I was never considered one of the athletic girls at school. I was thin, athletic-looking, very strong and very eager, but not quite enough. Not by comparison anyway. I remember this set of identical twin girls who were incredibly sportive, took every game very seriously and were the queens of track and field. They would win multiple gold medals on sports day and were well admired.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t. Even though I do believe that I had serious potential in that avenue, it was never particularly explored. We only had physical education twice a week. For 35 minutes because we needed 5 minutes before and after to change back from our tracksuit to our uniforms. If one wanted more, you would have to do so on your own, privately after school or in the summer holidays. 

In my summer holidays I went to the school of art to perfect my drawing and painting skills. Which was wonderful. It was what I wanted and loved. That being said, it never occurred to me or my parents for that matter to enroll me in a sport. It probably would have done me a world of good and would have exposed me to another world besides the arts.

And there really was potential. Every year for sports day I would take part in what they called a ‘fun race’. I would dawn a potato sack and jump for 60m in it to the finish-line. And I always won. I always got the gold medal for that one. And even though it wasn’t considered a serious race, you need an immense amount of strength to hop your way through 60m and win.

And now to the present. I am 33 years old and I really understand the importance of being active. It is seriously what prevents you from growing old. I go running quite regularly and I have a cross-trainer at home.

But what I really love doing is taking classes. There are so many wonderful and weird fitness classes out there: Zumba, pilloxing, trampoline fitness, pole fitness, Bollywood fitness…you name it and it exists. There is even a class where you are suspended in mid-air from a harness.

So today I tried gentle Pilates. You follow an instructor do an array of stretches and push-ups and weights while keeping your tummy muscles taut with the aid of a massive inflatable ball. You climb over it, balance on it and try not to let it roll away.

Basically, you gracefully dry-hump a rather large beach ball for an hour.

And it is a proper workout. I was sweating and everything. I am sore all over. I know I am going to pay for this tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by the new-agey connotations that come with Pilates…do not think that you are simply going to relax and breathe and inhale a wheatgrass smoothie while gently stretching a tricep here and there. You are going to perspire and have sweat-pools under your breasts and around your crotch. You are going to look stupid with a huge, orange spherical object between your legs which you are desperately trying to balance on and not allow to roll away in equal measures. You are going to sprawl on it too, on your tummy with your butt in the air while you try not to roll forward and break your face on the parquet.

If that was gentle Pilates, I wonder what rough Pilates is like…maybe they line the balls with metal spikes.

And as I type this post in bed, soon about to retire for the evening, I wonder what aching fresh hell awaits me on waking.