Tuesday, 29 March 2011

My Dance Space.

Back to Zumba today and I'm quite excited. 

I've been planning an outfit in my head all afternoon, this involves wearing a t-shirt with a big banana split on the front.  Ironic?  Cheeky?  Motivational? Who knows, but it amused me, until I thought maybe this could be seen as rude, and resorted to wearing the purple Nike one from last week. 

Then I stress. Will they think I don't have anything else to wear? Should I change it? Does it matter that at certain angles I think you can see a VPL through my leggings, AND I'm worried my sports bra doesn't fit properly.

Anyhoo its time for the hip popping, arm waving, face pulling, sound effect making hour, and all fashion worries slip my mind as I pretend to be Zumba’s answer to Britney Spears in her heyday. 

But we have a problem, the side effect of press ups, lunges, sit ups, and squats is that I now ache. I have been aching BAD MAN. I have been going down the stairs slowly whilst huffing and eeeking for 2 days, and even though I thought I was Zumba fit - the new song with its Bollywood themed arms and thigh bursting plies is proving to be a new challenge. Every time I have to bend my knees I can hear Vicks next to me suppressing giggles, as this is accompanied by much yelping and puffing out of cheeks. 

There seems to be less knee bending in the next new number which has a real 60s vibe to it and you get to do the monkey which is all kinds of fun, I’m really getting into it and then…the lady next to me. 

She seems very nice. 
She seems to have very long arms and legs. 
She seems to want to hit me with these arms and legs. 

I spend the rest of the class ducking and weaving away from crazy failing limb lady and then hurry home relieved to have escaped serious injury. A revving cup of strong coffee and I’m ready to dream up new Zumba outfits and consider the need for some class etiquette...

So, here is my list of the do’s and don’t’s for the fitness class attendee:

1. First come, first served. If I get to class 20 minutes early to bag my front and centre space, don't you be nabbing it the second I go for a gulp of water.

2. Wearing jiggle bells round your hips does not make you Shakira. It just makes you noisy. 

3. No tutting. If someone goes the wrong way, kicks the wrong leg, waves the wrong arm - so what? It’s dance aerobics not the ballet. We are meant to be having 
a giggle.

4. HOWEVER - if you have no rhythm, no sense of direction and no control over your body, please at least be aware of where you are flinging it!  No one should come out of a class with a black eye. 

5. No talking. So as I said we are there to have fun, but there is nothing more distracting than people gossiping behind you. I never did hear what happened when Terry found Jenny in bed with someone else, because another song started and I missed the juicy bit!

6. STICK TO YOUR SPACE. Has Dirty Dancing taught you nothing?!  My dance space is not your dance space. STAY OUT OF IT. 

P.S. I bloody LOVE playing the imaginary drums on the Gloria Estefan number. 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Motivation through a letter box.

So, by now you'll know I've been on a mad crazy fitness kick! I started this year with a renewed sense of self and the desire to feel proud of it. I wanted more energy, a clearer head and firmer thighs!  I didn't want to blame Nancy's tattoo completely for my love of a long sleeved cardigan!  I have persuaded two friends to join me on my journey into the unknown world of health and fitness.

Struggling today. Have been kept awake all night by Milo the cat who spent the night meowing at a wall (I have two, Ollie and Milo. They are wondrous). I couldn't see what was so interesting about it at 4am but I did have a good look this morning, still not obvious, ah well the world of the cat is a whole other story!  I then had a very annoying conversation with British Gas and am now in a funk.

Fox in a Funk.

Really hungry and the only things in the fridge are randoms, so I end up eating a whole jar of anchovies (mmmm sexy breath) and sniffing crossly at the capers. What are these for? Why do I have them? They do not taste good. 

The whole point of this exercise is so I can eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts and not live on bulgar wheat and spelt. Have you ever heard of two more unappetising sounding foods? I don't think it helps that Gillian McKeith is always banging on about them either. 

I know I should go food shopping and buy bananas but I picture a trolley full of iced gems, and so, instead I scowl at the yoga timetable thinking that I'll have to remove my nail varnish if I want to go. Bitches. 

I take myself out for a walk in the sunshine and hum Beach Boys songs to myself while wondering if I can keep all this fitness up when I'd much rather be on the sofa playing Burger Shop 2 (try it - you will lose hours of your life attempting to get your customers orders correct within the time limit). 

Once home I check the mail to discover two things, that if you believe in signs, couldn't have been more obvious if they'd been stapled to my forehead. 

First is a little card with ZUMBA on it and a web address so I can find my nearest class. I remember the last class I went to.   My utter joy at wiggling away to the music in a church hall full of co-ordinately challenged people, I remember joyously side stepping with an imaginery platter full of tapas and pretending to be a Greek waiter to a plate smashing song  - and book in for the next class.

The second is a new fitness and dance school opening a few doors down from my house. 

