Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fat Woman and the final aria

Fat Woman has cancelled her membership of her gym. There are just 33 days left until Fat Woman will be refused entry or, more worryingly, be allowed to use the facility to extend her car parking from three to five hours.

Fat Woman has been increasingly dissatisfied with her gym. At Personal Trainer's new gym every single member of the staff has looked at Fat Woman, smiled and said hello or goodbye or even - most strangely - thank you for coming. The fitness staff ask if Fat Woman had a good workout. The desk staff say that it is nice to see Fat Woman. The self-employed personal trainers smile and say hello. It is a very friendly and courteous place. Nothing like Fat Woman's gym.

There are some things that Fat Woman's gym has over Personal Trainer's new gym. Fat Woman's gym has more rowing machines. Personal Trainer's new gym has just three rowing machines, of which one can only produce drag up to 95. Fat Woman rows at 120. There has also been a little bit of trouble with the stationary bikes. Since Fat Woman started using the bikes to warm up before session all four have disappeared. Fat Woman swears this is nothing to do with her. There are two reclining cycles left, but Fat Woman doesn't enjoy those as much. Nor does Personal Trainer's new gym have a heavy punch bag. Instead it has a bright green free-standing punch bag that Fat Woman can have over with a good right hook. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that there is a real boxing ring for Personal Trainer and Fat Woman to do pads in. It makes little difference to Fat Woman really, but she is allowed to use the ropes to lean on during rests.

Fat Woman's gym has a 20m swimming pool. Personal Trainer's new gym has a 12m pool, which Fat Woman thinks is really a paddling pool. Fat Woman would spend most of her swim turning around. The swimming pool was what kept Fat Woman at her gym for the last three months, but she has calculated that she can use the public swimming pools and still be within her budget.

The straw that broke the camel's back for Fat Woman was when they cancelled boxing class. In the entire timetable the only other class that Fat Woman wanted to do was aquarobics, and that just didn't get her heart rate up enough.

So Fat Woman is now a member of Personal Trainer's new gym and will hereafter be referring to it as "the gym" and what was "Fat Woman's gym" shall now be "Fat Woman's last gym".

Fat Woman did sing a little song as she skipped away from handing in her notice, but only quietly as the Fat Lady might sing to show the end of things but Fat Woman sings all the way through.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Fat Woman and the disappearing obstacle

Fat Woman has had trouble with her knees for ages, particularly the left one. In fact, Fat Woman's one rule of the gym, apart from "show no flesh" and "a personal trainer who flirts with you is after one thing - your money", is that she won't do anything that involves putting all her weight on one leg and hoiking the rest of her vast bulk after it.

This week Fat Woman had the most amazing session in the world because her knees didn't hurt one bit. No sharp pain from her patella tendon, no grinding noises from her cartilage, no twanging muscles. It was such a huge relief for Fat Woman to be able to do a squat with perfect form. It was also a relief for Fat Woman to know that Personal Trainer could see a clear difference between when she hurts and when she doesn't.

Fat Woman isn't sure how long this pain-free state is going to last so she doesn't want to celebrate too loudly or too long but she is counting up all the money spent on Osteopath and Glucosamine-Chronditin and all the time spent wearing sensible shoes and stretching and worrying about how to put her feet down without hurting herself more and is considering it well spent.

Fat Woman was tempted to run off and try the elliptical machines or a spin class but is holding back until she knows if this is just a flash in the pan. All that needs to be fixed now is Fat Woman's painful foot. This has been going on since August and Osteopath has told Fat Woman to go through the pain and it will get better. Fat Woman has pledged that if Osteopath has actually fixed it so she will get to be pain-free she will start the "Couch to 5k" programme. When Fat Woman told Personal Trainer this he asked if he had heard correctly, that Fat Woman wanted to do a 5k run. Fat Woman assured Personal Trainer that he hadn't heard correctly but that she was considering doing the part of "Couch to 5k" that came after the couch.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Fat Woman and the knotty problem

Fat Woman is learning the importance of stretching. Fat Woman spent good money with Osteopath to be informed that her hamstrings were simply too tight and she should stretch much more. Fat Woman now gets assisted hamstring stretching from Personal Trainer at the end of every session. Fat Woman doesn't enjoy assisted stretching because she is on flat on the floor at Personal Trainer's mercy but thinks it is really very nice when it stops.

Fat Woman has been working with Osteopath and Personal Trainer to improve the condition of her knees. Fat Woman has suffered variously with patellar tendonitis, compressed cartilage and adhesions. The patellar tendonitis had been bothering Fat Woman for a couple of years before she met Personal Trainer. The compressed cartilage came during Personal Trainer's holiday. Fat Woman trained with Swimming Coach who got Fat Woman to do 300+ squats and squat-type movements. Fat Woman did ask him what he was thinking getting a 300lb+ woman to do that, but the answer was unsatisfactory. The adhesions happened regularly until Osteopath diagnosed a problem with the tracking of Fat Woman's left knee cap. Fat Woman was sent off with instructions to ask Personal Trainer to work on strengthening her VMO. Personal Trainer knew immediately what a VMO was without having to ask and changed the position of Fat Woman's feet for lifting. For the interested reader, VMO stands for Vastus Mediallis Obliquus, which is a muscle found on the inside of the thigh. Fat Woman has been made to do single leg presses and single leg lifts for what seems like forever, although she still can't do a single leg squat unsupported. The upshot of all this technical knowledge was that Fat Woman was instructed to get assisted quad stretching as well as assisted hamstring stretching. This would help prevent more adhesions.

