Picture the scene: a 17 year old me rockin’ out at the (only) ‘alternative’ nightclub in Bolton, sweating and red-faced, more than slightly inebriated but having FUN above all else. In 1998, my mind was so far removed from the concept of exercise that I couldn’t spell ‘anaerobic metabolism’ and couldn’t care less about what it meant. Yes I was young, carefree and fairly overweight but those who were good at PE – those freaks that actually ENJOYED exercise – had always been the enemy. Antipathy toward physical activity started in puberty, that awkward uncoordinated phase of development which teachers see as the perfect age to make you strip to your gym knickers and run panting and gasping across the playing fields in view of the whole school. I was expected to be good at something by virtue of being taller than most of my peers, but alas it was not to be: I sucked at netball, hockey was a dead-loss, cross country was a joke and rounders was a nightmare (I was always picked last, naturally). The only thing I could do with any conviction was dodge showers in the changing rooms and fake injury during the bleep test… Anyway, you get the idea with that = I am not a natural athlete!
Time passes and I find myself the wrong side of thirty with a child and a ten-a-day biscuit habit. I still have a strong aversion to exercise but I DO have a VCR and a second-hand copy of Jane Fonda’s Workout (c. 1982) from Kirkgate market. Back in the day this had been my first introduction to the celebrity exercise video trend. Many an afternoon I’d sit and eat whilst watching my sister and her friends throw themselves around the living room to Leslie Lillian (who?!) singing the highly motivating ditty, ‘Do It!’ (You can watch this moment on You Tube – try not to get distracted by the jazzy leotards. And cut to: an unhealthy dose of yelps and whoops!) Twenty years later and I still can’t get to the end of that song without grinding to an unsightly flailing halt… though the fact that I now know Jane Fonda’s cloying patter off by heart must mean the routine has had some impact on me right?!
I must find some form of fun physical activity I thought… so I stumbled upon Aerockbics. It offered me a chance to re-embrace my nu-metal sound-tracked youth, minus the stupid baggy pants and chain combo. Aerockbics is a twice weekly exercise class run by Penny Brazier which encompasses aerobic activity and dance moves to punk and rock music = total FUNishment! We’ve all been in a gym right? Sub-MTV music channels blasting out chart hits and far too many videos with airbrushed girls and enhanced adonises rolling around on a beach in a tropical island paradise. Aspirational sure, but also tremendously off-putting when you are seeking the drive to bust a gut on the rowing machine. (Previously the only joy I ever had finding my kind of music in an aerobic setting was doing spinning to new-wave also-rans, Martha and the Muffins at Horwich leisure centre!) After lengthy attempts for find a new PE buddy, I finally convinced a workmate that she would just LOVE to jump around for an hour to punk and rock standards with me and off we went.
As you may have gathered from my extended preamble above, I am no good at team sports/dancing/athletics but (and it’s a positive BUT) this was exercise masquerading as a night out. My second visit was more successful than my initiation; despite actually forgetting my gym kit, I was prepared for the routine of pelvic thrusts, the squats, and crunches and for the fact that no-one would bat an eyelid at me playing air guitar and prancing like a fool. My chance to shine on the sports hall floor had come at last!! I walked away from the class sweaty, red-faced and disappointingly sober, but it had been FUN and I felt worked-out. Seizing up on the way home I reflected that if all exercise classes catered to specific music tastes then a great deal more people would regularly be engaging in aerobic activity. To conclude, if you prefer fist pumping to pumping iron then Aerockbics is the exercise class for you!!
Shoot To Thrill – AC/DC (warm-up)
Kickstart My Heart – Motley Crue
Whip It – Devo
The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
Sabotage – Beastie Boys (squat track)
Woman – Wolfmother
Tame – Pixies (floor track – abs)
Date With The Night – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (floor track – abs)
Slayer – Raining Blood
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
Papa Roach – Last Resort
Waiting Room – Fugazi (cool down)