Well…knock me down with a feather if I'm not excited by this new prospect and ready to give it a chance! Ballet Fit? Salsa you say? Stretch and Tone?  POLE DANCING?! Ok! Ok I say!

Suddenly I'm struck by the idea of trying out as many different types of fitness crazes, phases and classes and feel newly inspired! I'm jotting down a list which includes snowboarding, rock climbing and I suddenly have a need to discover what 
ViPR is !?

Motivation from Royal Mail – there’s something I thought I'd never say!

Friday, 18 March 2011

It's a Gym Life.

I want to tell you why I left the gym.

I'm not proud of it, but I ran away. I ran away and then paid a shocking amount of money in monthly instalments for a really long time because I was too scared to go back. 

There are lots of scary things about gyms. I'll start at the beginning.

I don't like the turnstiles that you have to swipe your armband through to enter, which then flash up a hideous photo of you for all to see, as you shuffle to the changing room.

I don't like the changing room. All those people in various states of undress chatting about workouts and swimming, and for those of us of a superstitious nature it’s always a tense moment when you can’t get your 'lucky locker'. The one miles away from anyone, which also has to have an even number. Bonkers? Me? Pfft!

Next came the actual horror of being in a gym. The machines, the thumping beat of dance music, the Sky news. The only time I even managed longer than five minutes on a stationary bike was when a particularly good 'Murder She Wrote' episode was on and I just had to find out who the killer was!  

Then came the personal trainer. 

It happened innocently enough. There I was dying of boredom on the cross-trainer, while watching 60 minute makeover with a glazed over expression, when, suddenly next to me, appeared this lithe, spunky, happy person telling me 'it didn't have to be this way', 'we could have fun, and get results super quick'. 

I was seduced by the promise of firm thighs and toned abs. I pictured myself jogging happily in the sunshine, laughing as we did squat thrusts, and sailing through a body pump class without so much as breaking a sweat. 

However, I didn't know she was psychotic. The reality was a food diary where I had to justify each and every calorie, workouts which made me physically sick, and the time when after one particularly hard session, I fell down the stairs because my legs gave out. 

A normal person would have told her to back off, that not being able to walk properly for five days after a session wasn't normal and goddamn it, I NEEDED THAT APPLE YOU BITCH. 

But…instead I became gleefully insolent. I would put 'herbal tea and summer fruits' in the food diary, but I would actually be eating a full English breakfast whilst mentally giving her the finger. It went on and on, almonds were replaced by doughnuts, salads with fried chicken, cottage cheese and celery (bleauhhhh) with gorgonzola and biscuits. 

Eventually I realised how ridiculous all this was and did the only sensible thing. I sent her a text to say I couldn't make the next session, and that I would rebook for the following day, and then fled the area like a criminal. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Woggle With It.

Come on Bootcamp - Let's be 'aving you!

Today is the big day and we try Bootcamp. I am dragging two very kind and lovely friends with me. It’s cold. It’s quite damp out there, and again we have the struggle of not knowing what the hell to wear. Do all women have this dilemma, or is it only me who has a desperate need to be dressed correctly for each activity I do? I envy people who are genuinely comfortable in their own skin. In fact, that’s the point of all this bloody exercise. But first, I need to get the outfit right!

This need isn't just restricted to fitness this is in all walks of life. Whenever invited somewhere new, I will always covertly try and find out what the acceptable 'style' is. and then attempt to top it. I don't know if this is (to quote America's Next Top Model) my lack of 'personal style' or simply my desire to lend myself to each differently styled event. 

For example - as a child I was in the brownies. I didn't like the brownies - all that dancing around toadstools and making cups of tea for people I didn't know, just wasn't my scene.  There was a fun game though, which involved everyone sitting in pairs with legs straight, feet touching with each pair being given a number. When your number was called, you had to jump over all the other legs as quickly as possible, run round, leaping over legs and be first back in your place to win! Very dangerous to the shins as I remember, but lots of fun - health and safety wasn't such a concern then.

Plus I wasn't made a pixie. All the cool kids were pixies and I vaguely remember sitting under a table, legs and arms folded refusing to skip around the frigging toadstool, sing about Brown Owl and chant the Brownie Promise to be kind and nice, till I was rightly installed as Head Pixie and not a lowly gnome. No child wants to be a gnome. Being a gnome SUCKS. 

I also never managed to get a badge that wasn't a birthday one and they give those out to everyone. The point of brownies (I'm sure there are other points, but this is the only reason I could understand at the time) was to collect badges. There was the making old people cups of tea badge, the being able to cross the road safely badge, the sewing badge, the fire safety badge and lots of other fairly easy to collect badges and yet I only managed the birthday badge. Twice.

Clearly the brownies, Brown Owl, skipping, toadstools and those wonderful glittery perfect pixies were not for me but DAMN I had the uniform down. I had the brownie jogging bottoms, the brownie hoodie (in those days we would have called it a hooded sweatshirt) and I even had the brownie baseball cap. Even though my sash was bare, but for two badges with lines on them. I ROCKED IT. 