Fat Woman feels that stretching is a complete waste of exercise time, but has had to accept that it is necessary. Fat Woman hasn't managed to be more than stoic about stretching because she finds it even more embarrassing than the time she had to grip a Swiss ball between her ankles and raise the ball up in the air. Fat Woman was lying on her back at the time, which meant when she dropped the ball she was unable to stop it from bouncing off her forehead. Personal Trainer didn't even pretend not to laugh by the third time.

Four minutes before the end of every training session Personal Trainer tells Fat Woman to get on the mat. First comes the indignity of Fat Woman lying on her back with her foot resting on Personal Trainer's shoulder. From this point Personal Trainer seems to be trying to use his bodyweight  to put Fat Woman's leg behind her ear. Apparently Fat Woman is more flexible than 90% of Personal Trainer's clients. Fat Woman thinks this is mostly a good thing, although she has heard Personal Trainer mutter than he hates flexible people because they make stretching such hard work. There is little talking at this time because if Fat Woman laughs she might snap a tendon. Fat Woman relies on holding up her hand in a stop motion for when she is feeling the stretch.

After her dignity has been wounded, Fat Woman has to flop over on to her front for quad stretching. Personal Trainer has to tell Fat Woman to relax every week. Fat Woman hasn't mastered being zen about lying face down in a public place whilst a Personal Trainer puts her knee under his thigh and ends up leaning on her squishiest parts in order to execute the very helpful but slightly odd stretch mandated by osteopath. Fat Woman has to do some pushing back as well, to help prevent adhesions. As Fat Woman is apparently very flexible it takes some effort to achieve the right result. Fat Woman doesn't like to think too much about what is going on behind her. Communications can be quite hard when Fat Woman is face down on the ground and Personal Trainer is staring straight ahead so Fat Woman has learned that when she wants to beg for mercy she has to slap the ground like a wrestler signalling they give up.

Early in the session Fat Woman had informed Personal Trainer that it was a mark of how much her life had changed that the thing she wanted most in the whole world right then was to sit on the foam roller. Fat Woman likes The Grid foam roller and sometimes borrows Sparky's when she is in the gym. Personal Trainer said there would be no foam rolling until after session and made Fat Woman do leg presses and straight-legged deadlifts. So when Personal Trainer asked if Fat Woman was aware that she had a big knot "there" i.e. over her piriformis Fat Woman said yes, it was why she had mentioned the foam roller earlier. Personal Trainer offered to unknot the muscle for her. Fat Woman thought this was a very generous offer as technically the session was over. Having had problems with her piriformis and sciatic nerve in the past Fat Woman doesn't like to neglect this area. Personal Trainer warned that it would be sore later, but Fat Woman remembers the pain of a sciatic spasm and reckoned it couldn't be that bad.

Fat Woman isn't entirely sure what went on when she wasn't looking but thinks possibly Personal Trainer used his elbow to massage out the knot. Personal Trainer recommended a tennis ball for home use but Fat Woman is thinking that if regular sports massages are the price she has to pay to avoid lying on the floor whilst Personal Trainer jabs her bottom with his elbows then she needs to review the budget and find some money.

Fat Woman hopes to God it was elbows.

Fat Woman no longer has a knot but she is having trouble sitting down.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Fat Woman and what she really, really wants

Another day goes by and Fat Woman is faced with the reality that there is an awful lot of codswallop talked about women in the shooting world. This is to say that the codswallop is talked by the people in the shooting world about the women who shoot. Even the women who shoot are spouting some of this rubbish. Fat Woman thinks that it's about time someone did some conciousness raising, although she'll leave that to someone who can actually shoot better than she can. Fat Woman reserves the right to be annoyed by it.

The bit that frosts Fat Woman's cookies the most is the statement that "X per cent of women are left-eye dominant". There are variants on this. Sometimes the writer says that X per cent of women are "cross-dominant".  Once a writer even made claims that a large proportion of shooting women were in fact cross-eyed. Nevertheless, the theme is that the large majority of women are not right-eye dominant.

If it matters, Fat Woman is right-eye dominant. Fat Woman is currently shooting with both eyes open and doing reasonably well. When she points the gun in the right place of course. Fat Woman is used to feeling like a freak, but this is the first time her freakish existence has ever worked in her favour.

Fat Woman has discussed this statistic with several people and has been pointed to proper research at This research suggests that although slightly more women than me are left-eye dominant (19.8% versus 16.2%) there is not evidence to suggest that the majority of women are not right-eye dominant.

