Wednesday, 3 June 2015

And Lunge, Two, Three, Four


 
In Home Comforts my main character, Jo boosts her income by teaching keep fit in the local village hall. The inspiration for this came from my own experience of teaching aerobics in my early twenties. Jane Fonda fever had begun to sweep across the globe and I wanted to be part of that leotard wearing revolution. After being recruited via an advert in the local newspaper, I began a short period of training and soon found myself standing in front of my first group of guinea pigs. Some had positioned themselves right at the front and were bursting with enthusiasm while others had obviously been bullied into coming by friends and relatives, and simply glowered at me with their arms folded.


Classes were taught in the function room of a big, slightly run-down hotel in the centre of town; each class lasted for two hours - very long by today’s standards, and most evenings I had to teach two classes in a row. No wonder I shrank to just over seven stone! I had little cue cards featuring stickmen demonstrating each exercise, and had to make sure I didn’t drop them. At first I just wore a stripy swimming costume over a pair of black footless tights but then I progressed to a flashy red and white high cut ‘wrestler’ leotard (think 1980s Page 3 girls except I had a top under mine!) I also bought a selection of footless tights and leg warmers in various colours. If any dodgy-looking men stopped to leer at us through the door, we always embarrassed them by inviting them to join us.


As the workout was so long, we used to stop halfway through to get a drink from the bar. I used to have orange juice and soda but some people had a swift half of cider or lager. I must admit that their performance improved after that! To demonstrate how to do the perfect lunge or squat I was required to stand on a trestle table at the front of the class. This served its purpose, but have you ever tried exercising on a very wobbly old table? Any health and safety advice was totally ignored.


The soundtrack for each class was on a cassette played through speakers and I can’t listen to Eurythmics, Tina Turner or The Pointer Sisters without remembering a group of breathless, sweaty people mirroring my every move, even when I was only bending down to tie my shoelace.


When I got my first full-time job in an estate agent, I found that my days as an instructor were numbered, and in the end, I had to give it up. I am often reminded of those days, especially when my hip gets stuck in its socket and I visit my back surgeon! Jane Fonda’s still thriving (after surgery) and looks half her age - I don’t think I’ll be so lucky!




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