So, the day after the last Pilates class, I took up the challenge and attended the Legs, Tums & Bums session. Aware that my outfit is neither state-of-the-art nor quite this season, I tried to blend into the background, but there really is nowhere to hide, since the walls are lined with floor to ceiling mirrors. The ladies in the class are not all perfectly formed, but they are at least stylishly turned out. Maybe I should enter into this more wholeheartedly by investing in some proper kit. I have a notion to get down to TK Maxx, since I lack the confidence or experience to enter a real sportswear shop although, on reflection, I can see that even this plan has the potential to turn farcical at my expense. Maybe I could take advice from a personal shopper.
Teacher herself has a gammy leg, and kept rolling up her trouser leg to show off the apparatus that keeps her knee from falling apart. I told myself to stay calm. Perhaps she had fallen down the stairs, and all this exercise was supposed to make it better. Nevertheless, I took good care not to put undue pressure on my knees when she wasn’t looking. The good news is that there is another man in this class, so Teacher can use the term ‘guys’, and I don’t feel like I’m being singled out. The bad news is that the other guy has a pony tail, and is a yoga expert who can touch the floor with his nose while sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him. He assured me that it comes with experience. Why do I get the feeling that everyone is being nice to me? Even the Russian girl, whose blank expression normally seems to say “you don’t exist in my world”, nodded at me when I greeted everyone with a cheery “hello” at the beginning of the session. Perhaps she is getting used to the idea that I am now a part of her world, whether she likes it or not.
OK, the outfit is only the start of my woes. Exercises which are specifically designed to improve muscular tonality of legs, tums and bums are also, by definition, inelegant. If I had any modesty, I would really not be posturing like this in public, in front of those mirrors, and in a pair of floppy, baggy, pyjama pants and a grey T shirt which rides up over my belly and soon gets visible sweat patches in odd places. But hey, it’s not just about me. I begin to get over it when I catch glimpses of the others. They may all be dressed in snazzy outfits, but they don’t all look as serene as Jane Fonda. So I press on, comforted by the thought that no one is about to whip out a camera and post me on Facebook.
After the exercises, came the choreography. This is a complicated set of movements involving a plastic step. The idea is to dance a series of preordained routines which include jumping onto and off from the step. Mr. Ponytail has this off to a tee. Mr Wonderman is finding it difficult. Jumping on and off the step is not a problem but, doing it in the right sequence and in time with the music is another matter. Its mastery must involve months of concentrated rehearsal. Teacher is preoccupied with what must be her only pleasure left in life - selecting suitable tracks from her music collection. But she still finds time to look at me every so often and give me a weak smile and a thumbs-up sign.
At the end of the session, as we roll up our mats and stack up our steps, Mr. Ponytail smiles (or was it a smirk?), Mrs. Russia stomps off, and Teacher speaks no more of Merce Cunningham. I am left with a sort of grim determination not to give up, and resolve to attend the next session, although I am having second thoughts about wasting money at TK Maxx.