Kevin Page: Pilates evokes billiards blush

By Kevin Page

Kevin Page.
Kevin Page.

Like a multitude of former sportsmen of advancing years, I have developed a nuisance tendon ailment.

My medical advisers are in agreement: If I am to stand any chance of making it to the next Olympics I need treatment.

While I haven't quite decided whether to make myself available for the Olympics - they clash with my Sunday golf - I agree something has to be done.

So I'm giving pilates a go.

Now pilates is one of those newish things for people like me.

I am of the "run it off" generation.

Buck Shelford, testicle ripped from his scrotum, is our idol. But even Buck will admit you have to do anything you can to keep the anatomy in shape.

So pilates it is and before you can say "I'll just watch the first time" I'm flat on my back on a mat doing an exercise designed to "activate my core".

This requires a great deal of concentration and butt clenching. That's good because my stomach is making some threatening noises and I want to make sure they stay put.

But concentrating is hard, particularly in getting your breathing sequence right.

Deep breath through the nose to fill up and exhale out while clenching butt, stomach and anything else you can think of.

Easy.

I feel a little light headed but that passes as I get into the work.
Breathe in. Clench. Activate the core. Exhale.
Breathe in. Clench. Activate. Exhale.
Breathe in. Clench. Exhale.
Breathe in. Exhale.
Breathe in. Exhale.
Bugger. Such is my relaxed, peaceful state. I've fallen asleep.

Luckily my trainer has left my side momentarily and I've managed to slip in 20 winks while she's been gone. Now I'm back in the real world, hoping she didn't hear me snore.

I have to admit this isn't the first time I have nodded off at less than perfect moments.

Years ago, as the new sports reporter on a big newspaper, I drew the short straw one cold winter's night and headed out into the fog and cold to cover the New Zealand snooker and billiards championships.

Freezing and miserable outside it may have been but inside the venue it was warm and toasty with suitable refreshment and luxurious chairs to keep the smattering of spectators comfortable.

Being part of "the media" does have its advantages and I soon found myself positioned by an open fire in the comfiest of leather seats, cradling a brandy while two very quiet, studious men played billiards.

Such was my level of contentment I started to think I really had landed the dream job. Maybe I'd volunteer to come again next year. And this brandy is pretty good. Maybe I'll get some in for home. Maybe I'll get a chair like this. Maybe I'll . . .

"Excuse me!."

The words jolted me from my thoughts and I discovered both players eyeing me disapprovingly. "Would you mind. We are trying to play a game here and you were snoring."

Mortified, I muttered an apology and tried to disappear into the crowd. Unfortunately, by that stage my snoring had scared off the other two spectators present - it would have been a very easy Mexican Wave - so there was nowhere to hide.

Having insulted the two players I felt it only right that I should do them the courtesy of showing some interest and watching every second of their encounter.

I didn't know much about billiards and the game went on for hours before I could escape, and every second watching was a battle trying to keep my eyelids in the "up" position.
Needless to say I wasn't invited back.

But I will be going back to pilates. I just hope I can stay awake to enjoy it.

- Northern Advocate

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