James Predicts The Future

James Proclaims (4)

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It’s not like me to use misleading titles for my posts.

Apart from when it is.

And I fear I may have done just that today. Because this post is not going to be me attempting to predict the future in a humorous way, which is probably what the title implies.

Nor will it be an attempt to make any serious and thought-provoking predications based on the evidence of current world developments because this isn’t that kind of blog and I’m woefully underqualified to do that.

Being woefully underqualified is not always a barrier to me attempting to do things. It is essentially a trick I’ve been playing on my employer for many years.

Nonetheless, this post is an homage to a different post I wrote.

Because what is more compelling than a blogger blogging about other stuff he blogged about?

That question was rhetorical. I don’t need you to answer it in the comments. Unless you can answer it in a way that is funny. Then go for it. Often the best bit about my blog is the funny stuff that other people write in the comments section.

Anyway, the post that I’m referring to is the one I wrote on the first day of the year, which I cleverly entitled ‘So You Say You Want A Resolution‘. You should probably go and read that now.

Are you back? Or did you just not bother to go? I’m not the boss of you, you don’t have to go and read it if you don’t want to. It might help you to understand what I’m going on about in this post. Then again it might not. In summary, it was my tongue-in-cheek predictions for the New Year, but honestly it’s uncanny how accurately I predicted the horrors of 2020. Because how could I possibly have known about coronavirus back in January?

Ok, I know it was a thing even then, and some people were predicting it would become a pandemic, but I just assumed that being, you know, British, we were immune to such things. I thought it was written into our constitution. I know we don’t actually have a UK constitution, but it’s surely still implicit that Britain doesn’t take part in pandemics. I blame the EU. It’s just a shame that Brexit didn’t come sooner really…

Anyway, I didn’t predict an actual pandemic as such. But I did write the following:

“I mean it’s obviously only just begun, but I have a feeling that 2020 will be a year like no other.

Call it 2020 foresight if you will, but I predict that the year to come will be one that changes everything.

But obviously not in a good way.”

So, you know, I was pretty spot on if the popular media is to be believed.

Anyway my solution to the end of the world was going to be to get into shape “so that when Judgement Day arrives, I can be the grizzled, cynical, but ultimately kind-hearted hero that the world needs me to be.”

Now while that was obviously me just having a bit of (as it turns out quite misguided) fun, it was also a roundabout way of saying my New Year’s resolution was, as it is most years, to get a bit fitter. Not that I’m entirely a stranger to keeping fit, but I’ve always been a bit inconsistent with how committed I am to the cause. And I’m certainly no stranger to a pie. Or chips (you can interpret that as either the UK meaning for chips or the US version – I like both kinds). Or ice-cream. Or beer. Or pretty much anything that’s fundamentally bad for you.

So I could definitely have done with being a bit more committed.

Which, to be fair to me, I was for January and February. I went to the gym quite a lot in January while I was waiting for an ear infection to heal sufficiently to return to my swimming routine. And, in February I returned to the pool and as has been documented occasionally on this blog, I started running a bit.

Then the pandemic hit and the swimming pools closed. So I was only able to do the running, which I did stick to, but, as has also been documented, I’m not really very good at running.

Recently the pools re-opened, so I’ve been able to avail myself of mine for the last two weeks. And it has been going swimmingly. I’m still running, I’m still quite bad at running, but, because I’m swimming again, I don’t have to go running as often, which seems to have resulted in me being less bad at running on the days I do it.

So it would seem that I am ticking along nicely, if unspectacularly, in my quest to be a bit fitter

Except that…

…this is a bit awkward really but…erm…

…I maybe haven’t been as honest as I could have been on these pages…

Generally it’s in my nature to be a little self-deprecating. I’m not one for bragging.

And I really am bad at running.

But I haven’t just been running for the last few months.

I have actually been doing some other exercise. Stuff like press-ups and burpees and some quite horrible things involving a kettlebell.

And even though I did carry on working, I did have slightly more freedom with regards my working hours so I generally found time most days to fit in a workout.

And I appear to have accidently become genuinely quite fit. Honestly, no-one is more surprised than me that this has happened. I mean I still have a diet akin to that of an unsupervised toddler in a sweet shop but nonetheless, I do appear to be burning some of those excess calories.

And if the world does need a post apocalyptic hero in the near future, I’m definitely more qualified than I was in January.

