“That’s right,” says the personal trainer, “just a bit further back. Maintain your balance. Roll on the ball. Back, back, back… Oops!”
The scene: one very big, very green, very squishy ball. One very big, very pink, very squishy woman. And one very blonde, very skinny, and very embarrassed personal trainer.
She hooks her hair for the umpteenth time behind her perfectly formed ear. “It’s all right, Joyce. You’re all right. Pick yourself up and we’ll start again.”
They’re doing something called ‘core stability’. It’s Very Important, says Tracy the trainer. Without it, everything falls to pieces. Not literally, of course. It’s just that without core stability, you’re not very… what’s the word? Oh yes, stable.
So Joyce flops back onto the green ball and starts again. Meanwhile, I’m just doing the good old unstable things: jogging on the treadmill, stretching, and using weights. Works for me.
Gyms are the ultimate fad forums. Protein. Carbs. No protein. Well OK, protein and carbs. Creatine. HIIT (high-intensity interval training, for burning fat). Pilates (which seems to me to be a bit of yoga, a bit of stretching and not much else). Body combat. Tums & bums. Bishram yoga.
And now core stability. A couple of years ago, I’d never heard of it. Now, it’s everywhere. It seems to be especially important to people who are on the chubby side. Maybe it’s because they’re in imminent danger of falling over – especially the women, face first.
But is all this larking around with psychedelic earless space-hoppers really necesary? I doubt it. In fact I’m sure of it. I’m occasionally tempted to speak my mind – not the best idea, given my history of verbal gaffes. But really, they need to be told. Get off that ball, get on to the treadmill, and don’t get off until Easter, I’m tempted to shout. And lay off the pizzas, you blubbery gutbucket.
But I don’t. Instead, I merrily watch as Joyce space-hops this way and that, a human blancmange and a marvel of self-deception.