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Kuwabara Kuwabara!*

I shifted my nursing career to fitness a few years ago, in the hope that the chances of being stressed out unnecessarily, would be at its minimum. And most of the time, everything goes smooth sailing.

In teaching and coaching, your main source of pressure is getting to your clients or class timely -or if you are a Zumba instructor, what Salsa music to use on your next playlist. Nice isn’t it?

However, prolonged periods of high sunshine creates thunderstorms. Every now and then, lightning strikes!

I was teaching one of my functional movement classes, showing off some moves where I focus more on ‘trying’ rather than actually achieving a move, flawlessly.

One of my students, who was already a regular to my classes, suddenly blurted out and refused to do the move altogether. I was curious about this new disposition. We’ve done the same move for weeks and she never protested, well not in that manner she manifested. I also knew she brought in someone to workout with her that day.

She said her body wasn’t proportionate with her arms. I disagreed nicely.

I said, “Try!”

She said, “No!” and sat on her mat watching the rest of the group attempting to carry on. (I name thee, mat tantrums!)

Didn’t push on her further as her body language and facial expressions were clearly not in my favour that time. All I needed was a curtain shower and a silhouette of someone with a knife to complete the scene! The rest of the class carried on as you all know by now, I see every one in class!

So after class, I decided to ask her if she’s ok. She said that she had multiple “medical” conditions which prevented her from doing the move I asked earlier. Again, I said I was familiar with all her pre-existing conditions ( as I screened them before) but they don’t affect the task I was asking her earlier. She said the moves are impossible. I pointed it out that she was progressing beautifully in the last few weeks and that the people she works out have shorter arms than she has (pointing to myself!). She mentioned this to me weeks before and briefed her on how best to approach it. I tried to ask and offer a quick assessment to see where she was having a challenge with but she started raising her voice saying that her body proportion wasn’t correct and that she would not want to unroll her mat again! She also blocked all my decent reasoning to explore the possibility of me helping her out. All my attempts were blatantly halted by a lot of negativity. Her male friend also tried to intervene but immediately told him that I am basing it on how I was seeing his friend move and just wanting to help out. Her friend was about to further defend her but I interrupted and pointed out that his friend was actually doing well up until that day.


In the end, I just offered her to stay in front of the class next time so we could find the best way for her to maximise her workout with her “limitations”. She had a bit of an eye roll. I thanked her and her friend for coming and to enjoy the rest of their evening.

So after everyone left, I found myself shaking -and with anger! I wasn’t really sure why. On the way home, I kept thinking and reflecting why I am really affected by it. I had more stressful confrontations in the past.

I kept asking whether I said something wrong or whether I should have said nothing at all. Also asking myself whether I have said enough it should have said less. And these thoughts went on and on and on.

This affected me too much that I wasn’t able to enjoy my food later that night. I wanted to know why I am reacting badly to such situation, especially with Zen-ish me!

So called it an early night.

Woke up with a better configuration and that ugly feeling gone. This new redemption did not make me stop thinking on why I reacted the way I did the day before though. This time, without the angst.

Firstly, I kept asking myself why I am still bothered with it. I particularly do not dislike her. I also wasn’t castrated in front of the class. Certainly, I wasn’t giving a bad instruction. Then I somehow seem to settle that it is because I was expecting everyone to think how I thought and that everyone one would have a go! I did not take into consideration that people could still resist change or appear to be ‘strong’ in front of their loved ones or friends. I forgot to take into account that she may have told this significant person with her during the class that she’s probably better or lesser abled in their midst. Due to our social distancing, my “hands-on” approach wasn’t there. Maybe it would have worked better if I can have physical contact and guide her through. (At least with this justification, I could blame Covid-19) However, I knew I am a good coach and could conjure a spell, even with a stare. (Well, almost!)

I may never really fully realise the reasons for my reactions but the fact that my prolonged thinking about it made me realise that these things do happen. Maybe sometimes, some arguments are better left unattended and some remarks need not to be entertained. Maybe she has other issues and found the best moment to bring it out that time was, towards me!

