My first thought when I booked a trampoline class was ‘should I wear two bras?’
When I turned up for the class with photographiste and videographer Caroline, instructor Joy was finishing the youth class. I explained what I was doing and one young girl turned to her mother and said: ‘You should do something like that.’ I smiled apologetically at the mother.
Three more women joined the class – all regulars and more proficient than me.
Joy sat at one end of the trampoline and we took it in turn to bounce before her. She tailored the instruction according to our experience and confidence, breaking down some of the moves, and demonstrating the more tricky routines.
Chatting to the other women it became clear they’d all been gymnasts as children. Joy and two others had been regulars at a gymnastics club in Lewisham and loved it. Joy had represented Lewisham in championships: ‘There were three of us. We used to compete with each other and almost took it in turn to win each competition.’
I asked where the club had been – above Boots, opposite the largest police station in Europe. ‘I used to work in Boots. You must’ve been in a class above me while I was stocking shelves,’ Caroline said. We talked about popular the classes had been and how sad it was there were now fewer opportunities for young people in Lewisham.
In between our chats, Joy had been getting me to bounce on the spot, bounce higher, try knee tucks, star jumps, and a forward roll. Then she tried to get me to do a seat drop. I managed the drop. But bouncing back up was beyond me: I bounced over on my side or ended up on my back with my legs somewhere above or behind my head. The latest in a long line of undignified moments.
To break the uneasy silence, I laughed, loudly, and everyone joined in. Clambering off the trampoline I confessed to Caroline I was more worried about farting than I was about undignified landings.
For my last bounce, Joy told me to put together the three elements I’d successfully managed to do. She encouraged me to bounce higher and I did. A bit. I relaxed and almost started to enjoy it. When I’d finished, Caroline said: ‘You looked so much more confident compared to the start of the class. And you were bouncing so much higher.
I watched the rest of the class sail up in the air, effortlessly turning somersaults and twists, while chatting to Joy. I knew this would never be a sport for me and I started to fret about the other gymnastic routines ahead of me. I confided in Joy that the other gymnastics events wouldn’t be pretty but she was more interested in another event: ‘You’re doing the diving? I want to come and see you do that! You let me know, right?’
I suspect the diving and gymnastics events will be hot tickets.
Gymnastics – trampoline: 27 August 2015
Downham Health & Leisure Centre
Cost: £5.50 per hour