I mean, it’s probably still better if we don’t have an apocalypse but I’m just saying, if I’m needed to save the world, I’d be happy to give it a go.

 

 

Lose Weight And Feel Great In Three Simple Steps

James Proclaims (4)

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Hello, I’m James and this is my latest post on a blog I like to call James Proclaims.

It’s not really a blog about weight-loss or fitness, although occasionally I have used my own lacklustre attempts to improve my health and wellbeing as the basis for some of my posts, which for the most part are meant to be amusing rather than inspirational.

I can’t tell you how to lose weight and feel great in three simple steps. I doubt there are three simple steps. Assuming you have no underlying medical conditions, if you eat healthily and do a reasonable amount of exercise you’ll probably be fine. I don’t think there are any obvious short-cuts, but I’m no expert. I don’t wish to dismiss how difficult it is to eat healthily and do regular exercise either – I find both to be soul-destroyingly difficult. Nonetheless, I think that is the only route that will yield results.

Obviously if you’re a regular visitor, you’ll have probably worked out that the title for the post was a continuation of a theme I started last week, when I decided to write a post with an obvious click-bait title to see if it attracted more people to my blog. I mainly did it for a laugh, but I also learned a valuable lesson. Which was that writing click-bait titles that have little or nothing to do with your post does actually work, if your sole goal is to attract more visitors to your blog.

And to be fair, although I did acquire some new ‘bot’ followers, I also did get lots of comments and engagement from real people. I was unduly rewarded for my Machiavellian ways and it was a busier day than normal over here at James Proclaims Towers*. Certainly, busy enough for me to try the same trick again this week.

Last week’s click-bait title was specifically pitched at other bloggers, and ultimately, although my post did not help anyone to generate additional followers for their blogs, the post in question was at least about the whole concept of blog followers, so hopefully none of my new visitors left feeling hugely short-changed.

It would only seem fair, then, to dedicate the rest of this post to the topic of weight loss.

But that does seem a bit boring.

So, I’m not going to do that.

 

*I’m trying out ‘James Proclaims Towers’ as the new blog nickname for my home. You obviously don’t know what my house looks like, but if you did, you would know that ‘James Proclaims Towers’ is hilariously ironic.

An Overly Long Post About An Underwhelming Return To Running After Quite A Few Years Of Not Running

James Proclaims (4)

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Note – I started writing this on Sunday, but didn’t get around to finishing it until today. So every reference to ‘today’, with the exception of the one in the previous sentence, actually refers to Sunday. Not that it matters, but I’d hate for you to feel in any way deceived.

 

Today, according to my bottom-of-the-range GPS watch, I ran my second best time ever for a four mile run.

Of course one could deduce that I have, in fact, only run four miles twice in my life and today I was slower than the last time I did it.

This is not entirely true.

But it’s also not exactly untrue.

In my twenties, particularly a golden period in my mid-twenties, I could knock out a four mile run fairly effortlessly, and much more quickly than I managed today. Indeed, back in my twenties I used to run half-marathons on a pretty regular basis and on three occasions I actually managed to complete entire marathons. Technically the third was the day after my thirtieth birthday but, to be fair, the training took place while I was still in my twenties. I began my thirties in pretty good shape but it really was the start of a decade of my life when I mostly seemed to be committed to undoing all of the good work of the preceding ten years through a combination of poor dietary choices and watching too many box-sets. Although ‘The Wire’ was excellent. It’s not really relevant to this post but I can’t overstate how good that show was.

Even in my twenties I was never especially quick, but I could run for quite a long time. Nonetheless, I was almost certainly quicker than I am now.

Unfortunately, back then, I didn’t own a bottom-of-the-range GPS watch, so I had no way of tracking my performance stats when I was training. I don’t even know if such devices existed back then.

I own one now though and I’ve had it for about three years. I didn’t initially buy it to keep track of my running. Frankly, after that last marathon in 2009, I thought I’d pretty much given up running for good. It wasn’t my intention to give up but life just kept getting in the way, as life is often prone to do, and I’ve never been especially disciplined when it comes to fitness. I did briefly come out of ‘retirement’ in 2014 to run a half marathon. I did very little training and somehow completed the distance, in an admittedly lamentable time, through a combination of misplaced confidence and presumably an element of ‘muscle memory’ from my earlier endeavours.

That last half marathon was a grim experience though and I had no interest in doing it again.

