February 13, 2008 | Ronda Jambe

In the bosom of the ladies’ gym

On this Valentine’s Day of 2008 may I take the opportunity to wish you love. If romanitic love is not on your doorstep, perhaps that more diffuse emotion of social well-being is within your domain. This may consist of no more than an absence of malice. In the aftermath of the historic apology to the Stolen Generation of Aboriginals, I hope such feelings are expanding, for all our sakes. Truly civil society is a form of love, I am here to tell you.
cosmos for gym blog.jpg
Comfort comes in many corners of one’s life. Something as humble as a daily trip to the gym can be a source of reflection, pleasant pride, and monotonous security. Isn’t security almost by definition, monotonous? I find the blandness of Canberra to be mostly a source of security, as long as I don’t have to lock horns with career bureaucrats too often.
The gym I attend is called Bulges, and serves as a sort of boot camp for women who can’t get through the door at Contours, Curves, or the French franchise La Volupte. Most of those who attend, including myself, would benefit from losing the odd 5 kg. (Vanity compells me to note however that at 65 kg I am hardly the biggest bus in the depot.) Most of the women are well over 40, and one comes in with a walking stick. All are welcome, and the intensity of activity is up to the individual.
The pattern is reliably constant: a set of machines that operate hydraulically, so that there is no frantic pressing of monitors or rushing to keep up with electronic screens. You jump into the circuit and use each machine for just 30 sec. In between there are 30 sec recovery pads, where you can jump, punch, swing, poke, jiggle, or do high kicks. I favour the high kicks, after doing some damage to my knee with the jumping. So I have calmed down and keep my heart beat in the active but not thumping territory.
Once you go around twice, you can do stretches. All up it takes me 40 min, and if I also bike or walk there, another 20 min for the round trip. It makes me feel refreshed, if not quite righteous.
The beauty for me is that you don’t need to attend classes as such, but can drop in at any time. You just join the circle and watch the other bouncing bosoms and enter the conversation if you care to. (Unfortunately my bosom is too small to do any noticeable bouncing, but my brain is a D cup.)
Apparently they tried this circle approach out with a men’s version, but it didn’t resound positively. The men didn’t like being face to face in an equitable circle; perhaps there was no opportunity for showing off. Maybe they just didn’t like the implied social setting, where smiling and idle chatter help pass the time. There is no appreciable grunting among the women.
Instead, trivia such as children, or grandchildren, jobs, the weather, maybe the garden or cooking. Last spring I brought in oodles of cosmo seedlings, naughty exuberant things that had sprung up in my veggie beds, and offered them on wet newspaper to the ladies on Saturday mornings. Like all gardeners, however incompetent or humble (that’s me) I relish knowing that seeds are being spread, and may prosper under other hands.
This particular gym is relaxed, the staff are friendly and know all the hundreds of women who flow through by name. They will ask after absent women, and express concern if someone is sick or has had to leave town on family business. I try to keep the conversation light, as there are some areas of my life that need to be free of the heavy stuff. That way, too, I can maintain a persona that is positive and sometimes get a laugh. Like when the discussion turns to men, and I raise of my theory of the driven and the dragged…which I may elaborate on here in the future.
Nearly every week someone asks if I used to be a dancer, due to my combination of movements from Horton technique, ballet, yoga, and Pilates, with a bit of preventive physiotherapy thrown in. Mind you, no one has ever asked if I AM a dancer, but I can handle that.
It has taken a long evolutionary path for my life to be stable and sensible enough to enjoy the quiet pleasures of such settings. As I grow older I have come to value more the inherent gentleness that I feel from most women in my society.
The news is full of grimacing African faces with machetes, or (an Australian trained) psychotic who would murder a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or insurgents taping bombs to women with Down’s Syndrome for remote explosion. In the clean, simple, kind company of women similar to myself, I can’t help but ponder if anything on this planet could ever bring my surroundings to such a state. Could our men ever attack their neighbors?
As a hopeless intellectualiser, I muse on this absence of malice, the atmosphere of low demand and high support. I see the Golden Rule in operation, the fundamental basis of stable societies everywhere, obvious and yet often overlooked in our pursuit of novelty and complexity. From this neutral yet self-protective stance flow transparency, mutualism, equity and even a less exploitative view of other creatures and natural resources. Who is asking the King Penguins if they are willing to sacrifice their species to our lifestyles?
The book I am reading now, about the Feminization of Nature, opens with a quote from the novel Children of God. You may have seen the movie, with the great actors Clive Owen and Robert Carlyle. The scientific book is about the collapse of fertility due to synthetic estrogens, something I have been aware of for some years. In the movie that leads to tribalism and viciousness.
Thankfully, there are no tribes to speak of in Canberra. Religion, that often poisonous vehicle of ideology and power, is muted and easily ignored. For me, these are good times and Canberra is a good place. The gym smoothes my muscles and my soul. I wish you all love and good health.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 11:03 am | Comments Off on In the bosom of the ladies’ gym |
Filed under: Society

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.