Brownie Fashion Jessica Fox Style!

Where was I? Oh yes! In a muddy park in the freezing cold on Sunday morning, wearing red jogging bottoms and black hoodie a la Rocky ( thought you'd want to know), whilst a cheeky Scouser gets us jogging on the spot, jumping, touching the floor, jogging again, doing the plank, jumping jacks, squatting, lunging, planking some more and then making us doing something 'they use as a torture device in Chinese prisons. Oh joy! Oh bloody marvellous, I think, as I sit shaking in a wide leg squat, with a pained expression. My face has got to be showing a 10 on the cheeky chappie's scale of 'how much this hurts'. 

But, here comes the magical part. Even though I am huffing, puffing and utterly appalled by how unfit I am, there is the promise that if I keep going, keep pushing, keeping trying…it'll get easier and I'll get fitter. 

Food for thought as I wash the mud, grass and possible dog shit off my red joggers. 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Yoga for...all?

I went to yoga today. My experience of yoga before today was at swanky gyms with swanky people in Adidas. I always felt this was a little sterile for yoga and would scour the internet for a bamboo eco friendly mat that didn't hurt my knees but was still in a pretty colour. 

But this place isn't just a yoga centre. Its a place of tie dye, jingly bells, peace signs and happy little messages in the toilet asking you to 'please not steal the loo paper' but to have a 'happy and fulfilling day'. 

Utterly charmed by all positive thinking, and feeling smug that I had not stolen the loo roll, I skipped down the stairs to the studio. 

But I'd got it wrong. All wrong. I was in sportswear (WITH LOGOS - me? An evil corporate conspirator? Who knew!?) not vests and capri pants in earth tones with ballet wraps as coverups. I made mental note at once that I needed a new yoga outfit before venturing back into this unknown realm but decided to suck it up and just get on with it. 

THEN I put my mat in the teachers place. 

At an ANGLE whilst everyone elses is straight. 

I'm met with scowls as I shuffle my mat into an acceptable position whilst silently cursing it because one end keeps rolling up. I am officially anti hippie, anti eco, never ever grown cress in an egg shell bad person and I felt guilty every time I go into downward facing dog and saw the offending coral colour I'd painted my toes specially. 

Next class I shall have yoga grunge down to perfection and maybe one day (when I find my inner peace) I won't care what they think. Bloody Namaste to you too!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Blame it on the Groupon.

Personally…I blame Groupon.

I'm not exactly sure how it started. I just know that it did. Maybe it was the day I was sat on the sofa munching on M&S extremely chocolately biscuits and decided I better finish off the packet as there were 'only three left'. 

Never Mind I was stuffed. 
Never Mind that there are only six in a packet to begin with.
Very Never Mind that they were 120 calories each.

Or maybe it was the thought of spending another summer sweating in cardigans over my sleeveless tops because I have an obsession over my 'fat arms'. 

Or maybe it was because Groupon had an offer on bootcamp classes. 

Background on me. I'm not fat. I've never been fat. I was an terribly active child and now not so active adult but still fairly slim. As an 18 year old nothing fazed me, belly button bearing tops, short skirts with calf high boots (is that flattering on anyone?!) and anything and everything in between. My confidence would have knocked your socks off! 

Then something changes doesn't it? Suddenly all those sections in magazines about 'hiding your problem areas' get in a little bit. Suddenly I'm looking at my 'problem areas' and an obsession with my legs (did you know the bit from my knee to my ankle was too short?) and a rather mean comment on my 'wrestlers arms' meant shorts and skirt and sleeveless tops were OUT.

Anyway…I digress. 

Enough! I have decided to get fit. I don't want to get thin. I want to get fit. I want my 18 year old confidence back and I want to wear what I want, when I want and I still want to eat chocolate biscuits while I do it Goddamnit!!

Week 1 - Zumba. Anyone else do Zumba? Of course you do! I seem to be the last person in the world to have caught on to this craze and its bloody good fun. I don't care that I sweated, I don't care that I started to have an asthma attack somewhere between a body roll and a chachacha! It was FUN and I feel I have so much more energy that I just want to get on and do more! 

The next day I'm a little achey but I can live with it. I bounce into work feeling more alert than I have done in ages (and thats nothing to do with my fancy new flask full of my fancy new coffee) and entertain the crew by showing them the 'car wash move' complete with the sound effect I have given it. To explain, the move is a stomp stomp with your left foot, meanwhile your left arm circles quickly twice as if waving hello and then one big half moon circle to say 'hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii'. So we have stomp stomp Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. Next we have bopbop. This move involves a big side step while giving the air a bear hug and two little jumps backwards - beeeeeeeaaaaaaaarrrrrrr bopbop. Getit? 

Hmmmm no wonder everyone gives me a wide berth! 

Bootcamp on Sunday and yoga in-between - I'll let you know how I get on!!