It has to be said, I’m not one of those woman who feel ‘naked or ‘just not myself’ if I haven’t done 3 days of intense exercise in any given week. Ok, I’m slightly exaggerating with the naked comment, but the latter comment I stand by. I certainly wish at times that I did feel like that, but exercise wasn’t a priority when we were growing up. It’s not an excuse or an attack on my parents, it was just something that was never enforced on us, or talked about in any way. My mother will say ‘if you wanted to do it, you could have’ a bit like the sewing machine that I DIDN’T want for my 21st, so thankfully never got. Only now I wonder if that may have been a good thing. Only Mum doesn’t know about this blog as yet, so she won’t think I’m attacking her parenting skills. My beautiful mum did come 2nd in a Hurdle race back in her days at school, something that she always seemed to talk about, must have been some race. My dad was a cyclist too, and a good one so I’ve heard, from him.
Growing up, I did the usual ‘Ballet and Jazz’ for a few years, not sure why I stopped, probably because ‘I discovered boys’ ??? never really understood that phrase, but mum does tend to pull that one out A LOT. Mind you, my parents never let me HAVE boyfriends, yet loves saying that comment with a roll of the eyes and a smile anyway.Getting back to sport and my involvement with it though, I did the ‘rolling down the hill’ and the skipping around the oval during cross-country, could never do high jump, but attempted long jump and shot put. After school activities were limited to dancing for a while, but then I switched to Pottery classes and would you believe DRAWING classes, where I learnt to draw an apple and a fruit bowl.
I walked to and from school and thought this may have been enough but I soon found it wasn’t. Most of my friends were now doing Aerobics and Water Aerobics (netball on Saturdays) and some were in swimming schools and even little athletics. I had to do something, so I figured Aerobics would best fit my personality. First thing first though, what to wear ? I know, I’ll have a ‘leatard party’ (just an excuse to eat chicken drumstix with french onion dip with your girlfriends and stay up late on a school night).I must have had at least 1/2 a dozen of these parties and then friends had them too, between us we could have started up our own little lycra shop. I had everything, G-strings on their own, then full leatards, matching unitard, short one as well as long. Hair scrunchies to match, glow socks and leg warmers, you name it, I had it. Or if I didn’t my friends did. So, off we went and did the aerobic circuit, St Marys, Rooty Hill, Peachtree and Mount Druitt (OLD mt druitt to be clear, there’s a significant difference trust me). I hated it. I hated that the boys in the gym could see us and it really was a perve fest, I didn’t want to be in the front row, or the back, so I would try and squash myself in the middle somewhere between the girls who could do it so I could copy and then also with the other girls who were more hopeless than myself. When STEP started, forget it. I could not co-ordinate and even struggle even now on the WII. Gradually it became clear that aerobics wasn’t the sport for me, so I thought I would start ‘water aerobics’ this was great and very short-lived, on about my 3rd visit I got a massive foot cramp, and spent the whole lesson plus another hour, in the spa with a very good looking soccer player who kindly massaged my cramp out. I was so embarrassed because I was in my bathers (sorry Sydney Siders, I’m a Perth girl now and no longer say ‘cosies’ ) and felt very uncomfortable. I was with my cousin who was planning a big travel holiday so she was trying to get fit, I think she had to drive me home from memory ! Water aerobics YOU SUCK!
Skip a few years and I started noticing that I couldn’t get away with eating KFC and RED ROOSTER as much as I used to. For some absurd reason, I wasn’t maintaining my weight and this annoyed me. I was working in Parramatta at the time and they had a fabulous credit union. Fabulous because they would ALWAYS lend you money, always.. never minded how much debt you were in, they just made you fill out a form and 3 days later money was in your account. There was a new flash gym that opened up, $700 for 12 months, a womens only gym that promised fitness, health and of course losing weight was a given! Why not.. My girlfriend and I strutted down 1 floor to the credit union, borrowed $1000 ($300 extra so I could buy a CD walkman) and off we went to register. We celebrated by going to the Parramatta businessman Club to get the best hot chips and gravy. We’d start Monday !!
