Rhythmic Gymnastics

What a strange week it’s been. It all started when friend of my mum, Ann, asked me if I’d mind her contacting a couple of local papers about Inspire a Jen. Somewhere in the middle of this, the Daily Mirror got involved and featured a piece on Inspire a Jen next to an article about a rusty box and some badgers. Then Darren Gough (who must surely be the key to the Mark Foster tweet we’re all waiting for) mentioned me on Talksport radio and the week ended with me sitting on a sofa in the Sky News studio, wanging on about there being a sport for everyone. Worth mentioning that both Darren Gough and Charlotte Hawkins succeeded where EVERY call centre agent I’ve ever encountered has failed, and pronounced my surname correctly. Congratulations! Now there’s a full page spread featuring me and NFO, Seb, on our fridge next to the shrine to David Miliband.

 

I am the news, or something

I am the news, or something

Being embarrassing in real time

Being embarrassing in real time

I’ll be honest, it’s a little awkward that pretty much everyone at work now knows about this project and that attention should’ve been drawn to the blog on this particular week, given the focus, but I’m just going to take a deep breath, press submit and try to forget that anything you post on the internet remains there FOREVER.

 

The problem with dating people who live near me is that, for a start, they live in the East London area so are likely to be pretentious douche-bags who want to talk about the manifesto they wrote for their art-work or their love of Icelandic film noir. The second problem is that on discovery of douche-bag like attributes, the simplest of tasks become unnecessarily complicated in order to minimise the risk of bumping into them. The weekly supermarket trip becomes a cross between some kind of covert operation, whereby you’re launching yourself under the broccoli to avoid awkward conversation, and a catwalk show, lest the former object of your affections spot you in the cricket jumper your mum knitted you, that reeks of bacon. Imagine, then, the deeply, deeply unpalatable possibility of bumping into one of those exes whilst you’re running in the park, sweaty (possibly even a bit snotty), red faced and wearing *gasps* Lycra.

 

I’m not saying this is an exclusively female issue, plenty of men may feel similarly, but I can only speak for myself in this case, not having testicles and all that. Negative body image is a massive issue for young women, seemingly staying with some of us throughout life. It can start at a very young age, is well documented as a reason why teenage girls are put off sport and it’s really, really rubbish. I remember being 6 or 7 years old, running around the playground in a PE lesson at school, thinking to myself “my legs look fatter than the other girls'”, which it’s only just occurred to me is quite an awful thought process for a child that young to be having. From then on, I didn’t much like running around in shorts and it probably took me the best part of 20 years to wear another pair.

 

Womens’ sportswear is seemingly designed to look bad on everyone. If you’re very thin, it’s not going to do much for you and if you’re average sized, it’s going to accentuate probably every part of your body you feel conscious of. It’s skimpier than men’s’ sportswear, and it only comes in black, pink or turquoise. Not to mention the total lack of practicality. NO-ONE, not even the people whose job it is to know, knows what to do about breasts and YES I’m looking at you, Shock Absorber, because YES it was embarrassing when your “No.1 Sports Bra” malfunctioned whilst I was running the other week. Further to this, who decided that I don’t need pockets because I’m a woman? Do I not need a key to get back into my house? Ah yes, that’s right, I won’t be out by myself, I’ll have some Icelandic film noir watching man with me and he’ll probably have the key-bearing responsibility, if I can only overlook the fact that he’s a complete douche-bag and he watches films that I don’t understand.

 

Having drawn the logical conclusion that women want to minimise the aesthetic hideousness of exercising, and indeed wear something that doesn’t malfunction embarrassingly, Caroline Greenslade’s Vevie Active brand is set to end the misery of the work-out wardrobe. Caroline felt that women’s’ sportswear is often designed to look like there’s some kind of technology involved, creating an uber-young aesthetic appealing to men, rather than the women who are lumbered with wearing it. I’ve been spending my endless winter of marathon training scampering around Clissold Park in Vevie’s Brunswick training top and tights. I’m not going to lie to you, these are a bit pricier than my usual £7 leggings, but they have pockets, which has spared me the humiliation of the runner’s bumbag and this is priceless. They also look good – I even went to the supermarket in them after a run, once.

