Once long long ago a lovely Jewish Princess decided to be fashionable and do Pilates. It was very difficult for her and she needed many fairy trainers to follow her from one exercise to another because she couldn’t remember what exercise followed what, or what position she should take. After doing this four days a week for almost a year, she decided she might try to lift more than her Harrods shopping bag and went across the street to the gym. There she found a handsome trainer, and so it went on until she became fit, in fact she was so fit that her cancer cells grew along with her muscles and she finally reached the point where they grew so large that she could exercise no longer. The cancer cells won.
So after taking to my bed for a very long time I reemerged closer to a frog than a princess, but ready to fight another day, and began again on the long road to fitness.
I put on my sneakers, excuse me trainers, and the same outfit I wore on my last Pilates’ foray except that my t shirt had shrunk.
A journey of a billion miles begins with one step, I thought as I did my first work out, if you can call it that. I’m going to try to do it every day until I bore myself to death. My breathing was supposed to be like bellows going in and out; bollocks to that I say. I’ve signed up for ten sessions and will come back again tomorrow. One hour of breathing can only help when ne thinks of the alternative.
Feeling much fitter after my session, I took a slow walk to the Serpentine (a lake in Hyde Park about fifteen minutes from the Pilates studio) and contemplated throwing myself in the lake or taking out a row boat. The row boats looked huge and forbidding, so I walked back to the car and getting into the spirit of the new regime I drove the five minutes to my flat and took a nap (not before lunch).
Still wanting to be fashionable, I think the sport for me is ping pong. After a couple years of cancer, operations, radiation and chemo I can’t walk very far but I can still stand up. I think if you can stand up, you can play ping pong on some level (actually people even play in wheelchairs).
Ping pong has officially become fashionable. The Standard Hotel, fashionista hangout in Miami Beach, has installed ping pong tables in one of their restaurants. I haven’t played there yet, but I did play the table outside the Serpentine Gallery in London last week. Our trendy London mayor supported ping pong installations all over London this summer. Between cycles and ping pong he is determined to make London healthy.
You don’t need a trainer and unlike golf, it doesn’t take the whole day and as far as I know there is no handicapping system. I played with an old friend Martin who is twenty some years younger and a million times stronger than me. We’ve had a few ups and downs in our friendship and I have to say I enjoyed smashing the ball across the table at him. He didn’t expect my aggressiveness after seeing me as bed ridden for most of this year. I might not have won but I enjoyed the fight.
At the Standard hotel in LA LA land they broadcast the residents’ tournaments in the bedrooms. I must remember to call the BBC the next time I play.
The next time I played (Serpentine again) I was clobbered by a ten year old. So much for life as a ping pong pro.
As you may have read, when you are trying to get into shape you need a plan. Here is mine:
First I’m going to do ten Pilates sessions, and then a weekend of Qi Gong. Qi Gong is really easy at the level I do it. You get to act like an animal and jump around for as long as you can, and no one notices if you leave early. It is the stuff you do before Tai Chi but I can’t remember the forms so forget Tai Chi. I will also do some gyrotonics which sounds really athletic. It is really just light stretching on a fancy machine which looks complex but again at my level it is easy.
(How about ping pong Pilates? Breath in ping, stomach contracts, breath out pong and so forth.)
Second… well never mind that. At 71 the exercise plan goes no further.