You will recall (I am sure) that in early May, someone sent round an invitation to keep fit classes in the neighbourhood group chat. The venue is five minutes away. I had no excuse. I felt it was time. Despite my age, gender and the fact that everyone I know does yoga or Pilates, I have never done either so it was…a learning opportunity.
My first Pilates class was grand. I mean, I was stiff for a week but it was an exercise class and it reminded me of PE in school a bit. This feeling was possibly in part due to the fact that the class was held in a sweaty hall.
Then after two lessons, the Pilates teacher went on a week’s holidays and she was replaced by a yoga teacher. Dear God in heaven. She told you to put your limbs in weird places, and when you were knotted up a bit like Twister, she would say, “Now, gently raise yourself in the air.” I mean, I wouldn’t have believed it possible if I hadn’t seen a whole room of people (including pensioners) doing just that. I had unwisely settled my mat between two expert practitioners who were like bendy rubber people so that didn’t help either.
Also on offer was pickleball which is basically tennis for pensioners. At least, it is the way it’s played locally. The scoring is truly peculiar and the ball bounces delightfully slowly. I was entirely unsurprised to learn that it was invented to entertain small children. If you play tennis at all, you will star at pickleball. I may have been a dud at yoga and only alright at Pilates but by gum, I was the star of pensioners’ pickle ball from day one. It helps that I don’t limp.
Of course I was riding for a fall here. All was well and despite the fact that on week two I was hit on the thigh by a smashing pickle ball which drew blood, I remained keen for three weeks. Unfortunately at an unrelated incident – a very mild cycling accident* – I appear to have wrenched my elbow somehow and although it is not a problem in general, it is quite sore when pickling. I have retired temporarily, felled by pickling elbow.
On Fridays there is what I am now casually calling S&C – like I have ever actually been in a gym – and I was a bit unnerved at first, but I have been three times and I kind of like it. The first time the trainer was a bit worried about me when my face turned into a tomato – a constant when I exercise – and I said, “I’m not doing as badly as you think, it’s just that my face always goes red when I exercise.” “Do you have low blood pressure?” he asked. I do, and apparently that’s a thing because your heart is so anxiously pumping blood to your head to deal with concerns that your brain may be deprived of oxygen, it turns your face bright red. I am glad to have this explained after all these years. I am surprised how much stronger I seem to be getting after only a shortish time. I am no longer bottom of the class but proudly second from bottom. I fear it might be like skiing where you become alright very quickly and then never manage to progress from there.
So you are reading the words of someone who has been engaged in consistent weekly intensive exercise for the first time since she gave up hockey in her late 20s. I am really surprised how much I am enjoying it. I feel way more energetic and I am becoming surprisingly stretchy. Perhaps if I do yoga again, I may even be able to rise gracefully into the air. Perhaps not. We will be stopping for the summer and by the time we recommence I may be back at work but perhaps I will look into evening classes. Perhaps not.
*I was cycling into town to meet a friend for lunch and I was a bit late. It was raining and I turned too fast (although my maximum speed is VERY slow) into a street which is now pedestrian and bicycle only expecting it to be pretty empty which it was, except for the cyclist I bumped into. We both pulled our brakes pretty hard and the actual collision was very slow and I didn’t even fall over. He did in extremely slow motion. I was mortified and apologised profusely. The odd pedestrian scurrying by in the rain paused hoping to be amused by the bike on bike violence but the man was really nice, very gentle and quietly spoken. As he got up, saying he was ok, he added “Please try to cycle more carefully in the future” which was pretty mild, all things considered. However, in braking hard and turning my front wheel, I do seem to have done some mild damage to my elbow. Let us hope that my temporary retirement from pickleball will give it time to recover.