I am, by my very nature, a quitter. Hear me out here. I start things and I don’t finish them; it’s WHAT I DO. Just ask my mother, and her wasted extra-curricular term fees (again, mum, sorry about the horse-riding. I just really liked those snazzy velvet hats).
That’s by the by. The point is, I rarely complete activities that I start. God knows I’ve tried to quit motherhood a few times, but those little fuckers keep following me, demanding Le Snacks and Pop Tops. One day I’ll shake them. I’m the same in queues. I’ll queue for ages and ages and ages, silently fuming, and then get THIS close to the front and go FUCK IT, and stomp off with my incomplete purchase. I genuinely do this. It’s weird. I did the same thing at university. Got to the LAST SEMESTER of a three-year degree and went, na, fuck it, and pissed off to London to work in a record store. There I’d have stayed (although probably not stayed, because chances are I’d have quit that, too), if my mother hadn’t threatened to forcibly drag my sorry white arse back on to a British Airways jet and back to the hallowed corridors of Curtin University, where I did, in fact, complete my nonsensical and entirely pointless Bachelor of Arts.
And so, it is with complete and unequivocal surprise that I can announce that I have – somehow – completed my training, and am now a qualified, professional Bodyattack instructor. As with everything I undertake, this began on a whim. I’d moved house, and moved gyms, and my new gym didn’t have many Bodyattack classes, because of a lack of instructors. So I did what every normal person does in that situation: I shrugged and said, “Oh well, I suppose I’ll have to become one then.” I was sitting with my friend Emma at the time. “You should do it too,” I said, and she did, because I can be very persuasive when I want to be. “You do it you do it you do it you do it you do you do etc etc etc,” while poking her in the arm with my finger.
Man, I thought it would be pretty easy to become a Bodyattack instructor. A little bit of moving, a little bit of grooving, a little bit of shouting, a little bit of pouting and bob’s your uncle, you’re up on stage, strutting your stuff.
That was my first mistake. Fuck me, the training was hard. It took a year – A YEAR – to finally get my certificate, the one that lets you get up on stage and shout at people. A year! I never anticipated it taking a year. I thought maybe a week, tops. But no, a year, and many, many dollars on top of that. So many fucking dollars. At each stage of the process – and let me tell you, there have been many, many stages to this process – I considered quitting. I considered quitting the first time I was presented with choreography notes. Emma took one look at them and went, yep, eight beats there, 16 there, hop, skip, side shuffle, twirl. To me, it was Greek. I couldn’t make head nor tail of it. Even at the first training weekend, under the guidance of the king of all Bodyattack instructors, I couldn’t fathom it. My left foot moved instead of my right, my arms flailed when they should’ve flung. That was the weekend that Ben got sick (like, real sick), and I had to call it quits to go and be by his hospital bedside. Ben apologised, a few days later, for ruining my Bodyattack dream, but I was, like, “Na, kid, it’s alright, I was spectacularly shit. I don’t think Bodyattack’s for me.” I took it as a sign, to be honest.
But, for some reason, I carried on. I carried on, thinking, I’ll just do this next bit, and then I’ll quit. I started my Certificate III in Fitness, and it was fucking hard – way harder than I’d anticipated – with questions about anatomy and shit – and I just kept thinking, I’ll quit once I’ve done this. I’ll get my Cert III and then we’ll call it a day. But I finished my Cert III – with its ridiculous fucking gym simulation (search for me on YouTube if you fancy a laugh; my assessment is there in GLORIOUS FUCKING TECHNICOLOUR) – and signed up to do a second weekend of Bodyattack training, thinking, I’ll quit after THIS bit.
I don’t know why, but something clicked on that second weekend. The trainer – the same trainer who’d seen me stumble and fumble on my first weekend – asked what was with the newfound confidence. I shrugged and said, “I dunno, what’s the worst that could happen?” And that was it, I suppose. My eldest son had nearly died three months earlier as I’d gallivanted across that same stage like an uncoordinated donkey. Perhaps my priorities had changed: this wasn’t a life-or-death situation anymore; it was simply something I’d probably quit in due course anyway. In any case, I sailed through, and it was on to the next stage: a 12-week mentoring programme.
This was in October, or thereabouts. The 12-week mentoring programme – in which you teach Bodyattack in a REAL-LIFE CLASS SITUATION, under the guidance of a pro-star mentor – filled me with abject horror. I decided that, on the whole, I did not want to be filled with abject horror, so I said, yeah, na, I won’t bother thanks. But Emma – now a fully qualified instructor herself – and Paul – my esteemed husband – said JUST FUCKING DO IT, although Emma probably didn’t say that, on account of her being quite a well-mannered individual. So I just fucking did it.
There were highs and there were lows in the 12-week mentoring programme. The low came as I tried to teach a Sunday morning class after Ben had had a sleepover with mates the night before. I hadn’t slept, I hadn’t had breakfast, I couldn’t remember actually arriving at the fucking gym. I stood on stage, feet hips distance apart, abs braced, shoulders back, hands on hips, and my mind emptied. Or rather, it scrambled. I couldn’t think of words. The words had gone. The moves had gone. I fucked it. I may as well have directed the entire class out of the fucking door while doing the conga, it went so fucking badly. That was a bit of a wake-up call, and after that, something clicked (again) and I kind of found my groove. Turns out, I like shouting at people, ideally from a safe place where they can’t shout back. Or hit me.
The final stage in the certification process is a video of you teaching one entire class. It sounds straightforward, but understand this: IT IS NOT. Every side step, every tuck jump, every toe point, is critiqued. The words you say, the way you stand, the position of your hands as you highland fling – it all comes under intense scrutiny, and it’s a three-strikes-you’re-out system. Literally. I decided that if I failed the video – which was highly likely, let’s be honest – then I would quit, end of story. Bye bye Bodyattack dream.
Surprisingly, I did not fail. I passed. Four weeks after sending in the video, I received an email that said PASS. Yeah, my lunges didn’t extend quite far enough back, and I slumped a little on the tuck jump, but on the whole, yeah, I passed.
This means, of course, that I’ll be coming soon to a Les-Mills-certified gym near you. Which is weird, because I never thought I’d get to this stage, but it turns out that completing shit is quite good fun, when you set your mind to it. Who knew?
And listen, the point is, if I can become a fully qualified Bodyattack instructor - ME, a two-left-footed, light-headed numpty - then you - YOU - can do anything. Go do something! And report back!