I think I can safely say that of all the things that I have done in the last few months whilst preparing for this little adventure, that doing my first Body Pump class was probably one of the most surreal, and also probably (I am afraid to say) the most challenging. I am of the ilk “give me a mountain anytime” compared to what they put you through there.
Firstly I had no idea what I was doing there. I arrive at 9.30 on a Sunday morning, to find various leotard clad women (and two men, thankfully not wearing leotards) all pulling out step equipment and weights and stuff. I amble in and look bemused (certainly), nervous (probably), out of shape (definitely), and not dressed properly (Jack Nicholson “Who’s the Daddy?” T-shirt).
I am greeted by not one, not two, but three instructors, all of whom are sort of telling me at the same time that they have all been double-booked for the class, but that they are all going to do it anyway, and that I must be new here, and not to worry, and that it will all be OK etc. I feel like it is my first day at school all over again, and contemplate running out of the door. I decide to brave it out, which was my second bad move of the day (just being there at all was the first, obviously).
So for those of you who know what Body Pump is, please skip this bit altogether. I didn’t (know that is), and maybe someone who reads this doesn’t either, so this is for them: Body Pump is a torture chamber. You do all sorts of things that you might have done when you were at school and were halfways fit, like push ups, sit ups, lunges, squats and the like, except you do it with weights/bar bells. Sounds easy? Not on your life! They also lull you into a false sense of security at first, as the gym is full of girls carrying weights of around 10kg or so, and you think to yourself “pah – they are girls, I am man, me Tarzan, me carry 50kg“. Then you realise very quickly just how completely and totally stupid you are.
Firstly these people know what they are doing; secondly they are fitter than me; thirdly they are apparently stronger than me; and fourth…..why didn’t I just leave when I had the chance at the start? Oh yes and all three instructors are looking at me, permanently, as I am the new boy. Could be also they are looking at me because they think that I may collapse at any moment – if only they knew how true that was! And I am sweating buckets too, and my Jack Nicholson T-shirt doesn’t look very good soaking wet. Oh yes and the music is so incredibly loud I feel like I want to scream. I imagine that at any moment they will fill the room with foam, they will start passing round ecstasy tablets, and I will find that I have been transported to Ibiza. In fact that would be a relief.
The zenith of the class comes towards the end. After the warm up (exhausting), lunges (ridiculous), tricep curls (don’t even want to describe them to you), and various other excruciating things, you end up doing the Plank with rotations and things. Oh yes and at one point you have to grab your weights and put them to your forehead (“peak caps everyone!“) as you do sit ups – well I dropped mine onto my nose and thought I was about to have a nosebleed. When they finally do the warmdown at the end I am lying in a heap on my mat, too exhausted to even move. This is one hour and ten minutes of absolute, unadulterated, bloody torture. If someone could have said halfway through “don’t worry, it’s all a bad dream, just jump into this hole and it will all be over soon” I would have gone, not caring where the hole might take me. I imagine for a moment that if this is just an aerobics class with weights, what the hell will Kilimanjaro be like? Help – what am I doing?
At the end of the class I sort of stand there dumbfounded. I am red as a beetroot, and perspiring like a hosepipe. I am rooted to the spot. People around me are clearing up my equipment for me, probably feeling sorry for me, wondering, like me, what I was doing there. The main instructor, Aisha, comes up to me and says “well how was that then?”. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry, but instead I sort of mutter a little whimper, and say “ok I think“, which is a euphemism for “leave me alone, you sadistic, evil person you”.
I eventually clamber down the stairs and back to the changing rooms, and I sit on the bench for a few minutes, and contemplate life, the universe and everything. After a minute or so, I decide there is only one thing to do. I therefore march straight into the gym, jump onto the first exercise bike I see, whack it into high gear and pedal for all I am worth. After a few minutes one of the girls who was in the Body Pump class walks into the gym and sees me and comes over to me. She says “wow, well done, that’s great“. That makes me pedal a lot harder.
So you know what I am going to do tomorrow? 7.15am? Yep, another Body Pump class. I’ll tell you something else I am going to do as well – I am going to climb that mountain – it might beat me in the end, but I am going to absolutely give it my all. Bring it on!