But in 2017 Mrs Proclaims and I started doing quite a lot of walking. It started off relatively modestly, but we went out most weekends and we were pretty soon clocking up twenty-plus miles on our outings. So I bought the GPS watch to keep track of our progress. Alas, it had rather less energy than we did and it would frequently run out of charge long before we completed our perambulations so it was, essentially, useless.

However, in the winter of 2017 Mrs Proclaims and I had to curtail our ambitions regarding walking, due to the forthcoming arrival of Little Proclaims. Also it was winter and walking long distances is rather less fun in the winter. But we knew that, all going well, by the time the weather picked up, Mrs Proclaims would be in no condition to complete the kinds of distances we had been walking and, whether capable or not, was hardly likely to feel inclined to do so.

I have generally tried to maintain an acceptable, if not exactly impressive, level of fitness, so I’m certain I did still do some sort of exercise (albeit in an ‘on and off’ fashion, as is oft my way) throughout Mrs Proclaims’ pregnancy, but it did not tend to involve any kind of running.

However, it did occur to me that our forthcoming lifestyle change, and in particular the additional costs of having a child (which I still, even with my most pessimistic calculations, managed to woefully underestimate), might render gym membership a luxury I couldn’t really afford. So I thought about taking up running again. Because running is, if nothing else, free.

And, in April 2018, I went for a run.

I didn’t expect it to be especially easy, but I was ill-prepared for quite how horrendous the whole experience would be.

In the end I completed a mile.

A single, solitary mile.

Which would be all well and good. Not the most ambitious of beginnings, but something is better than nothing. Except that I didn’t run the whole mile. I actually ran about 40% of a mile. And then I had to stop because I was in agony. I completed the rest of the distance through a combination of walking and painful short-lived attempts to reignite the run.

It was a pretty humbling experience. I didn’t expect to be able to run a 10K on my first attempt, but to not even be able to manage a mile did seem a spectacular fall from the giddy heights of my youth.

I needed to urgently right this wrong.

For the next eight days I ran (or attempted to run) a mile every single day. And I did improve. By the end of those eight days, according to my cheap GPS watch, I was actually able, if I gave it my all, and didn’t mind collapsing in a breathless heap at the end, to run a mile at roughly the same pace as ‘most men my age’.

I’ve no idea how the pace of ‘most men my age’ was calculated, but I’d hazard an educated guess that it was ‘most men who decided to part with their cash to purchase a similar device to mine’, so it probably wasn’t the most accurate calculation. Still, I was quietly pleased, in eight days, to have improved from that pitiful first effort.

And in order to build on this success, I promptly gave up running again.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself spending a lot of time in hospital. The birth of my daughter, was not a straightforward affair and while Little Proclaims thankfully came out of the ordeal relatively unscathed, Mrs Proclaims was not so lucky and was in quite a bad way for a few days. My wife and new-born child were not discharged for the best part of a week, and while I did occasionally venture home to sleep, I was mostly there with them. But they were both asleep for quite a lot of the time, so I spent some of that time reading. And, although I mostly tend to read novels, my attention span was somewhat lacking during that week, so instead I found myself reading some of those collections of newspaper columns that comedians like to repackage as books around Christmas time. One such compendium was by Charlie Brooker and it was a pretty good way of taking my mind off what was a very surreal and stressful situation (my wife’s long term prognosis was actually pretty good, but she was really not well for those few days in hospital, which was hardly the ideal introduction to parenthood for either of us). Anyway, one of the recycled articles in Charlie Brooker’s book, was about how he, despite not being someone who particularly enjoyed ‘keeping fit’, had taken up running regularly by completing one of those couch to 5K apps.

And I thought to myself, if Charlie Brooker can do it, then so can I. Although he has also forged an extremely successful writing career on a variety of platforms, and I, despite often claiming I would like to do that, have never come anywhere close to making that happen. So I’ve no idea why I thought Charlie Brooker’s achievements should serve as a baseline for my own ambitions.

Anyway, once my wife and daughter had been discharged from hospital, and after we’d had a few weeks to adjust to life as parents, I downloaded the same running app and started running 3 times a week. And I really enjoyed it. As is no doubt the case with similar apps, the programme starts you off very gently so the first few weeks were eminently manageable, particularly for a man who could run a mile at roughly the same pace as most men his age. And after five weeks or so I was building nicely towards a regular running routine.

So obviously I gave up again.

To be fair, being a new parent is exhausting enough and there were a lot of other irritating things like ‘having to go to work’ and ‘thinking about but not actually writing my MA dissertation’ that were getting in the way too.

