Since I write mostly about sad or simply controversial things all day--yesterday was devoted to a Facebook ban, Canada's growing euthanasia numbers and the destruction-by-media of a Catholic businessman--I think I will concentrate only on The Happy for this blog.
Early last month, when I was slouched over my desk reporting on The Sad, I suddenly snapped and told Benedict Ambrose that Something Must Change. First I demanded a puppy, and then I rushed off, inwardly gobbling, to an exercise class.
Now I have done 16 bouts of exercise (14 of them in studios), and we will be getting a puppy after we return from a trip to Berlin in July.
The greatest driver of happiness, apparently, are close relationships with other human beings. This is easier said than developed, however, if you move across the ocean from your family in mid-life and don't make any more family. However, exercise and pets are high up on the list of cures for gloom.
Yesterday I took a barre class, which involves ballet exercises, isometric exercises and girly dumbbells. It was great fun and made my quadriceps, already aching from a spin class I took the day before, ache some more. It also made me smile and afterwards to laugh because almost all the other women in the class (and we were all women) were half my age, slimmer, taller and much more beautiful than me.
There were two men, I think, in my spin class, and one or two women older than me. But again for the most part I was at the back of the class marvelling at the elegant spines of beautiful, tall, slim twenty-somethings. It makes me wonder why more men don't take spin class although out of the past I can hear the very slender twenty-something me yell, "Don't encourage men to chat up women in the gym."
I am a world away from the YMCA and the boxing ring in more ways than one, that's for sure. In the 90s and 00s, I almost never took an exercise class because they were still mostly versions of "Aerobics," which meant dance routines too complicated for uncoordinated me.
Instead I ran on the treadmill for half an hour, getting high on endorphins, and then I lifted free weights and pushed on the correct parts of various machines. For a few years I walked two miles and back to a boxing gym up to three nights a week. There I did a circuit of various stations at the gym--heavy bag, speed bag, skipping--while waiting for a trainer or to spar with someone in the scary old ring.
Unsurprisingly, both the weight room at the Y and the boxing gym (especially) were dominated by men. This almost never bothered me although you can bet there were young men aggrieved that I was in the boxing gym at all. One manifested his displeasure by popping in a tape of the most misogynist rap lyrics I had ever heard, but my coach soon put a stop to that. He was as tough as nails, a Cockney immigrant who put up a shrine to the Cray Twins in his gym, but he was also fair-minded and seemed to divide the world merely into fighters and people who could be fighters.
I very much disliked being chatted up at either the Y or the boxing gym, and this happened rather less often than I (now being in my 40s) would expect regarding a woman in her 20s. It was probably because I had the ice-blue eyes and the forbidding expression of a Wehrmachthelferin.
I was also 117 lbs and fit into a Club Monaco size 2. I don't expect ever to be that slim again, but it will be amusing to find out how fit I can become in middle-life.