In the future, I would need to make sure that I do not take things maybe not personally and focus on the rest of the class, who were actually taking all those good tuition seriously. Maybe I was focusing more on the lost lamb too much.

I just hope she finds her way back in my classes and not waste her efforts wasted. There are times, and I’ll talk about this again in the future, that people around you affect your productivity in all aspects of your life.

For the meantime, I will try to find ways on not creating electrical charges whilst teaching.

*”Kuwabara kuwabara” (桑原桑原) is a phrase used in the Japanese language to ward off lightning.

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For the last 14 years or so, I have been living in a basement flat -(i.e. apartment U.S.), at the heart of Notting Hill in London UK.  Just made me realise that living in it have changed my mindset.

First of all, basements have their own weather systems.  Nice summer’s day outside means 7-8 °C off in my place!  That is actually quite a good thing -until winter comes when you spend your time making sure you do not end up having frostbite!  Again, just like the rainforest, the levels of humidity is usually quite higher, encouraging damp, mould and peeling wallpapers.  So, I have a dehumidifier in kitchen and toilet as it goes under the street.  However, my main room is deprived of humidity that I need a humidifier.  The toll on my skin and breathing sometimes could be quite impactful.

However, they are the quietest place to live in. It is also dark especially when the lights go out. Perfect for sleeping – up until you get up in the middle of the night, navigating blindly towards the toilet and sustaining some bruises in the morning.  You usually get diminished road-driven noises  from passing cars (or screeching teenagers!).  Sounds exciting, until you find out that your flat is placed near the building’s boilers!  So every time, someone uses hot water for their washing up, shower or laundry, it starts to rumble. Then, just to make the soup a bit more spicy, the flat above me has their sewer pipe going through the other side of my wall!  So, every time something goes down the pipe, it feels like a stampede!  Sometimes the boiler and the stampede just goes together.  Then the humidity…feels like Jumanji!  So imagine me on my first week in the flat!  A spear on one hand and an umbrella just in case!  Then when the cat moved in about 7 year ago, I had to teach him on how not to do a “Cirque du Soleil” every time the great flusher went!

Tommy on the steps

Now, I do not have a garden but I have some steps leading to the pavement (i.e. sidewalk U.S.) which caters to my container-gardening.  All sounds good but there’s one more thing I failed to mention – all the buildings’ rubbish bins (i.e. garbage U.S.) are just located opposite my nice big windows!  I have a rubbish cavern. Although we have  a very good rubbish collection from the Council, the stench during a heated day could be empowering.  There are also some lazy unbothered residents who decide to do a hammer throw towards the bins sometimes.  So everyday, I water the plants and tidy after these “athletes”.  I am not kidding but I did witness a flying used prophylactic just thrown out from the 4th floor flat!  I had to report it to the landlord with a giggle.  He followed it up with a building memo not to let their excitement fly out of the window and/or flushed down.  Good for me as it minimises the stampede.  Either or, it would have affected me.  To be fair, there are 3 basement flat-bin areas in the building.  However, in comparison, my share seem to be always full.  I did a survey (basically nosing someone using my bins) and she said that the steps leading to my area was always nice and inviting -and my cat always says hello on the steps!  So, I maybe at fault in a  way for causing all these rubbish!

So, how did living in this place help me?  I looked at things differently.  If I want to know the weather, I could not rely solely on “Alexa” (Amazon device) but would need to go check things outside before I get dressed.  I have to desensitise myself to the thunderous pipes and the mild seismic activity of the boiler.  Even the cat got used to it in the end. So when I am somewhere noisy, I could tolerate noise better than other people would and block people off deliberately.  I became more creative, turning dingy areas into an oasis (and I’ll show this later on!).  Also, embraced being Victorian in winter and somewhat dressed like Tarzan in a  heatwave!  All sexy!

So basically, you appreciate things more when you go out!  Remember, I look at out on a white wall and just a foot of that, the bins!  So, when you see me doing a Sound of Music in Hyde Park, you know why!

I do love my basement flat!


P.S. In the EU/UK, the Groundfloor is not the 1st floor.  Anything lower than a basement, could be a cellar.  Lower than that? Worrying.