Sunday, May 06, 2007

Article - Fitness - Peer Pleasure

Peer Pleasure

Exercising has its side effects. Unlike medication-related side effects, these are excellent. A happy side effect that’s fitness center-related is…making friends. Since joining the gym and group aerobics classes at Fitness One, my network of friends has grown by leaps and bounds. To single out, my experience in the group aerobics classes saw the development of a special bonhomie that blossomed into a real, enjoyable friendship over a series of night-outs and casual get-togethers. It was from this ‘clique’ that eight of us, all women -- embarked on the enviable task of planning a four-day get-away to Thailand.

This was an unconventional vacation, without husbands or children and it was a super duper extension of our local ‘gal pal’ jaunts. A short-and-sweet holiday in Thailand -- two days each in Pattaya and Bangkok. The plan provided for fun and relaxation in Pattaya and for extensive (!) shopping in Bangkok.

Excited chatting filled the air on the flight and after landing in Bangkok, the good-natured ribbing continued all through the car ride to Pattaya. Chilling out was paramount on the priority list. No sooner did we arrive at our beachside resort than we proceeded to explore the sleepy morning town of Pattaya, which, in fact, is famous for its snazzy nightlife. After immensely enjoying Thai massages at a health club there (even the foot massage was superb), we roamed around the town some more before taking a leisurely swim at the hotel’s opulent pool. Without even planning it and without risking our fun (!), we managed to rope in a spot of gentle exercise –swimming. So much for missing workouts during vacation time!

The next day, we outdid everybody we knew with our enterprising planning that ensured complete merriment! A late morning was followed by a terrific, activity-filled day on the beach. The banana boat ride that five of us took had us whooping with pleasure and apprehension in spite of lifejackets, since we were dumped unceremoniously into the water more than once during that 30-minute roller-coaster water-ride. Day O! I daresay that we were fit enough to handle it all…and more. Moreover, we had other thrills and amusement coming our way as we indulged in a spot of parasailing. This popular adventure-sport has you donning a life jacket, being clasped to a Parachute, while a long rope connects you to a speedboat on the water. You then take a running jump off the parasailing platform and find yourself flying high above the water as the boat far below powers your flight. We each took turns to be on top of the world for a few minutes! The parasailing team on the ground expertly handled the landing, which was a bit tricky. We threw in a couple of high-speed motorboat rides and our ‘beach day‘ was made!

The next two days at Bangkok saw us ‘walk the talk’ with the mantra “shop till you drop”. The calories we burned while walking around and shopping, were only matched by the money spent there, as Bangkok is famous for its reasonably priced bags, footwear, trendy clothes, etc.

One thing we have to say for ourselves on this vacation … No over-indulgence in food or dessert. While we certainly did not deny ourselves any goodies, we did find that it was actually easy to be conscious of our food intake and avoid succumbing to the sweet tooth, as we were a good mix of fitness freaks, dieters and ‘normal souls’. We influenced each other by the sheer strength of our individual presence. This was peer pressure of the best kind!

To meet at a common place like a gym, to workout together everyday, to meet socially now and then and to go abroad on a holiday with a truly decent, likeable lot…it was pure, unadulterated fun indeed -- Call it Group Therapy if you like!


Sujata Tarakesan.

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