The penultimate lesson…a beginners guide!

14 Nov

So…It’s my penultimate lesson – my last one is 15th November!

Blog Post Number 3:

Taekwondo 5th lesson!

Will actually be sorry to leave – I really wanna keep doing the self defence part of it, so may see if I could perhaps come along to those lessons in future!

This lesson there were 3 new people and a white belt who hadn’t been doing it long – score! I wasn’t the only newbie anymore!! I actually felt quite advanced too (pah yea that’s just kidding myself!?) at being able to do some of the moves while the 3 newbies watched and were taught.

After the warm up we split off into groups; the rest of the club went to carry on with some more advance versions of what we did last week. Us ‘newbies’ were taken off to the side and given a very thorough introductory lesson – it was quite nice as I learnt some things as a beginner again that I, being the only new one for a while, didn’t get a chance to do before.

The instructor, one of the black belts, told us the background about Taekwondo, and taught us some basic moves, such as the correct way of punching, standing – at ease, ready, stance, turn around – the correct way to move and punch and the respectfulness of the art (you must bow when entering and leaving the hall, and bow when the class has ended to thank your instructor). Me and the girl who was a white belt stood at the front while he was showing us as an example to the newbies – I’ve never been at the front of the line (you form lines going up by belt colour – Black belt front, white or yellow belt back) so this was quite exciting!

He taught us how you should hold your fist (thumb under and hit with the first two knuckles) and you must always kick with a flexed foot otherwise you can hurt your toes (yes it does hurt). We then used the punch pad and lined up to practise our kicks and punches from our correct stance/holding positions.

At first we did it a couple of times to get the hang of it, then we had to give it some welly! And I found out with the football style kick that it can hurt your foot quite badly if you don’t hit it on the front of your foot properly and instead hit your toes! We tried a few on each side, left and right, kicks and punches. Some getting it better than others (I think the newbies have done some other contact sport of some kind cos they could hit and kick pretty damn hard!) This summed up most of the lesson, we just kept practicing different kicks and punches against

the pad. I did enjoy having a beginners lesson, even though it was towards the end of my 6 lessons it was nice to go back to the beginning after doing some of the harder things – and I find I have been given the opportunity to try out all aspects of the sport, from beginner, to hard routines and blocks/kicks to self-defence – all of it has been eye opening and thoroughly enjoyable! So…I shall revisit my blog after my last lesson…I’m hoping the newbies will turn up!

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Self Defence and Blocking: The Saturday Night Punch…

14 Nov

Blog Post Number 2:

Taekwondo 4th lesson!

Today’s lesson involved another intense warm-up where I was helped through by a member of the club. We then got paired off (I was with a guy who hadn’t been in a while, but think he was quite a high-up coloured belt) and we went through some blocking routines 1, 2 and 3 (we did try 4th but I couldn’t remember it!)

These basically involved an attacker who punched, and a victim who blocked those punches. For the attacker it normally involved 3 Fist lead arm straight punches towards the victim, and for the victim it involved blocking these 3 punches and a lead arm straight punch towards the attacker at the end – aimed at their torso, nose or a chop to the neck (known as a Knife Hand Strike to the Neck). I particularly liked that move!

The blocks were an outward block, an inward block and perhaps a low block? I wasn’t too sure, all I knew was that it was tricky remembering which way you had to put your arm and which arm you started with to end in the correct position! And as they were all kind of the same (just with your arm/fist facing a different way) they merged into each other so when it was time to do 1, I was doing 2 instead and such likes!

This pretty much filled the lesson and we both had fun trying to remember things, me the routine and my co-ordination again, and the guy helping me had to think how to teach me, which is hard as when he was teaching me say, the blocks, he had to do the punches, and vice versa – so it was oodles of co-ordination problems!

Then towards the end of the lesson we started doing some more self-defence – this time it was how to defend yourself against the ‘Saturday Night Punch’. Which is what most guys pull when in drunken brawls! It was pretty simple to do but it was quite hard again to achieve the right level of intensity and sharpness to the move, particularly as this move involved pushing up the neck of the attacker – which is very hard for someone with a lack of height added to the mixture!! I spent most of my time hiking up the neck on my tiptoes – even then it wasn’t a strong enough grasp – so I had a go on a black-belt kid who was more my height – much better!!

