Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Tuesday 27/11/07

Here’s a reminder that I’m coming to Paris and I would like some gyms recommended to me.  I wrote this at the end of a very long post yesterday so you might have drifted off by then.  And here is the message in internet translator French, because I don’t actually speak French:

Pouvez-vous recommander une salle de gymnastique à Paris ? Quelque part gentil et grand avec une piscine. Peu un gay trop peut-être, mais pas trop gay”

This is actually fun.  I put this back into the translator to change it back to English, then back to French, then back to English.  And this is what came out:

“Can you recommend a room of the gymnastics in Paris? Some divide nice and large with a swimming pool. Not very merry too perhaps, but not too merry”

Wish me luck then. 

Speaking of gyms, today I thought I’d tell the story of my sporting achievement over the years.  I am a natural born athlete of course, just like every other short, small-built gay person.  As if nature hadn’t been cruel enough with me, I am also lazy and unmotivated.  This amazing combination of physical prowess and fierce mental determination has meant that I have been immensely successful in every sport I’ve ever tried. 

Not that you have many choices growing up in Greece anyway; there are only two sports known within the confined borders of my home country: basketball (played at every break during school hours in a grey tarmac court with one basket only and no nets on the hoop) and football (played after school on a grey tarmac pitch where the lack of goals is made up for by strategically placed jumpers as goalposts on the ground). 

I’ve never been keen or actually half-competent in either of these sports and that’s as far as it went really.  I don’t know, if I had more choices I might have found somebody that I’m good at.  But let’s keep in mind that Greece is a country where the terms for American football and rugby are interchangeable because nobody knows what either of them is, cricket, hockey and squash are as offbeat as underwater chess in a more civilized country and tennis is something that most people have heard of, but nobody has personal experience with, a bit like the immaculate conception. 

So basically until I was 18, my only sporting experience was shooting some hoops every now and then, to avoid people calling me sissy too much. 

A few years after I moved to England, and I guess in pursuit of some pre-defined state of masculinity I actually developed an interest in participating in sports.  And these are the sports I tried between the ages of 20 and 25: 

-         Swimming.  I don’t know.  Does this count?  Not really.  It’s kinda gay anyway and it’s not like you drown in testosterone competing body to body against other men.  Anyway, as my Mummy and Daddy didn’t bother to teach me how to swim in the 18 years that I lived with them (mainly because they can’t swim themselves), I thought I’d give it a go.  So when I was doing my Master’s degree and I had lots of time in my hands, I started going to the University swimming pool every day, practicing, reading books to learn how to stay afloat obviously I was too embarrassed to ask anyone to help me – I was 21 for fuck’s sake) and trying to learn new styles.  This actually worked and I can now swim pretty well 

-         American football.  This was part of an attempt to socialize, meet some people and make some normal friends.  Anyone who knows me in real life must realize how absurd the idea of me playing American football really is, as my size is more suited to being thrown around like a ball, rather than being an actual player.  The closest I got to going to American football practice was driving to the club, sitting in the car park with Andrews, listening to the radio for a bit, being too scared to go in and driving back.  Obviously it’s the sport’s loss 

-         Tae kwon do.  Again, this was part of the effort to find a group of friends soon after I moved to Manchester.  Andrews and I actually kept this up for a couple of years.  We got up to our blue belts (you start with a white belt, the black belt is the tenth in order and blue is just halfway through – fifth), but this doesn’t really mean that much to be honest, they’re not that hard to get up to there.  They practically hand them out if you keep going to classes and paying.  Maybe getting a red or a black belt signifies some merit but up to there it’s kinda easy.  We gave up after it became a bit of a drag (the higher you got the more time you had to spend in classes) and our shins had taken enough of a beating from “sparring” in competitions 

-         Rowing.  I took up rowing when I first moved to London.  I went every fucking Saturday and Sunday morning before dawn for 4 months (October-January), froze my balls to death, experienced the crystal clear waters of the Thames in to close proximity, realized everyone else was at least 3 times as tall as me and didn’t have a life outside the sport and never went again.  I actually liked rowing but my height is a serious handicap for that sport (and life in general) and I just don’t want to be a cox either thank you very much 

Is it stupid that I want to take fencing lessons next?  Should I just give up?

