So, encouraged by the whole family and a few sideways smirks from others, I found myself at Letterkenny Town Park on Saturday at 9am, limbering up for my first ever outdoor gym session – the Urban Gym.
When it comes to gyms, there’s a whole new lingo you have to learn.
Circuits were something to do with the Donegal Rally. Boxercise was what happened on the Diamond in Donegal Town or the Main Street in Letterkenny around 4am of a weekend morning.
Skipping? Well girls do that, don’t they?
Then there’s gym gear.
EVERYONE wears gym gear these days, whether they go to the gym or not. It’s become the dress code of a generation.
People wear trainers – and never ‘Just Do It’!
Trendy in cities like New York, Paris, London and now Dublin, the idea of Urban Gym is to take the ultimate work-out into the open.
The sun was beating down like it was the south of France and I was introduced to Michael Black, the man who was going to put me and nine others through our paces.
He was setting down cones in the grass in the centre of the park and the further away he went to place those cones, the more it filled me with dread.
The class began with ‘warm-up exercises’. By the time they had finished (five minutes later) I was absolutely exhausted. My heart was jumping out of my chest and I was gasping for air.
There were things called lunges, sprints to a cone and back, star jumps (haven’t done those since I was five!).
Michael was very enthusiastic about it all, in a very military sort of way. If the Libyan rebels want Gaddafi out of office any time soon, they should give Mr Black a call.
I grabbed my water bottle and was too out of breath to drink from it. The session had yet to even start.
Circuits followed – so-called because just like electricity circuits, they zap the bleedin’ life out of you.
This involved around ten exercises done in rotation. There was boxercise, where you hit a punch bag for all you’re worth. There was skipping; jumping from cone to cone; press-ups (someone please call an ambulance!), chucking a mini medicine ball around and lots of other things involving cones, running and more jumping.
Each exercise lasted 30 seconds. Except, I noticed Michael didn’t start counting until you thought you were finished.
A couple of team exercises followed. One involved running sideways; another involved sprinting up steps, though, I was caught taking four steps at a time.
Then it was back to the dreaded circuit; each exercise taking 40 seconds this time on Michael’s imaginary watch.
I appeared to be the only one actually wearing a watch and this was turning into the longest hour of my life. Four times Michael asked me what time it was. Four times I told him it was 10 o’clock!
The hour did eventually pass. The first Urban Gym was completed with a 550-metre run/sprint/jog/crawl around the town park. I just about beat the 3 minute mark.
I was elated. It was over. I had completed a gym session (albeit with a struggle) and I finally got what the buzz was about.
I bounced all the way home. It was my first ever legal high.
I decided I’d keep my gym gear on because I DESERVED to continue to wear it and I planned an afternoon hiking around the fields beside Fanad Head lighthouse.
I was full of energy; delighted with the buzz gleaned from the morning outdoor gym.
Then as I finished my afternoon walk at Fanad Head, I jumped over a wall and sprained my ankle in a fall.
This is proof folks that an hour at the gym doesn’t turn you into Superman.
My jogging and exercise plans for a few days are ruined. I’m hobbling around the house like an extra from a Hammer Horror movie!
But I’ll be back next week (sober again) at 9 o’clock at Letterkenny Town Park. I’m already looking forward to it. Hasta la vista gym bunnies!