I’ve done it again. Some people pile on the pounds at Christmas, gobbling up mince pies and greasy canopés. Not me. I prefer to work on my spare tyre over the summer months, just in time to don a bikini and inflict myself on the good people of Spain. Beer and crisps. Sauvignon Blanc and an olive or six. You show me a BBQ and I’ll show you how many hotdogs I can chow down in the one sitting. My father-in-law looked on with something resembling awe in Malaga, at my ability to demolish a plate of tapas like a bear on steroids. Munch munch I went, and chorizo, fried feta with honey drizzle and my absolute favourite, ‘polpo’ (or octopus) disappeared in minutes.
Back home I’m no better, especially since Al brought his bloody gelato to the Ormeau Road. He’s a lot to answer for, yon fella. Some mums sit, sipping on their americano while their kids scoop away at their wee tubs of Kinder Bueno or mint choc chip. Again, not me. ‘Would that be a new flavour there Al? Give us a nice waffle cone of peanut butter sharpish there. It’s been a long morning.’ Gelato is just the thing on a sunny afternoon. Or a rainy one, I’m not fussy.
So, tired of pouring myself into my jeans like cement, I decided to take action, and my friend Ioana has introduced me to the class ‘FunXtion’ at the PEC. Now the name, is, frankly, a bit of a misnomer. It should be called, ‘Pack up your dignity in an old kit bag, and leave it at the door.’
The instructor, Paul, has you doing all sorts. I can imagine him, dreaming up these activities in the pub with a pint, chortling away to himself. ‘Wait til you see those eejits on Tuesday, how I’ll snigger,’ he must say. He makes us crawl. He watches as we push big boxes with weights on top. ‘’Refine your position!’ he gulders. ‘Ten seconds left! MAKE. THEM. COUNT.’
He gives a run through of all the exercises at the start and then you trot round with a partner, interchanging after a minute of torture. I spend most of my time looking bemused and saying ‘You have to do WHAT? Is a sit-up not bad enough without adding a dumbbell?’ If rubber was your thing it would make your day because there’s a fair bit of hanging off bars and straining against resistance bands. I hope there’s no secret fetishists getting a cheap thrill.
I do like the class though, because it promotes a certain sense of camaraderie, if only because everyone looks like a right pillock. There’s one fellow, and I’m tired looking at him as he’s at every bloody class I go to. Circuits: he’s there. FunXtion, he’s STILL there. He even came to yoga a couple of weeks ago and I was like, ‘Do you seriously have nothing else to do with yourself mate? And he’s one of THOSE friggers, who goes and SWAPS his kettle bells for even heavier ones when it’s his turn and says ‘WOWAH,’ every time he flings it in the air. I’m always looking on thinking ‘If you let go of that bastard thing I will sue the f**king life clean out of you,’ (that is, if I’m not dead, which is the more likely option, should it clunk me on the head.) But there’s a few other regulars who obviously think he’s a bit of a dick as well so some discreet eye-rolling goes on. It makes me feel better.
Then there was an auld fella this lunchtime, and bless him, but his shorts were VERY flimsy and he really ought to have put a wee pair of leggings on. He was no Burt Reynolds and I was thinking ‘I hope to God that junk stays in the trunk because I’ve suffered enough this class without those visuals.’
You will see a photo of me, clinging, limpet like onto the same punch bag that minutes early I’d been pounding the life out of, practising my left hook. That was one of the exercises: just ‘hang on to it,’ which for a whole minute is harder than it seems. My thigh muscles aren’t nearly as robust as I’d hoped. But if ever I’m caught in a tropical storm I feel more confident that I won’t be swept out to sea, and can attach myself to a tree, should the need arise.
But you laugh. You sweat. And later, when you’re sitting on the sofa with a bar of Green and Blacks and a glass of Malbec left over from the weekend, you feel a bit better about yourself. Maybe I’ll see you there next Tuesday and we can lock eyes and look on with disdain at the show-off together.