The “Gym Membership”

Consider this a watershed: I attended my first ever fitness class yesterday.

My recollections of school PE classes are never particularly bad, except that I hated running. In Katong Convent, the perhaps prosaic exercise of training for the 2.4 km run portion of the physical fitness test was enhanced by the fact that we didn’t run around a track, but along the roads surrounding the school, and Cikgu R (Cikgu is Malay for “teacher”) had a habit of cycling along behind us shouting threats that she’d sit on us if we stopped running. This was no laughing matter. She was huge. Raffles Junior College PE was less idiosyncratic, and had the additional benefits of a rock wall, and sometimes a good view of the male sportspeople of the school training on the rugby pitch encircled by the running track as I panted by longing for death.

But institutionalized exercise aside, the idea of voluntarily subjecting myself to pain and perspiration has never been appealing, not at least until I came to London and discovered that in the context of a drum’n’bass club there is a strange satisfaction you can get from the suffering. And after a while here, I started to miss swimming, which I did do a lot in Singapore (much less sweat involved, or at least it all washes off in the water).

So the next step was the gym membership, which till now I can only refer to in conversation as “gym membership”, with my tone of voice incorporating the inverted commas. After a couple of swims, my pathological Singaporean need for value-for-money started to assert itself. Insidiously, it whispered suggestions of trying out a fitness class or two. After all, they were free with the membership. My vanity also started reminding me that frequent swimming screws my hair up, but I needed to visit the gym more than 5 times a month to break even on the membership fee.

This is why I found myself in yesterday’s women-only Legs, Bums and Tums class, lying on my back with my legs in the air with a rolled-up gym mat between my knees as the instructress ran around the room exhorting us to “SQUEEZE!!!” while a rap song with the insistent refrain of “I got sex on my mind, yeah I got sex on my mind” pounded in the background.

It was pretty good. I think I’ll go back.