fitness special

In at the deep end

If you are finding it difficult to ease youirself into an exercise regime. why not throw yourself in at the deep end? The List takes great pleasure in showing it can be done we have the bruises to prove it. Here Andrew Burnet tackles indoor climbing, Thom Dibdin braves step aerobics and (over)

In at the deep end

Fly boys

Aside from journalism. what more gentlemanly career could there be than cat-burglary‘.’ That‘s what music editor Jonathan Trew and myself reckoned: that's what made us volunteer to try out indoor rock-climbing at Edinburgh‘s Meadowbank sports centre.

The rockface in question is a ten-metre-high wall made from bricks and concrete. but warped and distorted like a Dali clock into steep inclines. sheer drops. awkward chimneys and daunting overhangs. Dotted around are hand and foot— holds offering varying degrees of purchase. In the centre. these dwindle away to a smattering of gravelly scabs: you have to be pretty advanced to scale that bit.

Our coach for the evening is Eric Le Du. a trim-looking man in his thirties with an easy- going manner and a humorous twinkle in his eye that is as Gallic as garlic. He began rock- climbing in his native Brittany. came to Scotland in I989. and has been teaching at Meadowbank for two years.

The essentials of rock-climbing. explains Le Du. are strength. confidence and agility: also harness. ropes and a hard hat. ‘otherwiscf he points out. ‘you might die of gravity exposure.‘ Indoor climbing. he reckons. is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for the greater challenges of the real thing: but it‘s also a competitive sport in itself. Some walls have adjustable-sized niches that force you to cling on

Kelly McMenamin discovers boxereise.

with the tips of fingers and toes: and varying the route can make different demands on the climber. Indoor climbing can also be a great confidence- builder: Le Du has done volunteer work with blind children who. he says. can gain enough self-reliance to scale climbing-walls with virtually no guidance. But it's also a sport of trust and co—operation. Only those suicidally in search of a buzz go climbing alone (this. of course. is prohibited at Meadowbank). For the rest of us. a partner is essential. His or her job is to handle the

rope. tightening it or paying it out via a system of

loops and rings so that it remains taut and secure.

Thus. trussed tip in my harness and hard hat. I consign my promising future into Trew‘s sturdy hands. The first ascent proves relatively easy. with a selection of generous hand and foot-holds: though a small sense of peril begins to grip the heart as I near the top. Ten metres doesn‘t sound much. but from tip there it's a long way down.

Faith in one’s partner receives the acid test when it‘s time to descend. Letting go with the hands. I have to lean back. allowing my partner to control my descent by slowly paying out the rope. Naturally. communication is of prime importance at this point.

Having both mastered the beginners‘ climb. 'l‘rew and I seek out more difficult ascents: those designed to separate the Spidermen from the Incredible l-lulks. The brickfaces get less yielding and the work gets harder . . . by the end of the two-hour session. we feel we‘ve earned some liquid refreshment. Thanking our host. we repair to the pub.

It‘ll be a while before we‘ve gained sufficient skills for our daring moonlit raid on a major financial institution. For now. though. we‘ve had a taste ofexhilaration that might well prove addictive. (Andrew Burnet)

In suspense: Andrew Burnet finds himself trussed up in harness and hard hat

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In at the deep end

E is for endorphins

See me? I’m fit. I visit a couple of clubs a week, serious dancing ones at that, and I’m a cyclist. OK, so I smoke a few fags every day and possibly drink more than Is good for me. A step class at Bodytalk? No problem. I mean, It’s just a step, right?

No sweat. Or so I thought. The reality, while hardly the most strenuous exercise I have ever done, left me perspiring, stiff and decidedly high on the old endorphins.

The worst part was actually going Into the class. Having filled in a form to say I wasn’t likely to keel

over from heart strain, I was there in trainers, cycling shorts and T-

follow. After a few loosening up exercises we went into a routine

shirt, the only guy in a room with 30 or so chra-clad women. I needn’t have worried. Even though this was a class for beginners, the instructor Lorraine launched straight Into action without a chance for anyone to look at my puny body.

Step is a thoroughly modern form of exercise. Pumping, ravey house music kept us all In sync, while Lorraine called out instructions Into her headset and over the loudspeakers. She didn’t seem to pause for breath during the whole hour. Unlike me. After ten minutes I caught sight of myself in the mirror. Not a pretty picture. My face had gone a Raspberry Ripple shade of pink and white. From then on I concentrated on following the moves of the person In front.

The actual steps were easy to

which was to build and expand for 40 minutes. Side kicks, arm stretches, buttock clenches. You name it, we did it. And all to the pumping beat. The only time we stopped was to grab a glass of water. The last few minutes were spent flat on our backs, relaxing and stretching the muscles we had been using.

I came out glowing and ready for a shower. I’d go back. Hell, I might even give up cigarettes. (Thom Dibdin)

Step aerobics classes, Bodytalk health and fitness centre, 7—9 Ponton Street, Edinburgh. Telephone 0131 228 2426 for times. Non-membership classes cost from £2.25, with student discounts available for some classes. Membership costs £25 a month (£17.50—£23).

The List 26 Jan-8 Feb 199619 t