"Do you have hypermobility?" said the Pilates teacher.
I suppressed a snort, thinking about how, now the nights are drawing in, I am thusly withdrawing to the sofa and the only mobility likely to be expressed for the next 6 months will be through my knitting needles.
"I walk quite a lot," I said. Though I think this isn't the kind of mobility she was talking about.
"You have very good hamstrings," said the Pilates teacher. "Very good flexibility."
Well, I thought. That's promising. And also ironic, for a vegetarian. Flexible hamstrings.
I admit I was feeling slightly anxious going into my first Pilates class on Friday. Partly because I haven't been to an organised group exercise session since I left school more than 3 decades ago, and partly because I was feeling unhappily self-conscious with the whole 'wear something snug fitting - your Pilates teacher needs to see what your muscles and skeleton are doing' dress code. Good luck with that, I thought. I had opted for leggings and a quite short T-shirt and I looked, to all intents and purposes, like a semi-deflated balloon. You know, pushing a bit tightly against the clothes in some places whilst managing to look dubiously saggy in others. But I kept reminding myself that over a year ago I was of considerably heftier build, so the reflection in the full length mirrors in the dance studio where the class was taking place could have been a lot, lot worse. Also, I reminded myself that I am almost 50 and therefore past caring.
Anyway, there were only six of us in the session, four having cried off the first week with, I must say, some dubious-sounding excuses. And one of the other Pilates gang had brought her mother with her, who regaled us with lurid stories of her prolapse.
Which led to the first session being very much pelvic-floor based. We, variably, connected with /engaged with / located and centered our pelvic floors. There was much coy giggling about pulling up and drawing in. And, after being told by a midwife after I had my first baby that a good pelvic floor exercise was to stop-start-stop-start peeing on the loo, I discovered on Friday that this is now a big no-no. Apparently, it causes confusing signals 'twixt bladder and brain. Do I need to pee? Don't I need to pee? Who knows with all this stop-start-stop-start malarkey?
I have been exercising my pelvic floor wrongly for the last almost 30 years. I am surprised I am not trailing a dribble of tiddle in my wake.
Anyway, the hour went quite quickly. I was under the illusion that Pilates was supposed to be done in relative peace and quiet, which was one of its big draws for me. However, another of the Pilates gang chattered at length about her new exercise class, something called 'shredding', which is basically a high-impact aerobic class done to frenzied night-club music whilst waving glow sticks(!?) and it sounds like hell and an open invitation to a tinnitus flare up. No danger of me 'shredding,' that's for sure. Now shut up, will you? I am trying to co-ordinate breathing with moving.
I think I shall like Pilates. It is slow, thoughtful and controlled. It leaves no huffing, puffing or sweating. It may even help further deflate my balloon.
Yesterday, Grandpa Andy and I took the granddaughters to the Kent Wildlife Reserve at Sevenoaks. The weather was lovely, the waterfowl were out in force and all in all it was a good way to spend a few hours. Who needs expensive theme parks when you can arm a five year old with a set of binoculars, a bucket for collecting naturey bits in and a picnic, and she's happy as Larry? Even Elizabeth joined in, roaring around in the birdwatching hides, yelling 'Duck!' at everything that looked vaguely duckish, and eating spiderwebs (But don't tell her parents that last bit.)
It has been lovely weather today, too. But that tell-tale mist was here first thing - the kind that my Gran would have announced the morning thus to be a 'proper hopping morning.' (Not hopping as in 'up and down on one foot.' The kind for harvesting hops in. You know, because we are in Kent.)
So I guess Autumn is officially here now.
Bye bye, Summer!