This move basically involved blocking the punch as it came towards you, twisting their arm and your arm round theirs – and grabbing them around the neck and pushing it up, so you have them in a locked tight grip so they can’t make another attempt, and you can basically be like – do you really wanna continue mate?!

We practiced this for a while and then Rob showed us a few more additions to this move that can get them on the ground and stop them from any other attack towards you. But we didn’t have time to practise this – I was quite glad as it looked pretty damn harsh!

Seeya next lesson!

Self-Defence hurts!

14 Nov

So…I’ve fallen behind on my blogging duties and I’m now going to do 3 blog posts…

Blog Post Number 1:

Taekwondo 3rd lesson!

So today’s lesson started with a little routine/structured work, as a part of the warm up. There were lots of kicks, punches and the routine I had learnt in week one (Four Directional Punching).

We then grouped together with Rob and it was time for some self-defence!

Rob started off by showing us a few moves to get practising on. Obviously this was stuff that all the other belts had done before so they were just refreshing, but I hadn’t done this before so got paired with Jo, a black belt.

He showed us where pressure points were for this particular move – it was a move to get yourself out of an attack if someone grabbed you from the front. It’s very difficult to explain – perhaps I can try and get a video of two people doing it at my next/last session! He then showed us each section in the technique and we went away and practiced on each other.

The main pressure points were on the arm that has grabbed you (near the crease in your elbow – side of the arm) and you had to chop this with the bone of your wrist (arm on it’s side), which would then reduce the attacker to a crouch (hitting the pressure point automatically makes their legs give out), making them vulnerable.

I will have you know, that when applied with the right amount of force – this hurts! My arm was red by the end of being the attacker and my wrist hurt when I was the victim! It’s also good to grab hold of the attackers wrist before doing this chop, as there are pressure points here to, and you have more control over the attacker. I guess in a way the technique we learnt was a Freeing technique, as it allowed you to free yourself from grip of the attacker so that you could run away.

We then also learnt further moves in this technique that would enable you to then go on to hit the pressure points in their neck, their face etc, (yes this hurts!) and throw/twist them to the ground – all from just one arm grab!

I was a little uncertain at first, as I’d never done anything like this before, and it took me a while to apply the right amount of pressure and act quick enough – I was afraid of hurting Jo and myself – but as they both said, in a real situation you wouldn’t be thinking that! However at the end I came out feeling like I had really learnt something useful and found it so eye-opening – I actually realized that in an attack – I probably wouldn’t last or survive more than 2 seconds!! So I’m considering taking a few self-defence lessons to help me out after this challenge is over!

Can’t master the punch but CAN master the Green-Belt kicks!

20 Oct

Tuesday 18th October

2nd Taekwondo Lesson

Tonight’s lesson started with a pretty hefty warm-up by Jo –  a 2nd degree Dan (black belt). It not only included the usual warm up routines but also various levels and variations on core strength exercises!! Man alive I was not used to those since the good old days of Fitness and Flexibility classes at Dance, needless to say – I could only keep up with the counts of the lower belts!

Then we all stood in our respective lines and took part in some moves which we repeated to the end of the hall and back again. Jo was very good in helping me get the hang of some of them – apparently they were quite advanced! But she then took it down a notch for me and made me do the simplified/beginners versions or stop at the section of the routine before it became complex and just repeated that section.

We then broke off so that she could go through some more complex routines with the more experienced of the group, whilst another teaching black belt took me to one side and went through some of the basic rountines I went through last week – but this time perfecting each movement – hand placements, where to position your arms and legs, where you should turn your head – seriously, it looks so easy, but when you do it – your arms and legs are all over the place! Because the moves are quite similar, but so strict, its hard to remember what foot your moving which way, what way the fist should be turned, and which arm is over the other, before you place them in which position?!…I think I will be practising this for some time!!

Then we all headed back into our lines and the head instructor , Rob, 5th Dan, started the kicking session! Now this is more like it! Hopping from one foot to the other (kind of like the move boxers do between punches), he built up a kick routine that had to be repeated on both legs, and he kept adding more until he told that belt group that they could stop, so each kick was up to a certain level. He showed me individually how to do the first 3 and yay I GOT IT!

