Pump is this thing that perhaps shouldn’t have ever been invented; that might go against the natural bent of everything.

Pump class 8

It involves a lot of bending, see, and lifting things – all the things you might do when moving house, except you’re not moving house. You’re in a small, brightly lit room with a number of other women in Primark singlets and Nike shoes and you’re all thinking: “How did we come to be here on a Monday night? Where did it all go wrong?”

A Pump class lasts an hour, though it may feel like you’ve been trapped in a sweaty and loud eternity, where Taylor Swift is sped up and the girl in front of you keeps farting every time she squats and the class leader keeps reminding you that you will have done 1000 squats by the end of the hour, which means you will have died from methane inhalation. This is what that hour is like.

MINUTE ONE:

Arrive. Adjust hair in mirrors that cover 3 of 4 walls. Admire lipstick. Decision to wear lipstick to Pump: a good one. You look lovely. Re-lace shoes for something to do.

MINUTE TWO:

Realise everyone is setting up. Copy girl in front. Mat, bench. Weights. Smallest weights. Everyone else has bigger weights. Add more weights. Girl to the right looks condescending. You are AT LEAST as strong as her if not STRONGER. YOU CAN CLIMB MOUNTAINS (PROBABLY, IF YOU HAD EVER HAD TIME TO TRY) More weights.

MINUTE THREE:

Warm up commences. Woman leading class is wearing skintight red and looks like Jessica Jones. Her name is Cordelia. “Call me Cordy”. You love her.

MINUTE FIVE:

Rethink choice of 10kg warm-up weight. Class has been in session for three minutes and arms have seized up like refrigerated salami. Cordelia asks, “Are you warm yet?!” You are. You are warm. Your veins are tiny rivers of molten pain and you have just realised that where your biceps should be are actually balls of mozzarella. Delicious but so very ineffectual.

Pump class

MINUTE SEVEN:

Squat track commences. “Heaviest weight on your bar, three times your warm-up weight,” sings Cordelia. You hate her. You ignore. Teeny tiny weights and nose in the air. You are going to boss this track. Squatting is easy. You do it all the time in nightclubs when you don’t want to touch the seat.

MINUTE EIGHT:

Have realised that mirror unfortunately reflects the fact that your squat is approx one eighth the depth of everyone else, as well as the fact that your weights are baby weights. Mirrors man, who put them in here? The shakes begin. Everyone is farting. Everyone is farting. Everyone is farting. This is how you’re going to die.

MINUTE TWELVE:

Can’t remember last three minutes at all. May have briefly died. BUT chest track means lying down! Maybe can briefly sleep! Nap time!

MINUTE THIRTEEN:

Cordelia informs you that napping is frowned up and that your sweat towel is not a blanket. Have new hatred for Uptown Funk, due to swift rhythm. Well and truly funked up. Farting has, mercifully, ceased.

MINUTE SEVENTEEN:

Back track! Not as in, made wrong decision, immediately leave gym and go and watch pre-recorded Geordie Shore, but as in TRACK FOR EXERCISING BACK. Clean and jerk, which makes you feel strong, and which also has a name that makes you laugh. Cordelia informs you that laughing is frowned upon.

Pump class 2

MINUTE TWENTY ONE:

Triceps track! What are triceps? Thought they were used during difficult births. Tricep dips, pulsing, which makes it look like entire class of lycra clad women are having energetic sex with the floor. Have never had sex this energetic. May well never have sex again.

MINUTE TWENTY TWO:

Maybe can pretend to leave to fill drink bottle and never come back? Ever?

MINUTE TWENTY EIGHT:

TOO TIRED TO FIND DOOR

Pump class 4

MINUTE THIRTY ONE:

Bicep track. Standing very still to discourage rivelets of sweat from trickling between butt cheeks. Discretely check mirror for butt cheek sweat marks. Not discrete; small woman to left thinks you are admiring her. She frowns. She is lifting 4 times the weight you are. Admirable.

Pump class 7

MINUTE THIRTY SIX:

Lunges, or “Bend your knees to 90 degree angles until you are sure you will never walk again”. Picturing toppling over like celulitey Nike domino, taking whole class with you. Like a Nike ad, only shit. Laugh. Cordelia frowns. Pump is not funny. More farting.

Pump class 5

MINUTE FORTY TWO:

Shoulder track! At last! All that training of reaching into cupboard for SHreddies and/or holding onto rails on tube coming in handy! Am queen! Am brilliant!

MINUTE FORTY TWO AND A HALF:

Wrong, very wrong.

MINUTE FORTY SEVEN:

Lie on floor. Possibly am finally being allowed to die but: abs. You have no abs. They are nowhere. Chris Hemsworth stole all the abs in the world and left you with none and that is not your fault. Gently twitch shoulder blades from floor in approximation of sit up. Wee a bit. Exercise is glamorous.

Pump class 3

MINUTE FIFTY:

STRETCHING. Stretching is horrible, but means that your ordeal is nearly done. Nothing bends. Make mistake of bending over in front of the mirror. Everything is mighty, visibly, damp. This is why the floors are wipe clean.

Pump class 6

MINUTE FIFTY FIVE:

Try to leave without putting away kit. Get told off. Am very bad Pumper. The worst. Am terrible. Might vomit. Why.

MINUTE FIFTY SEVEN:

Cordelia waves the class goodbye. Wave back, feeling sudden feelings of strength and pride and genius. Endorphins, this is what they are. Endorphins and relief and also certainty that will never ever come back.

Look at face in mirror. Have face like angry Donald Trump, and lipstick everywhere. Everywhere. Like have been painted by toddler. Cruel toddler. Everything is cruel. Life is terrible. Pump. Why. How. Why. 

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