After a few weeks of complete inactivity, I did take up swimming again, which is a form of exercise I much prefer. Even that was a bit stop-start for a few months, but once I’d finally put my MA dissertation to bed I did invest quite heavily in the swimming and by the time my daughter’s first birthday rolled around, I was relatively fit again.

So much so that once again I started running. I didn’t bother with the app, I just decided to try and run 5K straight away, and although it was pretty miserable and painful and even though I was still pretty slow, my recently acquired swimming-induced fitness meant that I was able to do it. This time I kept up a routine of running three times a week.

And I lasted an entire three weeks before again giving up.

I stuck with the swimming, which I much preferred and that did seem to be enough to keep me in relatively good shape until November when a series of ear infections kept me out of the pool until the end of January.

If you’re going to stop exercising regularly, then the period between November and January is not ideal.

And although I was able to return to the pool, my GP advised me against swimming daily, as I had previously been doing, because she was obviously getting fed up with constantly prescribing antibiotics.

So in February I started running again, alongside a much reduced swimming regime. But after the excess of festive food and a lack of training over Christmas, I decided once again to turn to the app in order to try an establish a manageable routine.

And much like before I quite enjoyed the first few weeks because they really aren’t that strenuous. But, by around week five, I was starting to look a little shaky and was fairly convinced that once again I’d be ditching the running and risking further ear infections by upping my time in the pool.

And then a certain pandemic happened.

And suddenly the swimming pool was closed indefinitely (and indeed still is) and running was all I had.

So I stuck with it and completed all nine weeks of the couch to 5K app.

And on the last day, I expected the little voice in my ear, the one that had been encouraging me for all those weeks, to make a bit more of a fuss than she actually did. But there was no pomp or ceremony. The app gave me no closure. It was almost as if it was an emotionless piece of software.

However, I had achieved the goal of running three times a week for nine weeks.

But, during that time, the entire world had taken up running. So I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to continue. After nine weeks I didn’t really enjoy running any more than I when I started, and in any case, I particularly dislike running when there are lots of other people also running.

Nonetheless, I dusted off my GPS watch for the first of my post-app runs (having previously decided that none of the app-inspired runs needed to be recorded for posterity).  I expected to see a vast improvement from my August/September running pace and lo and behold, I discovered that I was , if anything, even slower.

But I suppose the app did instil a routine because I completed it some time in April and I’ve stuck with my three-times-a-week running schedule for a while now.

I’m a little bit faster but it’s certainly nothing to brag about.

The agonising pain seems to have gone though, which seems like a good thing.

I’m still a long way off even thinking about running marathons again.

But this morning I ran four miles for the second time in as many weeks. And four miles is better than no miles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So You Say You Want A Resolution…

James Proclaims (4)

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Ah 2020. What a year.

I mean it’s obviously only just begun, but I have a feeling that 2020 will be a year like no other.

Call it 2020 foresight if you will, but I predict that the year to come will be one that changes everything.

But obviously not in a good way.

There appear to be quite a lot of mad people in charge of the world at the moment. More than is normal or sustainable.

Nations appear to be divided and political rhetoric is becoming increasingly divisive and inflammatory.

Oh and according to the Extinction Rebellion, who in spite of their name, all seem to be quite nice middle class people that we can trust, the environment is shot to pieces.

So, it seems only reasonable to assume that the world, as we know it, is going to end in 2020.

In which case it seems fairly pointless making any New Years Resolutions.

At least not the usual kind.

I mean I should still probably commit to some kind of personal growth, because if my devotion to bad action movies tells me anything it’s that there will be some kind of life post the apocalypse. It’ll be a kind of dystopic wasteland but life will go on.

And, on the off chance that I survive the forthcoming Armageddon, I’m going to need to be in better shape than I am now.

So in 2020 I’ll be hitting the gym. But not in some vague attempt to improve my fitness and health as might seems sensible for a man of my age. Nor is it some misguided, vanity-driven attempt to recapture my rapidly disappearing youth.

No, I’ll be hitting the gym so that when Judgement Day arrives, I can be the grizzled, cynical, but ultimately kind-hearted hero that the world needs me to be.

But, on the off chance the world doesn’t end, I will at least have improved my health and fitness. And possibly prolonged my rapidly disappearing youth.

And while I’m waiting for the End of Days, I might try and blog a bit more often than I did in 2019.

