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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox – Working it Out

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I’ve committed. Again. I’m going back to the gym. The place I swore I’d never step foot in. I’ve thought about it for about three years now so I guess it’s time. The personal trainers look so much younger this time around. Probably because they are. I swear the guy who did my consultation still had embryonic fluid on his shoulder. He was nearly full-term.

And they’ve all got beards. Even the girls. It must be a thing. Note to self: Grow a beard. It must help with fitness. Fortunately for me it’s not hard. I’m 49. I could grow one in a week.

I’m talking to this young bloke about wanting to get fit before menopause hits. I don’t even know why I’m telling him that. He’s probably only just grown leg hair, he’s not ready to hear dystopian tales of frozen metabolisms and shrivelled vaginas. (I must stop googling menopause, it’s terrifying me. It’s worse than climate change. Sure, the icebergs are melting, but exactly how does a vagina shrivel? Is it like some sort of deflated balloon you find after the party’s over? When I read through the symptoms, that was the one I couldn’t get over.)

I feel like I should be reading my personal trainer some Roald Dahl. Bounce him on my knee. That might actually be good for my core. He tells me his mum’s menopausal. Then I protest ‘I’m not menopausal’. I’m not even peri. I’m like one of those women from the Bible who kept having kids until they were 60 until some prick turned them into a pillar of salt. (I wonder if that’s saltier than Himalayan?)

Poor lad just wants to know my ‘goals’. I hate goals. Or at least telling people my goals. Because I don’t really have any. Well, at least any I’m prepared to share. Like those I had at school. ‘Well I am going to be prime minister. And cure cancer. And marry Steve Austin (the bionic man). And live in a castle.’

I can’t see how my $12.95 per week membership is going to help me with something my vision board couldn’t deliver. So I resort to humour. I tell him I was planning on getting fatter. He just looks at me blankly. Clearly I’m not getting funnier. At least to young people. Now I have to make up a goal.

If I’m honest I guess like most women my age my secret goal is to look like Elle McPherson. Except not the old Elle. The young one. So I tell him. He doesn’t know who Elle McPherson is. I say she’s a hot woman with menopause. I bet Elle’s vagina hasn’t shrivelled. I’m 50 next year. It’s weird, age has never meant anything to me, mainly because I’m so immature, but 50 feels like midnight. Like I am at the ball and the clock is about to strike 12. I have this feeling that if I don’t get my act together by 50 then I am going to turn into a pumpkin. With a shrivelled vagina.

Maybe that’s what Cinderella is all about. It’s a mythic tale about menopause and the devastating effects of ‘the change’. Don’t lose your glass slipper girls! The personal trainer has written some of this down. I’ve been talking for so long I think he’s blacked out.

Okay, so I am actually at the gym signing up. I’ve given my bank account details. I’ve told gym where I live. That’s part one. Now I have to actually go. More than once. How good would it be to just have to do one big workout for the year? ‘Okay then, that’s me done. Back to the buffet.’

It’s embarrassing because everyone knows me. I sneak in the next morning for a quiet workout and everyone says Hello, Mandy! Good to see you exercising! (Is this encouraging or patronising? I can’t work it out.) You’ll enjoy it! Like the whole exercise thing has just occurred to me. It may come as a shock, but I have exercised before. This is my 40th gym membership.

I seem to commit to a gym in the same way I’ve always committed to men. I’ve signed up with enthusiasm and high hopes but after a few sessions it just wasn’t delivering the results I was after so I lost interest going. As I write this I’ve been once. But I’m determined to go back. But you won’t recognise me. I don’t look like Mandy Nolan any more. I look like Elle McPherson.

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