Saturday, 1 May 2010

Unchartered Territory

I made one of those spur of the moment decisions the other day and signed up to join the newly opened Curves gym in town.

I did once join a gym. It was staffed by muscular blokes in too-tight t-shirts and surprisingly small feet. The gentleman who showed me how to use the equipment kept checking himself out in the mirror. Given that I was doing my level best to avoid checking myself out in the mirror at that point, it was all a bit disconcerting. Perhaps I was intended to check him out instead? He'd have liked that. But for all his well-defined pecs he had a problem with nasal hair that couldn't be overlooked.

I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt on three separate occasions before coming to the conclusion that it just wasn't my thang. I wallowed in guilt for a while at the money wasted and that's when I bought the cheap exercise bike that has been so instrumental to my weight loss campaign these last few months. (Oh yes. The exercise bike has been an integral part of the furniture for much longer than I've actually been using it. At one point, The Man I Married suggested that we just put it in the attic, but in much the same way as everything looks somewhat strange once you remove the Christmas decorations, the room looked bare without its brooding presence in the corner.)

So, Curves. I know someone who has used this gym before although I have to be honest I have no idea if she's still using it, but it was her description of a women-only environment that tugged at me. A lack of narcissistic, body-building, disproportionately-footed neanderthals in need of a nose trim had to be appealing!

On the day I signed up it was being staffed by Lynne. Her nose looked just fine. She explained the way that Curves was run and showed me some of the equipment. Then she weighed me, measured me, made me hold a fat monitor and asked a whole bunch of rather personal questions. The net result of all this is that inspite of shifting four stone of extra me I'm still carrying too much fat. Not by much admittedly, but we need more muscle! I agreed to come back the next day for my first full session and the start of my new adventure - not to get thinner, but to become fitter.

When Lynne explained the Curves circuit to me, I had decided that perhaps this was going to be a bit easy. Thirty seconds on each machine and then move on to the next one? Thirty seconds is nothing. How pathetic would you have to be if you couldn't manage thirty seconds? Even the prospect of doing the circuit three times didn't seem that daunting.

We started. Don't ask me what these machines are all called. There's a website that probably explains it. I started with an arm pusher thing. You use the first six machines in the circle to warm up and every so often you're asked to check your pulse rate. I was aiming to maintain mine, according to their chart on the wall, between 20 and 24 over a ten second period. I started out with a resting pulse of 10. After the warm up (arm pushing, leg kicks, stomach yanking, arm-waving, leg-stretching, can-can) this had risen to 19. She decided I wasn't working hard enough and encouraged me to push myself round the rest of the circuit (squats, calf-raises, arm-pumping, jogging on the spot, something that looked like milking a cow, more squats, I don't even remember the half of it now) I was pumping away at 24, sweating like a very hot person and thinking that I'd pay money not to have to do this again.

You use the last six machines to cool down again and then you head for the stretching station. Blessed relief at last! And then that was it. I'd done it. I hadn't felt like cringing, I hadn't fainted, I had actually worked bloody hard and almost, almost enjoyed it in a masochistic manner. At least, I'm resolved to return on Monday and do it all again so it can't have been that bad!