Jo, 2nd degree dan, Bath TKD

So the routine started with, Front Kick, Side Kick, Back Kick – this was the basic everyone did, then yellow belt stopped at the next kick which was a flick kick straight to the front after the back kick (btw all of these kicks had to be one after the other so the foot could not touch the ground inbetween – que major balancing problems!) Then Green belt was a rotating front kick, then I kinda didn’t really see any of the other kicks – especially the ones the black belts did – as they were so fast and long they just merged into each other!! But I was proud that on my first attempt I’d managed up to green belt level, especially as Rob had said I didn’t have to go past the first 3 if I didn’t want to! woohoo!

So this lesson – I’ve learnt my self defence technique is better when kicking, than when punching/blocking/conducting a strict routine! At least I’m beginning to find areas I can work on to improve, and also areas I enjoy and know I can develop in more!

P.S – I was reading a piece on Taekwondo by Jo earlier on the Bath TKD website – its a really good piece explaining the benefits of the sport, why she went into it and what she does and enjoys about it. If you’d like to take a look please do click here – it really is quite interesting!

Tae-Kwo-ordination!

11 Oct

So it’s now 11th October – can you believe I’m already 5 months into my challenge, and 4 sports in?! My fourth sport is the art of Tae-Kwon-Do and I’m conducting my 6 weeks on a Tuesday, with Bath Tae Kwon Do club based at Culverhay sports centre. The adult team are very welcoming and really friendly even though everyone else was belts above me and they all helped at some stage!

Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae  means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon  means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”, “method”, or “art”. Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the art of the foot and fist” or “the art of kicking and punching.” It combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, and in some cases meditation and philosophy.

My first lesson started with a grading presentation (they had had gradings last week) where those who had achieved high marks and a new grade recieved their certificate and exchanged their belt for the new colour representing their grade. The junior level starts at tenth geup (a white belt) and advance toward first geup ( a red belt with a black stripe). The senior level is made up of nine ranks. These ranks are called dan, also referred to as “black belts” (as in “third dan” or “third-degree black belt”). Black belts begin at first degree.

After these had been given out I was introduced to Emily, who had just recieved her green belt and she was to help guide me through the warm up. Luckily for me, the instructor started with some hard moves – que a very un-coordinated Christina!  We all had to center ourselves in lines and pretty much from then on, it was a jumble of controlled punches, kicks, turns and sounds like “huh!”,  “hoosh”, “oof”.  Emily was very good and helped teach me each move even though it took me a while to grasp, and by the time I had grasped it, they’d moved onto an even weirder move! I was also having difficulty with my left and right and putting my arms in the right place! The instructor came around and helped my posture a little and told me to “tuck those thumbs in” or in combat I’d break them – so I’m definately tucking them in! The warm up also included press-ups – jesus christ!

It was then time for the different belts to showcase their different Patterns. So we all sat in a circle and it went from black belt pattern down to yellow belt pattern. It was extremely interesting to watch as they were so co-ordinated and controlled with their moves – and these patterns were in no way easy!

Then we broke off into groups and one lot went to do Sparring – ‘free-form’ fighting – and I went off with the Yellow belts to practise a basic pattern/form. The pattern was a circular motion, to the left and to the right. It involved you performing a lunge position with your legs (say the left leg bent) and punching your left arm straight out – fist facing down, and your right arm pulling in to your waist – fist facing up.

Then turning to the right, move the left leg in and out in front of you in a lunge position again, repeating the right arm technique and extending your left arm in a low block – as though you are blocking a kick away from your right leg.

Low Block

This is repeated with your right leg and arm, and then you can also do a cross block instead of a low block, where your block arm, instead of being straight defending your leg, is bent in front of your chest with your fist up in the air (as if to block a punch towards your chest).

Cross Block

I repeated these moves until I understood which was my left, and which was my right and basically just got the hang of the basic art of Taekwondo for the rest of the lesson. Then one final fitness test at the end of the class – in pairs – jump over the other persons legs for a minute – christ is it easier than it looks!!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first lesson and can’t wait for next weeks class to try putting my new moves into a bigger pattern! Ha! That’s if I even remember them from today’s lesson – I shall have to keep practising…!

An Underwater Adventure (or near death experience?)!

20 Jul

So, it’s a bit late as I’m now 5 weeks into it but I’ve started my next challenge which is. . . SWIMMING! WOOOOOOOOOO (or not) My first session was tough – very tough!! I couldn’t believe how UNFIT I was – I was huffing and puffing and moaning and groaning – a 50m pool is tough going when your not a strong swimmer – let alone having not swam for YONKS! I am currently doing one hour a week followed by a few half hour sessions at the gym each week here and there.

