How to make new friends

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 18.01.37A few years ago, our local golf club transformed itself, at vast expense, into a country club. It now boasts a large well equipped gym, pool, spinning room and exercise studio, as well as a creche, beauty treatment rooms and a lot of disgruntled golfers. The restaurant menu manager ditched the once-beloved calorific dishes that were relished after an appetite-inducing 18 holes, in favour of ‘homemade fat-free soup’, ‘freshly squeezed papaya juice’ and 9 varieties of sparkling and still water. The sartorially-misguided amateur golfers rarely have a smile for the gym goers, preferring instead to act as if we weren’t actually there. The braver ones cancelled their membership, but most put up with the lycra-clad invasion.

lotusAnyhow, I joined so that I could do some Pilates and yoga – I leap out of bed each morning if I exercise, or creak out if I don’t. And becoming a member gave me an excuse to leave the ironing pile untackled. At first, despite what I’d been told, I didn’t find it at all sociable. Yes, I smiled at other people in my classes and occasionally chatted inanely about whether the air conditioning needed turning up or down. But mostly I stood on my blue exercise mat looking rather uncomfortable, especially  if I accidentally caught a glance of my disappointedly lumpy body in the mirrored wall. Everyone else seemed to be in a highly amusing conversation with someone. Then the class would begin and, paradoxically, I could start to relax. The hour always seemed to whizz by and then I’d escape to my car as quickly as I could. Weirdly, I am quite a sociable person and have several really good friends but, come to think of it, hardly any of them belong to a health club. And, to be fair, I didn’t actually go to the classes to make new friends. I just assumed it would be a side effect of mucking about in lycra with other like minded women (and the occasional man).  

leg behindThese days I don’t feel so awkward – well, I’ve been a member there since 2008, so you won’t be surprised to hear me say that. Obviously over the weeks and months, assessing stares turned into fleeting smiles and then the odd conversation started up. So it may have taken me longer than most, but I finally got to make some gym buddies. I’ve even been on a couple of retreats with some of them. What I haven’t managed to do though is achieve my secret (and probably pointless) ambition to get my leg around my neck again, like I used to be able to do when I was eight.