19 comments:

DAMO said...

A lot of water activities! I like it.

You so should take up fencing!
I have been doing it as part of my acting class and I love it (that does not mean I am good at it lol)

Toby said...

Why don't you try your hand at bodybuilding?

That is a legitimate sport. It is very disciplined, you will learn a lot about the human body, and you are already off to a good start with your lean and toned physique!

London Preppy said...

damo: Really? That's very cool. How hard is it? Even to get started?

toby: I don't know...I kinda want to learn a skill

DAMO said...

For you judging by your previous sporting skills, very quickly for me...a lifetime! lol

Well at the moment even though our trainer is teaching us to do fencing mainly for television etc, he has been a bit of a rebel and has been showing me how to do a surprise attack known as "beat attack" which is the first thing I actually feel confident at! hehee

That said, everyone else in my acting class is very good at it so I feel like a remedial!!

It is reletively easier than other sports, perhaps because it is more fun than kicking a ball (yawn) etc.

So I guess it is easy(ish) and very enjoyable and a good work out! aswell! I am working hard on my footwork at the moment as I am dispraxic so there is a little irony! hehe

Why not give it a try

Raphael said...

LOL I sympathize. I too am on the shorter side... yay Mediterranean genetics... but from what I've read you're a couple of cm taller than me so see, it's not all bad... and likewise I'm still taller than many of the latinos at my gym... meh if that's my only physical handicap I guess I should consider myself lucky!

You really can't let your height hold you back. There's some professional NBA player, for the New York Knicks I believe, who's like in the 160s... in a sport like basketball.

I guess it's too late to suggest we were built for gymnastics (but our joints will thank us for not bothering) I personally love football (soccer), and I bodybuild naturally and speedskate.

I took up speedskating (on ice) because I too also wanted to learn a skill. I bodybuild for personal fun, not to compete, and I don't consider it a sport. It isn't even healthy when taken to extremes, look at some of these roided up bodybuilders and the health problems they develop... natural bodybuilding is a fun challenge though and kind of just goes hand in hand with my gym rat-ness.

But being able to actually move gracefully on a slippery surface and do cool stuff like crossover turns and stuff is a totally different achievement for me. And skating is really great cardio... I don't know what options you have in London, but if rinks exist in Florida they have to exist in the UK... but then I could be wrong.

I'd love to get into ice hockey, maybe one day... but then that's another thing not really big in Britain.

Maybe you could take up water polo! That's really brutal though...

London Preppy said...

raphael: You've touched in a couple of very interesting ones there. Gymnastics I would love to have done and I actually think it's one thing I might have been good at. Water polo sounds great too and I nearly tried it in the past but I couldn't find a beginners' class (for people my age lol)

kim said...

if it's skill you want, then go back to martial arts ... that particular school of Tae Kwon Do may not have been exactly what you'd expected if they were simply handing out ranks, but shop around and you'll find something more to your liking/needs. I know of a couple of excellent schools in the UK but not too close to you ... find a traditional school that teaches a traditional style (Soo Bahk Do / Tang Soo Do / Wu Shu / Shotokan) if you want to learn discipline, control, etc or a more modern style (grappling / mixed martial arts) for a more full-on, physical experience. I'm biased, but if you want a challenging skill, martial arts is the way to go. Plus height doesn't enter the equation.

Or just take up cricket (biased on that one too) for learning a skill that is more removed from anything else you've ever done. Ever. Plus height plays no factor in cricket, unless you plan on being a fast bowler ... also, there's often plenty to play for, such as or Simon Jones.

Andre said...

