Unlike most people, watching Mark Phelps in a (really) low-slung swimsuit or eyeing women playing beach volleyball in bikinis doesn’t make me think of sex.
Events such as the Olympics, where the world’s best collection of super fit bodies whiz past the screen manically, make me cringe re: my poor fitness levels. And sex is the last thing on your mind when you’re stressing about body issues, right?
Sex and sports: Does beach volleyball do it for you? Photograph: Nir Elias / Reuters
To make matters worse, any sporting event of this scale always throws up the most amazing stories of inspiration.
In the Beijing Olympics, many of these stories were from water babies. A 27-year-old leukaemia survivor from the Netherlands won the gold in the men’s 10km water marathon; a South African woman who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident competed in the Games; a 41-year-old mother and retired international swimmer from the US came back to win three silver medals.
Then, of course, there was the tale of the American swimmer with testicular cancer who had to pick between surgery and participating in his first Olympics — no medals for guessing which one he chose.
Which leads to the obvious question: If they can do it, why can’t I?
To make matters worse, Madonna celebrated her 50th birthday in the midst of all that sporting action. So what if she’s never participated in the Olympics, she’s the original Energizer bunny. The singer has the body of a 20-year-old precisely because she goes on and on — swimming, biking, martial arts, Pilates, Ashtanga yoga; legend has it she even climbs 50 flights of stairs at a go.
So, here I was, bombarded with the stories/images of all these sportsmen (and Madonna), finally forced to focus on a middle-aged spread that is not helped by all the new beer launches (Carlsberg, Tiger, Guiness).
My mother’s recent observation (“Your hips have become broader”) was also echoing in my head. Let me say, in all fairness, that my mother has learned over the years to never volunteer such comments. She only responds when I repeatedly ask: “Be honest mum, have I gained weight?”
I would love to blame my lack of motivation on the fact that Indians start out slow. Ask urban parents what activities their children participate in and most of them will say piano, abacus classes and Hindi tuitions. We only discover the A-word (adventure) for a brief spell in our 20s. But I had an active childhood; besides my father says that after you turn 18 you can’t blame your parents for anything.
So, out of all excuses, I hit the treadmill last weekend. Don’t laugh; I’ve devised my own small/slow workout plan. I run for 20 minutes (or 2.5km), and follow that up with some speedy skipping and squats. I still don’t have the courage to do what Madonna’s trainer recommends — 30 minutes on the treadmill, sprint for one song, skip for one song and gallop for one song.
In a week I’m moving to Delhi, where I’ve already identified a running partner. Who knows, by the time the London Olympics come around, sex might just be on my mind.
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