And possibly cut down on my caffeine intake.

And maybe do a bit of decorating because the old homestead is looking a bit shabby.

And perhaps watch a bit less TV and read a few more books.

But all of that is academic.

Because the end is clearly nigh.

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

 

All That Twitters Is Not Trolled

James Proclaims (4)

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As part of my never ending quest to be able to have my cake and eat it, and then have another slice of cake and eat that too, I have recently taken up swimming.

I mean I had swum before, I used to do it quite a lot as a child, and then for a brief period during my early twenties, but in recent years I have done very little pool-based exercise.

This is mostly because of a lack of pool in which to do that exercise.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of them about, but swimming pools often have erratic opening hours, which don’t fit in with my requirements.

Also other people tend to use them.

Which is a problem.

I love swimming. It’s probably my favourite way to burn calories. It doesn’t even feel like proper exercise  – I find it quite relaxing, almost therapeutic, as I glide through the water, thinking about all the guilt-free cake I’ll be able to consume once I’ve finished.

But ideally I would always have the entire pool to myself.

I really don’t like sharing with others.

It’s a problem that I have in many areas of my life, but it’s particularly problematic with swimming pools.

I think it’s because, during the aforementioned period in my early twenties when I did quite a bit of swimming, I often had the entire pool to myself. It was a serendipitous combination of that particular pool having quite generous opening times and me having a low-paid job with antisocial working hours. I might have been stuck at work while others were in bed, but it did mean I had a lot of free time when others were working their more sociable 9-5s.

And the pool was often quiet when I was free.

And I got used to that state of affairs.

But these days I work the same hours as the vast majority of the rat race and so  when I want to swim, others also want to swim.

And this means I have to share the pool with them.

If I could guarantee I would at least get a lane to myself, I could probably tolerate others in the pool, but even this modest luxury is rarely available.

So for most of my adult life I’ve exercised in other ways, even though I’d prefer to be swimming.

It’s my own fault, a character flaw I need to address, but one I struggle to overcome.

However I have recently discovered a not-too-expensive facility which doesn’t require a huge deviation on my journey to work, and at this facility, if I get the timing right, I rarely I have to share the swimming pool with more than one other person.

Unfortunately to get the timing ‘right’ I have to get there quite early.

As in 6am early.

Although this is clearly madness, in most respects there has been little in the way of significant change to my daily routine, but I have been starting my daily commute  with a slightly different radio show playing in my car.

For the last few years my radio station of choice has been Radio 4, and I mostly listen to the Today programme on my way to work. This is a predominantly news-based show – Radio 4 does not play music. I don’t listen to Radio 4 because I particularly want to keep up-to-date with current affairs, it’s just the latest stop on a nomadic radio journey I’ve been taking since I decided I was too old to listen to Radio 1 anymore. I did continue listening to Radio 1 for a few years after I outgrew their target demographic (which is 15-29 I believe) but there came a point in my early thirties when I knew I had finally become too old  – and that’s because it started to really get on my nerves. I tried Radio 2 for a bit, but while I find some shows on Radio 2 tolerable, it does try and be all things to all people which means it’s only occasionally in line with my particular tastes. As with all people who think they’re cooler than they really are, Radio 6 is probably my natural home, but that’s an exclusively digital station which can’t be picked up on my exclusively analogue car radio.

So Radio 4 it is for now. The Today show is perfectly tolerable, it never hurts to know what’s going on in the world, and, depending on what time I get out of work, the drive home usually offers up something interesting too.

But the show that’s caught my attention on my recent early morning drives to the swimming pool, is charmingly anachronistic.

It’s a short emission called Tweet of the Day. The first time I heard it, I presumed it was referencing the giant social media behemoth that so dominates the news these days.

But rather than offering up the latest moronities from the POTUS, or the pithy views of other social commentators, Tweet of the Day is a show about birds. Actual birds. And the sounds they make.

Which is really quite a nice way to start the day.

Just One More

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“Just one more,” is my mantra
As I near my breaking point
Just one more and I can rest
And ease my creaking joints

Breathless, broken, sweating
An hour of constant pain
At the end of which I wonder
What exactly do I gain?

