Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Let's draw swords!

Alright, I'll just come out and say it, "My name is Sunil Goswami and I am a gymphobic.".

Well, it's not like I see a gym sign and run screaming, but I didn't coin the term. I do find gyms quite boring though. I have tried to join a gym and work out regularly quite a few times but never could keep it up. But just like everyone else I also need to keep in shape, (now don't tell me round is a shape, that joke's old now). I recently came across a newspaper article (I must explain before my regular readers accuse me of reading a newspaper, that I was using that as a tablecloth to eat on), "Fun ways for gym-phobics to keep fit", I decided to make that my lunch-time reading. The article was true to its title and there were indeed some half-dozen ways listed to stay fit without going to the gym. The first one that caught my eye (I tend to read an article from the middle) was "Fencing".

The first image that came to my mind was from one of those mythological/medieval Indian movies where the hero is like an Indian Robin Hood fighting the authority, and finale is somewhere like the top of a palace gate, the evil king and the hero fighting the last fight, swords gleaming in the sun, the sound of metal upon metal adding excitment to the action...

The images that followed were not less glamourous at all - James Bond in "Die Another Day", "Mask of Zorro" and a few others.

So, me being a child of the information age and a firm believer in the power of the Internet, I started to research the thing before making a decision.

My research started from YouTube, where I checked out not only the James Bond scene but also some footage of real life fencing. In movies everything is glamorous. But even the RL fencing looked quite interesting. So, next stop was Google Maps where I stuck my post code in and searched for fencing clubs. Luckily, there were a few fencing clubs around my area and I picked one which was the nearest.

Well, long story short (too late!), I have started to fence. So far, I have attended only 3 classes but it's such a fantastic sport. Maybe it's just me but it feels so glamourous. My club provides the whole kit (to use), until you are committed enough to buy your own. There's no time limit or pressure on you to invest a lot of money in it.

Okay, so the story starts with dressing. I had been told on the phone to dress up in loose tracksuit bottoms and trainer shoes. On top of that you wear a shoulder guard, a heavy, thick jacket, a glove in your fencing hand, and don't forget the mask that hides Rosamund Pike's lovely features and you can't tell she's a girl until she takes it off. Then you are ready to pick up the sword, it's called foil, and...oh wait, first you have to ask someone to zip you up. Yes, the jacket zips up in the back, that's why it's necessary to make friends in the club if you are going fencing. Well, so far I have never had to ask, people are so very nice they offer help even before I can bring myself to ask someone.

How cold did you say it is outside? Zero? Minus one? Minus two? well, not inside our club hall. You will see everybody sweating, excuse me, perspiring, even though the heat is turned off. It's not just all those heavy clothes, it's also the physical exercise, the excitement, the rush of adrenalin.

I am a newbie, completely unskilled, clumsy, slow and on top of that I have no stamina to stay in for long. And yet, nobody minds practicing with me. Even people with years of experience agreed to fence with me and some actually asked themselves. As I said, I am new and know nothing but still when I fight, the grip of that metal rod gives me confidence, and I feel all excited. The cling-clang of sword against sword is such a headrush!

Well, that's enough babbling for one post. Rest assured that I'll be writing about it again. I love fencing. (Hmmmm, I wonder if they make bumper stickers for that!). If you can, do try it. It's amazing!


Ritu said...

That you hate gym shows you are normal...I can never understand how some people like hubby lists gymming as his official hobby...I find that weird?? What's there to like in it?? I too try to find interesting way to keep myself fit (try is the keyword here)...i have tried several alternatives with varying degrees of failure: Aerobics, Masala Bhangra etc...but I really enjoy two forms of excercising: walking with my Ipod when the weather is really really good & spinning..I try to explore new fun ways to exercise...that's why I was fascinated by your wii gaming post...fencing too looks interesting though not a viable option for me

Sunil Goswami said...

Oh, I agree with you, Ritu. Gym is, at best, a necessary evil. I definitely do not think it can be a hobby. If you are listing "gymming" you might as well list "dentisting" as a hobby. We go to the dentist twice a year, but doesn't mean we should like it. I don't know what's there to like in a gym, it's indoors, it's closed, it smells of sweat (all of them do, including the super-expensive ones), the air is stale, the sports drinks are costly, the fruit and snacks are either too costly or taste horrible, the list is endless.

I'd rather work out indirectly while doing something else. Running I can tolerate because it takes me into fresh air and sunshine (as much fresh air as you can get in a town) and once I get into the habit, I enjoy it for the music I carry or an audiobook playing on my phone.

Fencing is good to work out for building stamina, but I think builds your dominant hand and leg more. I am finding the Wii fitness good and effective, as I'll detail in another post today. :)

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