Well, it’s been and it’s gone and … guess what … I passed! I am now a paid-up member of the Holmes Place Fitness Centre, Potsdamer Platz. No. Really. I am. I am not a hopeless physical case and I feel better already.
2pm yesterday, and we S-Bahned it into town, equipped with a SATURN bag containing a splendid badehose in my racing colours of yellow and blue, an ancient pair of white shorts which didn’t seem quite so indecently short when I last wore them, my new bathing shoes, the indispensable stick, and a little bit of apprehension.
Up to the locker room, out of my opera-going gear, into the white shorts (they may have to be retired), my espadrilles (I don’t wear sports shoes) and St Kilda T-Shirt, and I’m ready to rendez-vous with Nik.
Into the gym. Yes, places like this exist outside The Biggest Loser. Huge array of fearsome instruments of torture. When I taught keep-fit, forty plus years ago, things like this didn’t exist.
I knew it. Which machine do I fear most? The moving carpet walking/running machine. Which do we start with? I will fall off. Fall over. Can I take my stick? No? Well, I’m not showing fear! Up I get and Nik switches the thing on. I can see Paulie loitering behind my bad side, ready to leap to the rescue. Well, there are handles to hold on .. and one-two .. I’m doing it. Slowly. Awful posture, leaning forward, bum stuck out, got a bit near the back edge occasionally, but you get into the swing, get the knack. Slower is harder, oddly enough. The machine clocks up 1km, Nik switches off, I clamber down. A little wobbly, a little bit of hair inside my chest, but I did it. Now I know I can do it, I feel I’ll get much better quite quickly.
Next exercise, squats. They were surprisingly un-difficult and, even with the protuberant bum, I got down quite low and got up quite steadily. Paulie was quite impressed by my handful of squats.
Weights? Hahahaha! My right arm lift a weight? 3 kilos. Goodness. It can! Now 5 kilos. Left arm is fine: right one gets the wobbles … improvement needed.
Another machine. What the heck does this one do? I see, same principle as a rowing machine … right arm performs a wee bit better this time. And what? He wants me to hold a little medicine ball? And turn at the waist? I could never do this. Even without weights. But determination is a fine thing. So is vanity. I manage to turn my torso without turning my hips. I could never do that. Lily must have unlocked something ..
Ah! Then a good exercise! I lie on a mat and Nik pulls my legs. I like it when he does the work. But unfortunately getting down on to my back involves the most inelegant manoeuvering …
We’re done. I’m perspiring gently. Puffing slightly. Well, there’s nothing there that I positively can’t do. What’s he saying? Stand on one leg with a medicine ball … no, no. Ah! That’s where I may get to one day … hmmm, we’ll see.
Time for Paulie’s ‘senior’ session now. I’ll get stage fright if I watch. I’ll go downstairs with my new badehose and go in the pool. I’ve got an idea …
Once upon a time, my physical-health expert father told me about the benefits of exercising under water. So … no one seems to be watching … I tentatively tried some knee lifts. Front. Back. Not awful. OK, now a forward arabesque, a backward one .. left leg, right leg .. oops! frantic wobbles, unintended crabbing to the right .. I will do it. I did. Briefly.
And now I have earned a nice lie down by the pool with some of that yummy herbal tea. Should have brought a book, like the girl down the other end. Oooh, look, that man’s fatter than I am! But nobody’s anywhere near my age. Odd.
An hour passes so quickly and then Paulie arrives, hot from his training. Swim, then into the sauna. Unfortunately, I lay naked opposite the glass door. Glass reflects. Maybe that man wasn’t fatter than I …
And .. I feel like Myra Breckenridge .. WHERE ARE MY FAMOUS BUTTOCKS!
When we went up to dress, I weighed myself. 81.8. So I’m not actually fat. It’s just that what chest I had has slid down into the stomach area … and well, a few other things have gone with it. That’s probably where the gluteals disappeared to! We will have to work on that.
Well, it has all been a grand success, and it’s a huge challenge, so … upstairs to sign the papers that make me a member of the club. .. and, goodness, is it that time already? Off to the U2 and the opera….
I was pretty tired by the end of the evening, and PGB took me half-way home … but there is a tag to this tale!
This morning when I dressed, I dressed something like I used to. Pants and trousers on … without sitting down! Without holding on to the wall! Free-standing!! I have been unable to do that for three years. It’ll be free-standing socks next!
Is it the little bit of exercise, my arabesques, my head … time will tell.
And next time I will have photos to prove it.