Back in the heady days of the 1970’s, before litigation ruined everything, Gladstone’s kids were rounded up once a week and dragged down to the National Fitness club in Auckland Street; if they could find, and catch, us that is.
Now, the people running this gymnastics, exercise, torture club firmly believed that fit kids were happy kids, and they did their best to make us very, very happy indeed; even if it killed us.
‘It was always funnier when someone else got hurt…’
Nearly every beginner miscalculated their first leap off the springboard and slammed into the side of the timber vaulting horse like a splattered gecko. And each week at least one poor wretch would end up draped awkwardly over some immovable object, gurgling in agony as their eyes crossed and uncrossed.
It was always funnier when someone else got hurt, because once, after a particularly enthusiastic trampoline backflip, I landed with a leg either side of a large spring and my crotch enmeshed in the coils. It took them ages to untangle me, but my screams got a lot of laughs.
I’m still amazed that I managed to father children.
We eventually learned quite a lot of skills, including some useful medical procedures, but mostly what I learned was that no matter how badly injured you were, the coaches would cheerfully lift you up, clap you on the back, then shove you back in line for another shot at the title.
So, National Fitness turned me into the man I am today; healthy-ish, fit-ish and terrified of trampolines.