‘Seven … Eight ... Nine …
Well done ladies! You are half way through the sit ups.’
‘Come on Mummy you can dooo itttt!’
‘It might be easier, my darling, if you weren’t. Jumping. Up. And. Down. On. My ... arghhhh ... STOMACH!’
‘You’re like a bouncy castle Mummy,’ my daughter giggles before she lands on me again. With both elbows.
I am about to engage in the pointless exercise of trying to explain to a two and half year-old what demoralizing means, but I can’t get the words out. Or breathe for that matter. I contemplate requesting an ambulance as I reflect on the advertising that sold the class to me in the first place.
‘Bring your children.’ IT SAID
‘A relaxing and fun atmosphere.’ IT SAID
‘A really great workout.’ IT SAID
I survey the room of Mums lying on the floor, one of whom has her baby lying on her chest and I think might have actually fallen asleep. The woman next to her has a random Cheerio stuck to her face. Her son is kneeling next to her and she is feeding him a raisin after each sit up.
I silently shout at the room, ‘WHY ARE WE DONG THIS TO OURSELVES!!! WHY?! I ASK YOU!!?’
‘Right everybody!!’ The woman with the impossibly tiny waist shouts above the noise of all the children in the room.
‘Time for a tea break?’ I ask, hopefully.
Ignoring me, she launches into a combination of lunges, kicks and boxing moves that would put the Ninja Turtles to shame.
I, on the other hand, narrowly miss kicking my son in the head. And he was looking so cute beside me trying to follow the instructor’s moves.
Following years of toddler song and dance groups he assumes he will get a broken biscuit and some juice for his efforts, and demands one as soon as the reps are finished. I sprint to the buggy to get him a biscuit, hurdling several babies and toddlers on the way.
I get back. He wants juice.
I run back to get the juice.
‘Mummy! I want a drink too,’ my daughter cries.
I continue to race back and forth to the buggy for tissues. And crisps. And raisins. And toys ...
‘OK ladies. That’s your 5-minute rest break over.’
Over?! I collapse in a breathless heap on the floor.
‘Are you ok?’ The instructor asks, standing over me.
‘Totally,’ I gasp.
‘Are you eating a biscuit?’ She asks, astonished.
‘Mmmm. No?’ I mumble.
She looks at me suspiciously and then strides back to the front of the hall on her ridiculously toned Amazonian legs.
‘We are going to do a ten-minute jog and then move onto a series of floor exercises,’ she says. ‘Sadist,’ I mutter.
Everyone in the class runs from one end of the hall to the other. Out of the corner of my eye I spot my Lil Man snatch some Pom Bear crisps from a smaller child. He freezes when he realizes he’s been busted, then legs it.
I chase after him, but the little bugger is fast. He weaves in and out of the other Mums. I make a mental note – maybe that Sunday morning rugby club is paying off after all!
One of the mums is jogging with her daughter clinging resiliently to her ankle. I have serious respect for this lady.
My boy is now leaving a trail of Pom Bears in his wake. My daughter is running along behind him, eating them off the floor. I am out of breath.
Hindered by two weeks of festive over-indulgence it takes me a while, but I finally catch up with my little rascal, snatch the crisps back from him (whilst telling him off for snatching) and return them to the, by now, seriously pissed off toddler.
With a child under each arm, I do a final lap of shame.
‘Right! Well done ladies. That’s the warm up over.’
‘Now we are going to go into our plank positions’.
I think quickly.
‘Sorry princess? What did you say? Not now surely?’
‘I didn’t say anything Mummy’.
‘Shhhhhhh,’ I whisper.
‘You are really desperate for the toilet?’
I sigh loudly and dramatically, ‘We had better go then.’
‘But I don’t need the toilet’.
‘Oh yes you do!’