Fat Woman thinks it is a great pity that people are sloppy with data. Fat Woman admits that she is a little on the geeky side of things. For example, when Personal Trainer told Fat Woman that the tongue of a blue whale was the size of a bus Fat Woman immediately wanted to know what particular bus. In her defence, Fat Woman repeated this story to several of her friends who all asked the same question. Personal Trainer told Fat Woman than she had weird friends. When Personal Trainer tells Sparky a factoid Sparky replies: "Wow!" Fat Woman is a woman and uses "wow!" to mean "I can't believe you said/did something that stupid". Fat Woman didn't always do this but got the idea from a Facebook meme.

Fat Woman has checked Wikipedia and can report that Wikipedia claims the tongue of a blue whale is 2.7 metric tons or 3 short tons. Fat Woman is going to go with Wikipedia for the purposes of this argument, but is aware that it is not always the most accurate of sources. Fat Woman has cross-checked the weight of buses, both single and double decker, and they weigh much more than three tons. Fat Woman has checked the specification sheets for the newest, lightest hybrid buses as well as the estimations for older models. Weight for buses starts at five tonnes.

Fat Woman would understand if Personal Trainer hated her sometimes, but Fat Woman thinks that people should learn that data matters, and if Personal Trainer learns this now it will help him throughout the rest of his life. It will also circumvent the conversations where Personal Trainer announces that something is the size of a bus and Fat Woman demands to know what kind of bus and everyone gets annoyed that everyone else is so unreasonable.

The issue of eye dominance finally made Fat Woman reach for the calming herbal tea when she read an otherwise very good article on Shotgun Life on what women really want. Actually it was titled Five Things You Need To Know When Teaching A Woman How To Shoot A Shotgun. The writer says that 80% of women don't have eye dominance to match their dominant hand, unlike men. Fat Woman begs the lady's pardon but HOW DOES SHE KNOW? Fat Woman isn't going to go against the idea that lots of women aren't right eye dominant, but Good Gravy! To claim a four-fifths majority without data is utter presumption and reinforcing a stereotype to boot. Fat Woman was even told by a salesman that she was cross-dominant, which was utter rubbish. Fat Woman comes up right eye dominant in all the tests, whether at home or administered by the shooting coach.

Here's what Fat Woman wants you to know about women who are learning to shoot. When Fat Woman says "you" you might be forgiven for thinking she means "men" but actually lots of women have bought into the stereotypes and prejudices. Mostly she means "salespeople" in gun shops. Fat Woman has met some shockers.

(1) It is madly frustrating trying to learn to shoot when there isn't a gun in the world you can borrow that is anywhere near fitting you. It's like learning to ice skate in boots five sizes too big. When a women turns up and wants to buy her first gun it's highly unlike that she will have a perfect hold or mount. Why not? Because NO GUN BLOODY WELL FITS HER that's why. She's here to buy a gun so she can get it fitted to her. So don't form your opinions on the first time she picks up a shotgun in front of you, especially if it's a gun she's never had her hands on before. Of course her cheek won't be in the right place if she's never held a gun with a short enough stock.

(2) You need to drop your prejudices about women not being right-eye dominant. Okay, some of us might be left eye dominant, but peer reviewed research says under 20%. Also, 10% of people are left-handed.There is no way that we are most likely to be cross-dominant. Treat each of us as an individual and make sure you get your methods of checking correctly. More importantly, remember that we're beginners and might have done something wrong initially.

(3) Yes, guns might be a bit heavy, but what is this idea that women are ickle wickle dainty fings who can't heft a 12-bore? Anyone learning to shoot will suffer aching arms until they get used to it. Stop trying to push us into 20 bores all the ratting time. We will get used the weight like we would for any equipment for a new sport. We can even lift weights a little if we're that worried. If we want to shoot clays we'd like something that kicks less, even if it's a little heavier to hold.

(4) Newsflash: We have breasts. Well, we noticed you noticing that. Some of us have really large breasts. What this means is that going gun down is at best impractical and at worst plain stupid until we've got a gun that fits us. This is because the nice pointy toe of the stock is pointing in the wrong direction. The entire kickback of that gun is going into one teeny tiny point on us. Getting that gun mount right is hard enough, getting it right from gun down with something so ill-fitting is completely wrong. So stop trying to teach us how to go gun down in the middle of the saleroom or at the beginning of a lesson. We may never go gun down. It's fine by us and it's fine by the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association, so get knotted. Unless you're going to buy us some game shooting of course.

(5) You are allowed to talk to us as people. The most interesting thing about you so far as we're concerned is that you might offer useful shooting advice, or tell us where we can buy a pair of those really natty gloves. We're not out shooting because we want a torrid affair. Your wife surely understands that you won't be interested in the freaky female with her own 12 bore and a slightly unhealthy interest in niggly technical details such as the differences in shot pattern between cartridges. Although Fat Woman does look cute in her black flat cap, the effect is utterly ruined by the time she's added ear protectors, shooting glasses and her ugly green skeet vest. So you're safe, you can talk to Fat Woman. You can even talk to Fat Woman about guns. It's not like you have anything else in common, is it? Certainly not enough to make Fat Woman want to drag you off into the bushes. Not even if you have a Perazzi MX12 that you're prepared to lend.