When I starting writing this post, last Thursday night, I was lying in bed, wearing socks. I wouldn’t usually wear socks to bed, but I did that night. Not because I was cold. I wasn’t. It’s because my thighs weren’t working. So it was just too painful to bend my knees and take my socks off. Bloody bootcamp!
I’ve been to bootcamp three times this week. And I feel very superior as a result. On Monday evening, we started with a weigh-in. I’m 100 grams heavier than when I started. 100 grams is about the weight of a tube of toothpaste. A small tube. Not a big deal.
On Monday, we did circuit training for 45 minutes, followed by abs training for 15 minutes. The circuits were exhausting. And the abs were inexplicable. During a series of different exercises, where we focused on our core and on our abs, we were told to suck in our tummies. Fair enough. We were further told to try to pull in our belly buttons, so that they were as close as possible to our spine. Still fine. It was the next instruction that shocked me.
The trainer told us to focus on the “parts we use for the toilet”. I held in a little giggle. We were told to “pull all that in”. She said to the boys to “suck in your crown jewels”. Really? Well, OK. I guess that is possible. Although, “suck” is a fairly atrocious choice of verb. And don’t even get me started on this business of calling your testicles “crown jewels”. But then she told the ladies to “zip up their little zip down below”. Women have a little zip down below? Who knew? Are they born with this zip? Or is it added in later life in a minor medical operation? This thought preoccupied me for the next fifteen minutes while we worked our abs.
As I walked home from bootcamp on Monday, I was feeling fairly full of myself. Things are going well. After 6 weeks of full-time work, I’m feeling more of a human being than I do when I’m a student. And it is work I love. I have my scholarship for next year sorted. I haven’t had a cigarette in over 3 months. I’m going to bootcamp. It’s all good, right? And even if I am heavier than I was at the start of the month, at least I’ve been using my Dr Palmer’s Cocoa Butter so my stretch marks aren’t as noticeable and the increased levels of exercise mean that while I’m as big as ever, my bulge isn’t quite as flabby, and is somewhat less unattractive than it can be. I was walking home, feeling positive vibes – life’s going my way- when three young guys cycled past me. One of them shouted “P-p-p-porky Pig” at me and spat. His friends laughed.
And I died a little.
As I do every time something like this happens. And there’s no point in telling anyone about this, because what can anyone do? But hey, at least I have this, my super secret diary. And I can tell my super secret diary all my secrets. This kind of mockery has followed me around for most of my life. And I hate it. Because it makes me hate myself. And because I feel it’s all preventable. If I could just follow a diet, it would all go away. But I don’t seem to be able to, so it won’t.
Anyway, on Tuesday, I had to forget all my troubles, because I got an exciting text from my oldest brother. He was in London, waiting for a plane and he wanted to know if I wanted to call down for the evening. Wo-hoo!
I boarded a train, full of (as the Beach Boys say) excitations. London is incredibly close to Cambridge. It really is only the distance from Ballincollig to Glanmire. I may have mentioned before that I’m an absolute whore for big cities. And I really am. I’ve already seen Paris this summer and I was on my way to London. Also known as “London, baby”. Also known as “that London”.
I disembarked in King’s Cross, mainly known to me as the home of Platform 9 3/4, where the Hogwarts Express leaves from in the Harry Potter books. (My iPhone spellcheck accepts “Hogwarts” but not “Ballincollig”. Maybe Ballincollig isn’t a real place after all.)
From the moment I stepped onto the platform, I knew I’d made it. People were walking faster than they do in Cambridge. Or in Dublin for that matter. People bumped into me and brushed past me without apologising. Everyone was in a hurry.
And people looked odd. I’ve always felt that the British, like the Germans, are OK with looking different. While Irish people, and even more so Spaniards, French and Italians, all try desperately to assimilate, the British glory in difference. In Britain it’s OK to leave your roots grow out. It’s OK to have a purple Mohican in your 50s. It’s OK to look dowdy and yet be middle class. It’s OK to have your belly hang out over the top of your jeans. It’s OK. Especially in London, where there’s an awful lot of ugliness/unconventionality. But that ugliness is beautiful. After the relative conformity of Dublin.
By the way, every time I say London, I mean from King’s Cross Station to the Nando’s around the corner, for that is as far as I went. But it was enough. I just love knowing that I’m in London. That there are possibilities in the air. I realise that the streets aren’t actually paved with gold, but it’s the kind of place where people thought they were. It would never occur to anyone to say that the streets are paved with gold in Clonmel. And that is why London is infinitely preferable to Clonmel. Or Tullamore. Or Ballyjamesduff.
Having been drinking late on Sunday, bootcamping on Monday (with my “crown jewels” “sucked” in) and in London on Tuesday, I was absolutely exhausted on Wednesday. But I was determined to go to bootcamp on Wednesday. Because Wednesday was cheerobics day.
Cheerobics is a mixture of the ancient art of cheerleading and aerobics. I’m not great at exercise that involves jumping up and down, but for some reason, I imagined I’d be amazing at cheerobics.
Regular readers will know that my imagination tends to get carried away. And so it did with the cheerobics. After one hour of cheerobics with the Crap Wednesday Trainer, I imagined I’d be good enough to bring cheerobics, and indeed cheerleading, to Ireland. I’d be a pioneer. I was going to start by founding a cheerleading club in Trinity College. By the end of the year, there’d be cheerleading at every major football, hurling, soccer and rugby match in the country. And this would make me rich. I wasn’t really clear on how cheerleading could make me money, but that was my plan anyway.
It didn’t work out. When I arrived at the gym, Crap Wednesday Trainer informed us that cheerobics had been cancelled because the pompoms they’d ordered hadn’t arrived. While this was an essentially hilarious message, I didn’t laugh. I saw my cheerleading empire fall apart in my mind.
Crap Wednesday Trainer was also devastated by this news and passed the session over to a trainee fitness instructor. He led us through an hour of Tabata, high intensity weight-lifting.
Hence, on Thursday neither my thighs nor my arms worked. On Friday, the pain hadn’t died down much. Sitting down hurt. Standing up hurt. Reaching out hurt. Going up or downstairs hurt. Pushing hurt. Pulling hurt. Opening doors hurt. And taking off my socks just seemed excessive.
In pain, and dreading another bootcamp session, I went for something to eat on Friday afternoon. I often eat before bootcamp. Feeling sorry for myself, and for the pain in my thighs I made a (typically) very unwise food choice. I went to the Co-op and bought a pack of giant chocolate cookies. Giant. I ate them as I walked back to the gym. They were softer and messier than I expected. Arriving just in time, I rushed through the door, trying desperately to lick any chocolate remains from my lips and teeth. I dashed past reception. The trainer greeted me. I said hello with my back to her. I made it to the changing room with its plentiful supply of water and mirrors before facing the trainer, chocolate-free. Phew!
Friday’s bootcamp went well, eventually making my muscles ache less, but an hour’s exercise couldn’t possibly be enough to work off the giant chocolate biscuits.
I am a slowly improving Connor. Which is as much as I need to be.