Forward rolls

I’ve mentioned before that my least favourite day at school was Wednesday, due in large part to the presence of Gym class. My inability to do anything that involved turning temporarily upside down lead to tears in front of the rest of the class at least once, and Wednesday has seemed like a day to be wary of ever since. So it’s only fitting that our one Acrobatics class of the week is on Wednesday afternoon.

Yesterday gym equipment began appearing around the edges of the studio: springboards, a trampet, crash mats and, most scary of all for me, a box (you know, those high wooden boxes made of different horizontal sections, with a padded top that you have to leap over, probably upside down, ideally not falling clumsily, embarrassingly, sideways whenever you try it).

Thankfully Ken, the acrobatics teacher, is good at dealing with those of us who are less strong and bendy than we might be, although it was clear that we were either unusually disappointing in our fitness or he’d forgotten how bad every class is at the start of the year. I hope it’s the latter, although he did mutter “pathetic” at one point.

After some exhausting warm-up, involving leaping from one squatting position to another with the grace of a ballerina (we can dream), today’s task was forward rolls. I haven’t done a forward roll for nearly twenty years, since those dark days of Gym Wednesdays. I could just about manage a roll or two but seem to remember lacking the skills that would make it a pleasant experience for me or anyone watching.

Plenty of the class could do them fine and were left to get on with it while Ken helped the rest of us. (Meanwhile most of the class were combining forward rolls with sideways rolls into routines of varying grace and neatness.) Surprisingly, I just about managed some forward rolls, although I was well within the least able 20% of the group — it’s nice to know some childhood skills don’t diminish over time. Even after I’d managed it, every time I squatted there with my face looking at the floor it seemed like a physical impossibility that I could somehow flip over and land upright. It somehow worked each time, and by the end of the class I had a warming feeling of nausea and mild concussion as a reminder of the afternoon.

By the time I’d cycled the seven miles home — stopping only for the resuscitating powers of my first Beach Burrito — I was knackered. It can only get easier.

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