Now that I am officially a Middle Aged Lady, I feel moved to attend a bottom-shrinking class.
I have noticed that my cake and biscuit consumption can no longer be offset by simply pottering about the shops and dancing in nightclubs. Largely because I hardly ever do either any more.
Calling it a Middle-Aged Ladies' bottom-shrinking class makes it sound quite gentle. But once you're a Middle Aged Lady you have to work hard, really hard, to shrink your bottom.
You have to do circuits.
Circuits is presided over by Wendy. Wendy is made out of solid muscle. Wendy will make you do things with weights. Wendy will make you sweat till you leave a little damp patch on the exercise mat.
Don't get me wrong. Wendy is no concentration-camp guard, although with her black lycra and smile there is something of the dominatrix about her. She's actually much kinder than you think when she's exhorting you to "work harder, faster". If you lack childcare and should have to bring a toddler, Wendy will patiently hold the toddler's hand while you repeatedly slam a medicine ball into a mat, or do burpees. And she'll laugh along when you fall off the gym ball, again.
She patiently goes round telling you to keep your shoulders back, squeeze your core or lift your knees higher.
Not fun. But the results are worth it, right?
Well boo to you! It is fun. (I know! My sports-shy, cocktail-quaffing, shop-pottering younger self is aghast.)
Firstly, it's a bit like school. We're grown up now; we're parents; we're responsible for everything all the bloody time. For an hour a week (or two if you're keen), somebody else bosses you about. It's such a relief not to be the one making all the decisions. You will do squats with bicep curls (awful), then the bridge with overhead lift (dreadful), then Mountain Climbers (sheer hell!) and there's nothing you can do about it.
Secondly, it's women working together. In the Olden Days, we'd have been down by the river, bashing our laundry on the rocks and sweating and laughing. Or we'd have been harvesting, or - I dunno - whacking rugs with those curly wicker things. Something physical and hard work, but together. Now all that housework takes place behind closed doors. And while I'd never swap my Bosch 250 for a pile of rocks and some caustic soda, doing the washing isn't something we share anymore. Sweating and laughing with other women feels good in an almost primeval way.
Thirdly , it's a tiny bit like clubbing. With drugs and everything.
I'm going back a bit now (Middle Aged Lady, remember). But you know those times when you were in a club and the DJ plays a CHOON and it appears as though everyone has come up on their E at exactly the same? And the buzz is just amazing and you're using your body, and getting sweaty and you're in a room full of people and everyone's smiling and thinking "this is brilliant, I really am alive!" Well you get that. Fleetingly. Occasionally. And that's what keeps me going back.
Actually, what really keeps me going back is the pain, the terrible pain when you stop.
Your buttocks feel like fists of pain, the front of your thighs are agony. You can't do stairs any more without leaning hard on the bannisters. Let's not even talk about sitting on the loo.
Go once a week and the pain will last for a day, maybe two. Leave it for a fortnight, or - worse - a month, it'll fuck up your life for a week.