friend. The sort of old family friend who calls me Pandy, drops by whenever he's in Melbourne (just as I do when I'm in Brisbane) and I love catching up with him and his wife. He and Aunt Joan are some of the lovely people from my childhood. He said they'd be over in half an our to take me to lunch.

Bugger, there goes spin class.

They turned up in their converted bus cum motor home. One of the best things about Uncle Mike is that you'd never know what sort of vehicle he'll be turning up in. He's taken me to school in everything from a semi-trailer to a fifty seater luxury bus to a Rolls Royce. Uncle Mike used to do something with transport - I've never been sure what exactly, but it appears he never goes anywhere in the same vehicle twice.

After a leisurely lunch at the Ikea Cafe, they went off back to Brisbane and I got stuck into the job hunting and the ironing.

It was then the doldurms struck. Exercise - what to do? Being due at dream group at 7.30 what were the options?. I'd texted Pinochet to see if he wanted a training partner. He texted back "Haha, I'm training with a couple of guys today. You train with the other girls. That's why they are there. You're funny but I love your enthusiasm." Piffle. He's just scared I'll show the grunty boys how it's done. Without stopping to pose after ever ten reps. Probably a blessing looking at it now. I don't like posers.

Then the cry went out. Bless Facebook. " Pandora Behr is trying to find the motivation to do something constructive. Since my lunchtime spin class was rudely taken away I'm a bit lost."

Emm and Kit came to the rescue. Emm said come into the city and do spin with her. Kit said come to BodyCombat class.

Over the past few years, one thing that I've had pressed into me - exercise is far more fun if you do it with somebody else. I  tend to do the exercise when I know that somebody is waiting for  me at the other end, whether that be the gym, the pool or a car park. Other people egg me on to do better, do more, go further - and on some days, just get my sorry bum around a gentle lap of the Tan track (A lap of the Botanical Gardens is one of the nicest city walks in Melbourne with a big hill thrown in for good measure)

I chose the Kit option - Body Combat. Argh. Another new thing. Every time I've looked at the Body Combat class I've dissed it for another sponsored epileptic fit of a class. On speaking to the instructor before we started, I told her of my bung knee. She looked me up and down, told me to take it easy with the kicking and told me to get back to the back row where I could blend in.

Oh, how wrong was I. It was the best fun I've had doing a cardio workout in ages. Burned nearly 600 calories in the class according to my heart rate monitor. Kit kept on looking over at me. After calling her every name under the sun, she could see I was having a ball. I more than kept up. I didn't want to die half way through. I seemed to be doing better than some of the regulars. "See, you had nothing to worry about."

Jabs, crosses, uppercuts, hooks, body blows - just not connecting the punches. Yep, all in my repertoire. I have to work on my roundhouse kicks -  but then again, I'm not Chuck Norris - he's the king of the roundhouse.

Muscle memory is a wonderful thing.

What I haven't told many people. Boxing is the one thing that got me into exercise. Back in London, 15 years ago, the gym in the basement at work ran a boxercise class. I'd just discovered Weight Watchers in the months before and decided to try to do some exercise to help things along. For some reason I chose to do this manic, high intensity class.

I remember coming back from that first lunchtime class the colour of a beetroot, exhausted and barely able to work after, such was the intensity on my poor, unfit, overweight body. This was the first time I'd ever done a real cardio class. I went home after the day, slept for eleven hours that night and could barely move the next day. (see below for obligatory beetroot shot taken after my first sponsored run - I just wish I got my pink geek t-shirt in better)

Strangely - I went back two days later, and again, and again. Two years after that first class I was training with one of Lennox Lewis's old coaches in a grunty boy gym complete with blood on the mat, a canvas ring and obligatory wrist strapping.

Boxing was the class that actually go me into exercise. Since then, I've managed to get over most of my exercise phobias. I've always walked a lot, but I've managed to keep a gym membership and use it regularly. Strangely, I took up running at the ripe old age of 40. I'll do spin class, weights, you name it, I'll do it (except burpees - refuse to do burpees - they give me vertigo)

So now, I'm sitting here, I know I have Latsimus Dorsi muscles (Back muscles to the masses) - they're a bit tight. My right deltoid (shoulder) is a a little achy. But hell, I feel good!

The reluctant pugilist has been awakened.

Next Wednesday, before dream group, I'll be back - punching the air, kicking away the demons, trying to perfect my Chuck Norris roundhouse kick.

And I know I've come full circle.


Aim said...

LOVE your spirit with that one!! I've always done my "own thing" with the exercise - I always end up being the force that has to drive others to do it with me?!! Maybe I get too competitive, who knows?!

WAY TO GO YOU! Keep it up!!! May very well need to go try some of that myself... ooOOOoooh I hear 'challenge'!!

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Sounds like me and Billy Blanks, the Tae-bo king. I've (kind of) been allowing myself to be berated via DVD and throwing punches and kicks too.

I think, to be fair, I prefer more sedate exercise like sprinting! :0)

Still it is easier in the winter than cycling in temperatures below freezing. Come on warm weather - I want to get fit without kicking air!




Kath Lockett said...

You're like Aim after her run - how come you can look that good after putting your body through its paces???? I thought like I've been hosed down with raspberry cordial and dragged backwards through a bush....

I'm a loner when it comes to exercise having done the aerobics, gym and circuit classes in the late 80s. It somehow works for me - thinking time, reminiscing time, solutions time.

No boxing but I did do two years of karate, so plenty of roundhouse kicks and katas..... Maybe I'll get back into it again one day.