Monday came, and I don’t think I even worked up a sweat. We each had a personal training session, where we talked about ‘goals’. I don’t really remember much about that, but I do remember that my girlfriend and I would get up at 6am, 3 times a week, work out for 1 hour, have a nice hot shower in the change rooms and then get to work by 8.30am, just in time to go down to the CAF and eat some yummy muffins smothered in butter and honey. Not to mention the 3pm MAGNUM run downstairs at ‘smelly george’s. So, the question was ‘why wasn’t I toning up? why wasn’t I losing weight’ ? I didn’t get it. I honestly assumed the weight would fall off. Did it matter that I wasn’t pushing myself ? I was able to hold a normal ‘in’ breath conversation whilst talking about Billy on last nights episode of Melrose Place. It baffled me.
After about 6 months (we gave it a good crack) we thought we’d save money by jogging around Cook Park before work. Save money ?(conveniently forgetting that we already forked out for a full years membership). This lasted about 2 weeks. I hated Running.
12 months later and I moved to Perth. Got myself a Job within about 2 weeks and just my luck, everyone in this office was an ex Perth super star athlete. Ranging from WAFL players to Cricketers. Only I didn’t know this at the time. Lots of sports memorabilia on the walls even didn’t give it away. I should have picked up on it when the Adviser I was working for made me draft a letter to his mate ‘Richard Benaut’ on a new curve ball technique he had been working on. One day, very early on, I was asked by one of the guys working there ‘Hey Jo, do you run’? I had 2 ways of answering really, tell the truth and say NO WAY or just lie and say YES. No one knew me, I had left Sydney with a broken heart and was on a mission to find myself. Yes, I replied (true story). ‘You want to do Jacobs Ladder with me tomorrow then’. Again, another bloody lie escaped from my lips ‘ Sure, why not’. I went home that night (I was living with my Aunty and Uncle while I was finding a place to rent) and asked them WTF was Jacobs Ladder. My Uncle laughed at me.
I found out pretty quickly, that Jacobs Ladder was part of Kings Park. Just a few stairs (about 10,000 of them ) that wound down a very steep and windy path). So I arrived at work with my white as white sneakers that I had had for years, perfectly intact, and I was set to run straight from work. NEVER have I been so sore in all my life. I did it, I’m not sure how or why, or if I even passed out and maybe somewhere along the line someone carried me. I do remember not being able to walk the next day, or the next 2 days and my lovely Adviser kindly asked me ‘did you stretch Jo’ ? Stretch, geez who does that these days? I was a fraud and a fool !
These days I understand the importance of exercise and try to instill that in my girls. We have joined a surf club, the kids ride their bikes and run around whenever possible. I’m a little obsessed about it really, because I don’t want them to become the kid at school who won’t put their hand up to play a sport because they are nervous or embarrassed like I was. I played sports like Newcombe Ball (if that’s even how you spell it) and Volleyball back in the day before that became Beach Volleyball and you have to be able to run around and slam the ball over the net. Volley and Newcombe ball at my school was very different, you had about 100 players a side, no chance of missing the ball. My husband however is a little more relaxed about it and doesn’t want to force the kids to play a sport if they don’t want to. I tried to get my oldest to play soccer but she wasn’t interested, but I’m confident that they will ‘have a go’ at something and that’s all I wish for. They don’t have to be the best, just attempt it and be proud of themselves.
So now I swim when I can, I ride my bike when I can too. I started doing Yoga and loved it very much, until my back became an issue that is. The funny thing is most of my closest friends are sports nuts or enthusiasts I should say. Not only is a beautiful friend of mine a yogi, she also has her own business and is a Yoga Instructor, another wonderful friend is a personal trainer/fitness instructor, my 2 sister in-laws can pretty much ace any sport they attempt, including the odd triathlon, I have a friend in Sydney who is a netball player, (who just recently I hear may be slowly coming to the conclusion that it’s a crazy thing to be playing?) another friend who is a swimmer/jogger/touch footy player/crazy woman who sets her alarm an hour before she needs to so she can go into her cold garage to run 10km’s on her treadmill’, and there’s little old me ! Thankyou to all of you for loving me for who I am, and not for my sporting abilities ! I’m proud of all of you and especially your commitment to sport and in general being as healthy and as fit as you can be.
It’s not too late for me. Jacobs Ladder was sadly destroyed a while ago, due to the floods in Perth.. we’ll sadly never know if I could have attempted that one again.
As for myself and 2 sisters. I say ‘Lets stand strong girls’, we would put on ‘concerts in the lounge room’ like no ones business !