BMF paid for session 2 happened in Saltwell Park, Gateshead. Gateshead isn’t the prettiest of Northern Borough’s; that is, until you visit its park, Saltwell Park. Amongst many other useages it is one of the settings for BMF training. A place right and fitting, a place chosen by the British Legion a place for remembrance.
We wear different bibs according to our level of fitness, blue for beginners and the generally unfit, red for improvers and those of medium fitness and the greens those who are fitter and experienced.
I think of myself as a seedling. A seedling in the park and think of all kinds of romantic metaphors of how my fitness levels will grow. A tree. A rose. A bandstand. A daisy. Truth of it all is there’s nothing particularly romantic about the sweat and the tears of BMF.
So we start the session with some jogging and touching the grass with various parts of our anatomy; forehead, elbow, hand, knee. Why does he have to be so quick? I have barely done one touchdown before another is instructed. I cheat, out of necessity and skip the forehead instruction. He sees it and shouts it out to the whole group. I giggle. I need to be more cunning where my short cuts are concerned.
We have to run to a tree and touch it; I knew it, bunch of tree huggers after all and I giggle even more as I reach to touch one of the park’s many trees. This is no laughing matter Joanne. I know, I know, I just have to laugh at my incompetence in order to make the session bearable. I think about the after effect feelings that I like. The relaxation, the endomorphine natural happy high and Oh! Yes when the pain stops.
I am a seedling. Yes I am and something triggers my memory again. What is it with BMF that makes me feel childlike? Did you ever do primary school drama class where you had to grow yourself up from being a tiny seed in the ground and unfurl into a grand shrub or tree of sorts with your branches waving in the air and standing on your tippy toes, to be the biggest and the tallest and the greatest you could be. This is what I am thinking of as I dodge the punishment burpees for failing on the Simon Says exercise. Honestly, if I could do a decent burpee I would, honest.
The tall skinny bloke in camoflauge combat trousers told me confidently as an aside at the end of my paid session 1 that it would take a month to get me ‘fit’. I think he must be an optimist. I am so breathless I can’t muster any verbal objections and I think ok, whatever you say. Me, ‘fit’ in a month, that’ll be the day. I don’t doubt his camoflauge trouser opinion on this, the doubts are all mine. At the end of session one, I wonder at the monumentously stupid thing I’ve done in paying up front for this kind of hell.
Miraculously I am back for session 2. We jog over to the Victorian mansion which has banks in a mini moat effect around it. He calls this a ‘cheeky’ hill. Oh! God! This isn’t going to be good. Dread and trepidation fill my Ortholite trainers and we run up and down, up and down, up and down. It’s a scorchingly sunny day and the sun is baking my face and my blood vessels. I kneel down. Tell them I feel faint, which I do, and am given some water.
Breathe, he says. Good idea, I think. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Now if I had felt faint in primary school, I would be allowed to sit it out, right? Shortly after my short time out to breathe we have to do one legged burpees. Oh! For Fucks Sake, you can not be serious. I can’t even do a two legged burpee never mind a one legged one. I cheat outrageously. It doesn’t go unnoticed. I giggle at the increasing level of my incompetence.
We run. Again. Gradually I start to feel annoyed. Just generally annoyed. Try and get to the front somebody urges. You can not be serious, I silently reply. Then, suddenly, as if by magic, a random green bibber grabs my hand and runs with me; I wish I could be grateful, but I’m not, they don’t seem to understand that my body is now only capable of doing one thing at a time. I feel like it’s a choice between running and breathing. Somehow I keep running.
The hour session must be getting into its eighth hour or so, please God let this be over. Just kill me now and I’ll become an angel and do angel’s work, as long as it doesn’t involve running. I get praise from tall skinny camoflauge combat trouser bloke. Genuine praise. I have done well. Despite it all, I am still breathing and the paramedics weren’t called. We stretch. I find a piece of shade, lean against the tree for support, (tree hugger), stretch my thigh and feel the sweat of a scorching work out. I made it.
The seedling has surprised herself and astonished the world.