My sister's (ex) boyfriend is a fencing Italian champion and he's very short, so I guess that's an approachaable sport for petit guys too..

Why don't you try diving? It's a water sport, it's all about technique and aesthetics and it's kinda similar to gymnastics but doesn't affect much your joints.. Or at least that's what I get when I watch it on TV..

Steven said...

Try skeet shooting.

Just in case you 'miss' a target and hit someone you really can't stand, you can always blame the sport.

It's win-win.

A said...

This was maybe the funniest post I've read on your blog yet, London Preppy. It made me smile. The sarcasm was cutting and impressive...tennis like the immaculate conception was maybe the high point.

Good luck with fencing, should you give it a go.

Trevor said...

Fencing fits with the whole preppy thing. Americans learn to fence in their fashionable east coast prep schools; your sport really ought to be consistent with the image you're trying to cultivate.

Trevor said...

Fencing sounds fun - in an all dressed up en guard kinda way... How about Curling... its also an Olympic sport, you get to do work as a team, it isn't especially athletic though - and you have to deal with the coldness of the ice... But it is fun and very outside the ordinary. (I did it once in Sweden). What about cycling? Tour de France here you come...?

Toby said...

Maybe I'm misinterpreting, but there are many skills one must learn when it comes to bodybuilding. It is the most hardcore of sports because it is an entire lifestyle. You bodybuild 24 hours a day - unlike rowing or football, where you are involved in the sport only when on the water or field.

MrM said...

Pouvez-vous me recommander une salle de gym à Paris ? Un endroit assez grand et sympa, avec une piscine. Un peu homo si possible, mais pas trop quand même. (To the fellow francophone readers: yes, yes, I know, there are millions of other ways of translating this)...
And then don't forget the obligatory "Merci Madame/Merci Monsieur/Merci chéri".
And why do French people always have to brag about their language? I wouldn't know, I'm only half French. And the other half is definitely not English, as one can see from my phrasing...
And lastly, I do agree: fencing is definitely sport for short. And kinda classy too. Hot maybe even, with its subdued, elegant and virile, civilised approach to actually... fighting. I do believe you could find a liking to it.
And en français, fencing would be: l'escrime. Just in case (we apparently have a pretty good national fencing team. But then again, how would I know?)

adam said...

You should try hot yoga. No matter what shape you're in, it will kick your ass.

Oliver said...

Just use your common sense while in Paris and you'll find a decent gym. However just don't step foot in Univers Gym, it's gayer than Judy Garland's funeral. The same goes for most gyms in the 4th arrondissement.

Trybaby said...

"I don’t know, if I had more choices I might have found somebody that I’m good at." I'm sure you mean something.

Fencing sounds like fun, you should give it a go. But the diving someone else suggested sounds like a good idea. My parents also found it prudent not to show me how to swim so I'm learning now at the tender age of 19. Luckily I have no shame so I am getting help from a lifeguard friend. I can swim a whole length now : ).

Oh and on the poll what does Amelle mean?

London Preppy said...

kim: I like the action pic on your comment to illustrate your point!

everyone: Out of the suggestions I like diving a lot.

trybaby: Replace somebody with something. I don't usually read the posts back after I've written them so there are typos I'm sure

Amelle is an in joke between Mean and me

Raphael said...

Toby: Bodybuilding really requires a lot of patience, dedication, and, yes, is a 24/7 thing. I consider bodybuilding more of a lifestyle and what you take away from bodybuilding isn't really a "skill" but rather values which you can apply to other things in your life, from sports to work to relationships. Skills would imply that you need to be particularly skillful... I don't really see much skill involved in bodybuilding... weightlifting involves some skill such as technique and form, but it really is such a cut and dry activity requiring strength more than anything.

I'd definitely recommend bodybuilding to anyone for all its benefits, particularly when done for fun and not on an obsessive overboard level, but I still don't know if I'd call it a sport or a skill. It definitely is a lifestyle though.

Then again, if curling is a sport...