05 Feb Peni’s Pilates
If you read last year’s blog from Bedar you may recall my surprise at discovering, in this modest little pueblo, a gym packed with exercise machines, weights, punchbags and mirrors, reverberating to the chest-thumping beat of workout music and offering various fitness classes. My blog piece, Bedar Boot Camp (25/1/16), expounded on the many grunts and groans I uttered and aches and pains I suffered along with several other women of a certain age when we exposed ourselves to the irresistible but merciless Maggie…..
….Whom I then discovered wasn’t called Maggie at all. At the time I felt bad about my poor attention to detail, eventually forgiving myself this lapse in concentration, which I attributed to my brain being briefly and brutally starved of oxygen so that the muscles could dig deep. As I later found out, she was called Penny. And I have discovered this year that she is, in fact, Peni (pronounced Penny) – I don’t know why but it may be something to do with local usage as I have also discovered that Maggie, whom I thought was Penny/Peni, is a real person who sometimes attends the classes but is actually called Maggi (pronounced Maggie), Not to be confused with a brand of stock cube originating in Switzerland, I believe.
In any case, leaving the etymology aside, once again and happily I have submitted myself to Peni’s demanding but wonderfully invigorating regime of what might best be described as Pilates Plus. Challenging, invigorating, health-giving, addictive – it’s better than ever. Or is that a function of my increased enthusiasm born of a sense of urgency as the years pass and I race inexorably towards my State Pension? Who knows and whatever, I’m enjoying it. Last year I signed up for a weekly session; this year it’s three times a week – two sessions in class (Tuesday and Thursday) and, on Mondays, a one-to-one where my corporeal idiosyncracies can be addressed – tweaked, pushed, and prodded
It’s hard but it makes you feel great afterwards, that surge of oxygen reaching far into the muscles and the sense that you’re just a centimetre or two taller than you were at breakfast time. You stretch and hold those flexing and extending exercises, feeling the burn. Planks, roll-ups and roll-downs, bridges and cats, crunches and criss-crosses in a steady, unrelenting stream with accompanying music. All of them are tough but doable – in contrast to those exotic yoga positions with the whimsical names that flexible an annoying people do, apparently effortlessly. Peni is the ideal teacher. Tall, strong, well-built, sufficiently ample and ‘normal’ to make you realise that this is not the pursuit of perfection and a bit of effort and discipline will pay dividends. Her long limbs are perfect for demonstrating what you need to try and do and her enthusiasm is infectious.
The classes, despite her warm welcome, excellent Spanish, her links into the community as a long-term resident here, are a study in the demographic divide. I feel sorry about that. But perhaps it’s not just that expatriate thing, not just a national/ cultural issue but also an urban/rural one. I am reminded of the old crofter, Charlie, whom we knew on Skye. He would never have dreamt of going for a walk in the hills and thought we must be mad to want to trudge for miles in what was effectively a huge circle! Maybe that’s how the local people of Bedar feel. A gimnasio? Not for the likes of them. So, we are all expatriates though not all Ingleses (plus the Scot). There is one super-flexible 60-something from Hamburg who joins the contingent of women from Blighty – Blightesses, one might say. Ironically, she is one of the few people with whom I can practise my Spanish. She’s lived here for 12 years and is pretty fluent, so that our shared language is Spanish and after class we can catch our breath and still our beating hearts over un café – que bueno!