Friday, June 19, 2015

Eat. Play. Teach. Blog entry #9: The Butterfly effect by Georgina Selander

The Butterfly Effect - by Georgina Selander

When I left for South Korea, I was under the mistaken impression that I would naturally lose weight. The extra kilos that I’d gained during my varsity years – and sustained thereafter – would miraculously drop off, and I’d return to my boep-less existence. I pictured plates piled high with kimchi, bland broths and loads of steamed greens. I woke sweaty from dreams where I’d transformed from crusty pupa to velvety butterfly.

But let’s get one thing straight – the sum-total of my ‘steamed’ experience has been from watching Korean girly-boys with earrings and pink hair dance to K-pop music. Sigh. (Suga if you’re reading this, I’m single. Super single).

And when it comes to kimchi, most school days 3-4 mouthfuls is all I can stomach (depending on who’s serving it, kimchi swings between delicious and off-the-charts revolting).

So, in an effort to rectify this situation, I joined the local gym.

School lunch: fried rice, soup, kimchi, tomatoes, almond cake and a 'rice juice'. 

The gym in my area is less than spectacular. There are three rickety treadmills and a smattering of muscle-toning machines that I’m definitely not going to use.

It’s mostly frequented by two types of Koreans:

a) Skinny Korean girls with swishy ponytails. Why are you here if you’re skinny? You’re done.
b) Older men doing bendy floor work. I can’t look. It’s just so…anatomical.

But on the upside, there is a table of sweat towels, t-shirts and shorts at the disposal of the members. It’s nothing more than a pleasure to scrounge the pile for a large tee and ponder, “I wonder who sweated in this last?” But the draw card that really sealed the sign-up-deal: they offer yoga classes on Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays. This, I can do. A sequence of heaving breathing disguised as exercise? Definitely my kind of workout.

But boy oh effing boy was I wrong. In fact, the tri-weekly ‘yogarobics’ is two sit-ups short of torture. Okay so I’m obviously exaggerating. But still, if you were there you’d also be sweating out your body weight. The class is full of ajummas. I am the only foreigner. I’m the only one under 50. The lady leading the class has a svelte little body. I can see her thong through her spangly tights. She doesn’t speak any English.

Each class begins innocently enough: some dancing progresses into bicep curls, (haha bicep curls! I feel smart for saying that but I have absolutely no idea what it means) into squatting, then situps…

But guaranteed there’s a point that it gets weird.

Georgina Selander 
On my first trip (where I was still expecting yoga), the instructor produced a bag of golf balls mid-way. Cupping the balls in the palm of our hand, we rubbed them vigorously across our backs, necks, shoulders and face. Unable to understand the language, I had no idea why we were doing this.

On my second trip, we were given teethed Pilates balls and had to contort ourselves around them. A most painful experience. And when I asked for the smooth ball instead, the teacher looked at me and said, “massage ball?”. No. Definitely not a massage ball.

Halfway through each class, there’s that point when I think I’ve reached my limit. I start to get really angry. With the teacher? With myself and my own limitations? I don’t know. But I do know that by the end of the hour and a half, I’ve worked through some of it. Or at least the rice I ate for lunch.

So, maybe I’m not a butterfly. Yet. Maybe my transformation is taking its time. Maybe I can’t see it.

But I can feel it.

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