Feel the burn

385790_570111252999244_1479566480_n (1)I don’t know what the word for ‘confused’ is in Latvian but I know what it looks like. An Irish girl in a Latvian exercise class.

You’ll spot me easily enough. I’m the one going left when everyone else is going right; breathing in when everyone else is breathing out; sitting up when everyone else is lying down.

Having decided that the gym proper wasn’t for me – it hurt my eyes (see above) – I started working my way through various classes in order to find one which was right for me. If there was an Eastern European girl’s body struggling to get out of my Irish one, I wanted to give it a fighting chance.

So I started with kick-boxing, thinking it would be some kind of aerobic kick-boxing and nothing too strenuous. I realised my mistake when three massive muscle-bound Russians walked in. The instructor (an ex-kick-boxing champion) walked in next and started shouting at us in Russian. Unable to carry off ‘Oops, silly me! I’ve gone and walked into the wrong class!’ in any language but English, IΒ dutifullyΒ started trailing the three man-mountains around the hall, punching the air, kicking, dropping and giving him whatever number he demanded and whipping myself repeatedly with a skipping rope.

After around 30 minutes, I was exhausted but after a little hide behind a pillar, I vowed that if this was as bad as it got, I could cope with it for another half hour or so. I emerged to find the three giants putting on shin-guards, gloves, helmets and inserting mouth-guards. After a terrified look at the instructor (and a fleeting glance at the door to see if I could beat them to it), he sort of smiled at me and brought over a kick-boxing bag for me to practise on instead.

After demonstrating a few moves, he left me to it and so, while the three behemoths beat the living daylights out of each other, I punched and kicked with as much gusto as I could manage. Until I heard a knuckle crack. Assuming this would be my ‘out’, I showed the instructor my rapidly swelling hand. He showed me his knowing look that screamed ‘weak Westerner’. Of course, as an Irish girl, the last thing I wanted to appear was Irish and girlie so I punched and kicked some more. But, although I think he was actually quite impressed with me (and my black and blue hand) in the end, I decided that that was my first and last foray into kick-boxing.

After a couple of other near disasters, notably a weight-lifting class (see above) and a very painful yoga class, I finally decided on ‘Pilates Ball’, ‘Body Architect’ and ‘Ab Destruction’. If the classes are in Latvian, I’m alright. My Fox Crime vocabulary actually comes in quite handy – things like ‘on the ground’, ‘legs apart’ and ‘hands in the air’ are not only useful in arrest situations.

If the instructor switches to Russian, I switch to ‘time delay’ mode. I have to watch everyone else for a few seconds to see what’s happening… then start. Unfortunately, by the time I’ve figured out one exercise, everyone else has moved onto the next. But just to make me feel as if I’m not a total failure, the instructor cheerfully yells ‘SMILE’ at me in English every now and then.

I obediently smile until I make it to the changing rooms. Then it’s all business. My mission is to try to get in and out as quickly as possible. I decided during my first visit that I would never be using the showers there. No cubicles or curtains, just shower heads sticking out of the wall – prison style. My Irishness says no. The only things I change in the changing room are my shoes.

Dodging the suddenly gregarious naked Latvian women isn’t so easy though. Acquaintances suddenly decide that this is the perfect moment for a chat, while I look at the floor, the ceiling, or longingly at the door. Unfortunately, the way is usually barred by several others perusing the posters or notices on the wall. I don’t see why the ‘Make sure you check in on Facebook’ sign is suddenly so captivating. It’s not like they’ve got their mobiles on them. I’ve seen more of some of my fellow gym-goers than I’ve seen of myself.

Finally, feeling a bit like Indiana Jones, I make it out of the changing room and back to the safety of my flat. Until the next time.

Latvian girl’s body, if you’re in there, can you come out now please?

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About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Fitness, Humor, Humour and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Feel the burn

  1. Helen says:

    Oh my God, those showers look like the ones they had in my school, they were hellish then too!

  2. nancytex2013 says:

    OMG…you kill me. And I get it on the change room behavior. I never shower there (home is 5 minutes away…why would I shower there??), but one time, many years ago, I showered at my then gym because I was on my lunch break from work. As I was just finishing my shower and applying my body oil on my still wet skin before toweling off, this naked chick comes right up to me, pokes her head in my shower stall and says, “OMG that stuff smells so good, what is it??”. And then, upon checking out the Neutrogena Body Oil, she proceeded to touch the wet and oiled skin on my thigh to see how soft it made me.

    We were both naked.

    I grabbed my towel and got the hell out of Dodge.

  3. Jude says:

    You can’t swim?!

  4. Oh, if that happens I’ll definitely come and see, or maybe even join you and we can share a joke of never happens which came true πŸ˜‰
    But you better stick to saunas with pools for cooling off for the starters – frozen lakes are only good if one can take a lot of heat in sauna, and personally i cannot stay in a hot sauna to get meself ready for a jump, and the only time I did dare doing that I’ve felt the cold and if done properly one should not feel cold but only cooling effect in frozen lake or rolling on snow

  5. Sometimes during winter months I go to this post-Soviet style pool, because compared to normal ones it is very very cheap. But, and there’s a huge BUT there, showers are almost an exact copy of those in your picture, and I hate them too. Anyway, I’ve found out that working out only works for me if I’m on my own. It’s in my nature that I always try to compete, and if I’m the one who’s lagging I get frustrated, but even more frustrated I get if those other are slower. And as exercising should be about letting off some steam, go figure – I’d better be my own cheerleader πŸ™‚

    • Expat Eye says:

      So that’s why you’re out jogging in the snow! I bet you don’t meet too many other joggers in this weather! And yes, totally understand about the showers! Nothing in the world would make me get in there!

      • Oh, actually quite on the contrary, there are plenty of joggers, cross-country skiers, etc. out there πŸ™‚ While it’s not too cold (and too cold for me is like below -15 C) or too slippery, jogging in the snow is quite fun and in a way even a lot easier than when it’s really hot. Before I started jogging, I used to think just like you that jogging outdoors during winter months is something of ‘thank you, but NO’ series. Some 4 years ago if some one told me I’m to start jogging myself, I’d have laughed out loud at the very idea, and look at me now πŸ˜€

      • Expat Eye says:

        Maybe 4 years from now I’ll be running around naked and jumping in freezing lakes! I doubt it though! πŸ™‚

  6. Liene says:

    What sport activity you did before coming to LV? Maybe try the same πŸ™‚

  7. It’s JUST a body and shower… πŸ™‚

  8. Linda, I do not suggest you Bikram then as well, because of showers. It’s quite “soviet” style, but actually – why to be ashamed of what God has blessed us with (I mean body) or to feel disguested about others? Just let it flow. :))) I suppose, you haven’t been in Latvian “sauna” as well where mostly ALL people are naked, I could introduce you to that. πŸ™‚

  9. traveller says:

    I feel you. Unfortunately, I’m not yet feeling the accomplished belly dancer coming out of my body (any gym activity here ends up being a free style belly dance contest).
    I guess I just need to give her another eternity.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Oh god, freestyle anything scares the bejesus out of me. I like songs that have set dance moves – YMCA etc. At least that way you can’t go too far wrong! Good luck with that!!

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