The answer comes soon after
I pick myself up off the floor
And crack open the biscuit tin
When it’s never ‘just one more’…

Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 2 – I Just Kept On Running (Or I Did For A While And Then Gave Up…)

James Proclaims (4)

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Part 2 of my confessional about how I’ve become a less interesting person over the years and it is time to focus on a perennial lie on my CV – the claim that I enjoy long distance running. To reflect that fact, this is a longer-than-usual post. A marathon of a post if you will. Don’t say you weren’t warned…

I’ve never enjoyed long distance running. I can’t think of anything I’d rather avoid than running of any description to be honest.

I’m not built for it for one thing. Until settling in the town of Reading in 2013, I led something of a nomadic existence. I’ve lived in a few places in the UK and I even lived for a few years in Paris (more of which later). The one thing that moving around means is changing GPs. And every time you change GP you have to go and have a medical. Consequently, no-one is more aware than me that I am, according to my BMI score, obese.

It’s a horrible word, obese. I often wonder if it’s specifically designed to make you feel bad about yourself. Cos if someone describes you as obese, then you’re going to want to do something about it aren’t you?

And I would, but I think it’s fair to say I’m also quite fit.

I’m no Olympian but I do exercise a reasonable amount. Continue reading Stuff I Used To Do But Don’t Do Anymore (Or How I’ve Become A Less Interesting Person Over Time): Part 2 – I Just Kept On Running (Or I Did For A While And Then Gave Up…)

James Complains About Healthy Eating

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Much as it pains me to admit it, I’m already too old to ‘live fast and die young’. It’s no longer a goal I can achieve. So instead I’ve decided to ‘live at a moderate pace and die quite old’.

In order to ensure that happens I’m going to start making sensible choices about my lifestyle.

I already do a reasonable amount of exercise. I’m no fitness fanatic. I certainly don’t live by the motto ‘no pain no gain’. In my humble opinion there is much to be gained from experiencing no pain. Continue reading James Complains About Healthy Eating

James Reviews a 16kg kettlebell

If like me, you have a track record of buying home fitness equipment and not really using it, then this 16kg kettlebell is just what you’ve been looking for.

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Unlike that enormous weights bench, which sat in your parents’ garage long after you left home, this kettlebell is relatively easy to transport. A cautionary note, it does weigh 16kg, which is quite heavy if you’re travelling on public transport, but it will fit easily into the smallest of cars, which means that relocation shouldn’t stop you from keeping (and not using) your kettlebell forever. Continue reading James Reviews a 16kg kettlebell

James Complains About Monkey Monkey Monkey

You’d never know it to look at me but I’m reasonably fit. Not athletic you understand. I have no actual ability when it comes to sport, but when it comes to taking part there are few people as gifted as me at ‘making up the numbers’.

I’m even a member of a local gym. Sometimes I actually go there.

Continue reading James Complains About Monkey Monkey Monkey

Way Of The Sloth

James Proclaims (4)

Last night I did Kung Fu. It’s not unusual for me to do this on a Thursday night. It’s when the class is.

I say I did Kung Fu, the instructor may disagree with my assertion that what I did last night was Kung Fu. He may, in fact, suggest that what I was doing was waving my arms around in the air, vaguely imitating his actual Kung Fu, much like a toddler or a well-trained monkey might.

I’ve dipped into martial arts on and off since I was a child. In my time I’ve sampled Judo, Karate, Tae Kwon Do and now Kung Fu. I’ve become proficient at none of these. .

Indeed, I’m increasingly aware through regular training, that I’d be pretty useless in a fight. Which is good, because if you realise that you’re not good at fighting through doing martial arts, then it suggests that you don’t get into fights in real life. Which is true for me. I’m basically an upstanding citizen and all-round nice guy. Mainly what I get out of doing Kung Fu is a regular commitment to keeping fit twice a week and the opportunity to expand my social circle. And without Kung Fu it’s doubtful I would put much time into either of these pursuits.

My Kung Fu class is exactly what I was looking for at this stage in my life. It’s well taught, the group is friendly and some of the excessive formalities of other martial arts classes I’ve attempted are notably absent. I didn’t choose the class for any of these reasons however. I chose it because it’s a three minute walk from my house.

Over the last (almost) year that I’ve been doing Kung Fu, I have noticed a significant improvement in my general health and fitness, and it’s a great way to manage stress.

The warm up is a bit of a killer though. I’m still getting used to that. In my defence I am asthmatic and even with medication it can rear it’s ugly head.

Still it was a little unsettling last night, when, after a more vigorous warm up than usual, the instructor looked at me with genuine concern and said:

“Are you alright James? It looks like you’re having a coronary…”