Yesterday as I was cursing the spinning instructor for insisting I use muscles I didn’t know I had to save energy, I thought she had lost the plot.
Saving energy seemed the most unlikely outcome for all the effort it took to apply these untrained muscles to a cycling routine. Raised heart rate and an opportunity to confront my fitness or lack thereof were much more on track.
Nonetheless, I was enjoying myself and got to thinking about all the other sweaty pursuits I had participated in with greater or lesser skill.
At school, I played, netball, squash and hockey – even made the athletics team at age 13; at varsity I ventured into badminton and once or twice allowed my roommate to drag me out of bed for a jog around the block.
Post university, I was keen to learn modern dancing, something I had yearned for from a very young age. I loved dancing, first modern, cotemporary and later Latin and Ballroom with a skill rating of average in all instances.
Mid-career I bought a fitness franchise to supplement my income. The franchise provided members with a running or walking programme tailored to fitness levels.
I had to learn how to instruct the programme and all the terminology that went along with it.
It was the first time I came across the word fartlek. It sounded like a way to release flatulence on a long run, and then blaming the person behind you. I laughed as I visualised thousands of runners in an athletics heat trying to surge ahead to escape the foul air.
But fartlek is a programme that includes interval training. Alpha dictionary describes it as an athletic training regime. Fartlek is also listed as one of the funniest words in the English language, ranking in the top 50. https://www.alphadictionary.com/articles/100_funniest_words.html
I am always delighted to find new words and explore their meanings, but I must admit that an athletics training manual was the last place I expected to find a word to add to my vocabulary.