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  The relationship between mind and body has kept philosophers in gainful employment for millennia. The mind is an intangible while the body is governed by and operates within the physical rules and realities of the world we live in.
Take my quest for the coveted “six-pack” as an example. Not to be confused with a bunch of beer cans, I am referring to the much-sought-after corrugated line of stomach muscles connecting the rib cage to the pelvis. The peak of physical fitness and an example of the mind and body working together in unison. Converting my one-pack to a six-pack is something I have always been mentally much enthused about but, frustratingly, my physicality has never followed suit.
What I have really needed, therefore, is
an opportunity to mentally commit to something that in turn would compel my body to bend to my will.
So when your determined columnist received a last minute call to join an East Anglian quadrathlon event, I immediately responded with a loud and enthusiastic thumbs-up. No big deal, just a little one- mile swim, four-mile kayak, 45-mile cycle and eight miles of running.
No big deal, but there was a minor hitch - only one month to prepare!
My mental commitment meant my body had no choice but to deal with the consequences of an aggressive training regime. And I would get closer to that elusive six-pack.
There was no time to lose – I needed to try and get fit, fast. So I committed to a little workout class at the nearby health club, a “Boot Camp”. Visions of my new six-pack abounded, but what neither my mind nor my body had accounted for was meeting Big Vern, our antipodean trainer.
The friendly “G’day, mate, my name’s Vern” in the entrance hall, cleverly disguised the
here. All of us aspiring hopefuls in the class had paid good money hoping to be comfortably chaperoned through to physical nirvana over the course of the next hour, but it wasn’t long before Vern’s shouting and copious expletives dictated otherwise.
The peaceful morning breaking outside was completely at odds with the hell that we were becoming acquainted with inside. It was pain, delivered in short staccato bursts. 45-second bouts of ‘reps’ or repetitions and Vern barked and growled at us all through the first set of exercises. 45 seconds on, 15 second’s rest. 45 seconds on, 15 second’s rest. No respite. The star jumps were fine at first, but by the time Vern had commanded us to do the squats, the burpees and the sit-ups, I was like a fish out of water, red- faced and gasping for breath.
I was halfway through this first set, teeth- gritted, eyes-closed when I heard Big Vern bark a no-nonsense order directly at me.
“IF YOU SPEW, YOU CLEAR IT UP!”.
I froze and my train of thought went something like this:
1. What was all that “mate” chat about earlier?!
2. I obviously don’t look well (paranoia)
3. If I look that bad, it might be a precursor to an imminent cardiac arrest (extreme paranoia)
4. If I do spew, how do I clear it up... (practicality)
and finally
5. Who uses the word “spew” these days anyway? (comedic query)
Then my arms folded beneath me and I fell in a humiliated, crumpled heap. Great. There I lay, broken and with no hope of any sympathy from this nutcase trainer. Shakespeare once wrote “sweet are the
uses of adversity” but this was a tricky one in which to find a positive. But just when I thought all was lost, my mind and my body reunited and agreed that we would prioritise self-preservation over training and six-packs and get out of this place immediately.
This would be our first and last Boot Camp class with this Big Vern tyrant. If we were to get fit and work up a six-pack in the process, we would do it at our own pace in the absence of this barracking sadist.
By throwing caution to the wind and agreeing to enter into the quadrathlon, it was now clear to me I had upset the delicate equilibrium between mind and body. Mind had tried to take control and force my body into a challenging predicament where I would feel compelled to get fit pronto. But Body couldn’t deal with it.
Big Vern had forced my mind and body to come to a sensible consensus and avoid Boot Camp at all cost. Together, mind, body and me would find a more palatable training regime. And, besides, having now encountered Big Vern, this quadrathlon didn’t seem so daunting after all.
OPINION
    nightmare ahead. I should have guessed by Big Vern’s dreadlocked hair, bulging muscles and wild-eyed enthusiasm that nothing conventional was going to be happening
ISSUE 92 JULY/AUGUST 2022 7







































































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