 

Sportswear I'm actually not embarrassed of

Sportswear I’m actually not embarrassed of

With all this in mind, imagine how I feel about posting a video of myself in a leotard, participating in a rhythmic gymnastics competition? I’m telling you now, that in the Top 10 of soul-crushing life experiences, it’s a close third after bereavement and unrequited love, and marginally more traumatic than the time I split my scalp open on a pavement in Dalston. So be kind to us, whilst recognising before you press play that what has been seen cannot be unseen.

 

This competition has been a bit like that story about the hen who bakes some bread: EVERYONE wants to watch you make a tit of yourself, very few people want to actually be the aforementioned tit-makers. So I must pay IMMENSE tribute to bezzies Vera and Uncle Becky for stepping up.

 

If Sasha Fierce did Ribbon Twirling...

If Sasha Fierce did Ribbon Twirling…

A lot of preparation went into this event: leotards were bought and customised, a dance studio was booked, competitors and judges travelled from Bristol and Brighton, the first attempt was delayed by snow and HOURS were spent agonising over song choices. As someone with an incomprehensible love of bad 90s RnB, naturally, R Kelly wasn’t far from my mind (he rarely is, nor will he be from yours, once you’ve seen this), but my final choice came to me in the delirium of Sunday Night Insomnia, the week before the original event had been planned. It was a gamble, but one I hoped would reap big rewards. Once I had this locked down, and with the aid of some youtube searching that, were I a 50 yr old man, would probably lead to some uncomfortable questions being asked, I was able to “choreograph” a routine.

I don’t really know what to say about our routines, so I’m just going to let the video do the talking, whilst gently rocking.

Judges, my flatmates John D and Tom and the COMPLETELY impartial John W, Vera’s boyfriend, awarded points, as per the rules, for execution, artistry and difficulty.

Yes, they are writing on paper plates

Yes, they are writing on paper plates

Whilst I scored highly on difficulty, the feeling was clearly that I was punching above my weight here and the overall execution wasn’t great. Whilst Tom felt that I had good wrist action, great footwork and, this is a direct quote, a “sensational finale”, he deemed my cartwheels “clunky” and “heavy” – the words every girl dreams of hearing in the context of her wearing a leotard. John D’s sole commentary on my musical gamble: “I hate horses”. Meanwhile, John W felt that my performance face let me down – I was just too focussed. My overall score was 14.

Flashdance

Flashdance

Uncle Becky was a hit in terms of song choice, and she was instantly awarded full artistic points by John D. Tom commented that he was won round by her deployment of the splits, which I admit were impressive, though John W later commented that with hindsight, he regretted not giving her a lower score in terms of difficulty of the routine. Uncle Becky’s overall score was 15.

The winning move

The winning move

Last but not least, with less than a week to practice with a borrowed hula hoop, Vera was awarded points for her “jaunty” and “charming” routine, and difficulty points for her final throw of the hoop, no mean feat we can all agree. Though after a fluffed catch mid-way through the routine, judges felt her heart wasn’t in it. Her final score was 13.

 

She's very charming

She’s very charming

Because it’s my competition and I can do what I like, however, I’m going to award Becky and Vera a joint gold medal in this competition, for being such good sports and in Vera’s case, for spending THREE HOURS of her bank holiday Monday sewing sequins on my ass. Ladies, I salute you.

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Jen

8

12

1

21

Jade

2

1

3

Gemma

2

2

Nick

2

2

Uncle Becky

1

2

3

Harriet

1

1

2

Chloe Rogers

1

1

Dalston Dunkers

1

1

Daniel

1

1

GB Handball

1

1

John

1

1

Naomi

1

1

Otter Water Polo

1

1

Romford HC

1

1

Ruislip Eagles

1

1

Steve

1

1

Su

1

1

Vera

1

1

Simon

2

2

Ali

1

1

James

1

1

My Mum

1

1

Nic

1

1

Pete

1

1

© Inspire a Jen, 2013.

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