The poor coach bless him, he was trying so hard to help me and get me more confident going underwater, but I was just having none of it – he even let me borrow a float and his goggles so I could practise my breathing underwater – did it help? Maybe but I’m still not seeing much improvement! However I can now swim for a solid hour – which is amazing considering how badly my first session went! So my aim for these last 3 weeks is to just get fitter and try to swim as much as possible, as well as I possibly can!

I would put pictures and videos up – but really, swimming isn’t the best thing to document via those methods! Camera by water…me in a Bikini with no makeup looking like I’m about to die – nope not happening! So unfortunately this sport is undocumented!

I haven’t decided what my next sport after Thailand will be. . .as it’ll start getting into the winter months maybe I’ll take the indoor ones? Maybe give Archery a go in Autumn, then Tennis, Fencing, Judo and Taekwondo in the winter, with Rowing, Canoeing and Equestrian in Spring 2012?

I’ve also joined up to the gym recently – started Yoga (yup thats exactly how I look doing it!), Pilates, Zumba, Swimming and Gyming, so my fitness levels should hopefully increase for the more adventurous sports – such as rowing! Other than that there’s not much of an update atm peeps – oh I need to book my next horse-riding session – so that may be my next post. Check back after Thailand for more sporting goodness! xxxx

The wonderful thing about Tiggers…They’re bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy – Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!

13 Jun

So Friday 10th June was mine and Yvette’s last bounce together at Comberton Tiggers! (But don’t worry on Monday 20th June I start coached Swimming lessons over 8 weeks, for some more blogging joy!)

We have both thoroughly enjoyed it – I can’t speak for Yvette but I know I definately want to carry it on – even if it’s only every other week while I complete the other sports. It’s been a pleasure being taught by Andie and I’ve learnt so much in only 4 weeks!!

For our lesson we perfected some of the moves we’d learnt before, and Andie taught me a new one – a twisted seatdrop – basically a half turn straight down into a seat-drop. It took me ages to get my head around it before i could figure out how to make my body do it – its one thing to watch someone else do it but then my brain just couldn’t work it out! lol

Andie then told us to work on a 10 bounce routine incorporating all of the moves we’d learnt, for the remainder of the lesson; which is much harder than it sounds! We were so puffed out by the end I thought I was gonna have a heart attack, and putting the moves one after the other makes alot of room for error – for example, I was coming out of a twist into a seat drop but somehow it went wrong and I ended up literally doing a flip! lol I got a nasty neck-snap from it!

So in the end I managed to piece together a rountine, which went like such…(a seat-drop is classed as two bounces, first 3 bounces don’t count)

3 preperatory bounces into twisted seat-drop, bounce, straddle, pike, bounce, full turn, bounce, seat drop, bounce, tuck, finish (it was slightly over 10 bounces but it looked damn good at the end!) hehe I still need to work on a few moves though (I still can’t get my seat-drops right) but then I suppose thats why I need to continue! Perhaps one day I’ll be twisting and flipping? pah whatever!

As most of you know I’m relocating to Bath for a new job, so I’m throwing myself in the deep end by starting a new sport too! Therefore my next Gold Challenge sport is on Monday 20th June when I will start Swimming lessons – yikes! – for 8 weeks!! Until next week folks…!

“Christ I just blancmanged…wobble!”

15 May

So here’s the exciting thing, we were allowed to film each other and some of the other competition-level trampolinists and below is enough bounce-action to keep u all going til next time! 😀 As I know this is what you were all hotly anticipating…us making an arse of ourselves – which I did fantasically! lol

Friday saw the 2nd lesson in Trampoline and it also saw Yvette’s first lesson. We both went over what I did in last weeks lesson whilst Yvette caught up and I had to teach Yvette some of the things – which was scary considering I’d only learnt how to do them a week ago! But Andie is big on getting people to coach whilst side-lining when it’s someone elses go. Yvette did pretty well! Obviously we’re still beginners so still a bit touch and go in places but I think we’ve gotta get over the fact that it feels higher than it actually is – cos it is the height that puts u off and makes u muck up positions! lol


Towards the end Andie taught me how to do a front drop using a crash mat which is used whenever anyone tries a new move that  requires a hard drop on a trampoline, (like a flip or twist – u should have seen my face when she brought it out and I was thinking – no not a flip im not ready yet!) as I know from experience it damn hurts if you don’t do it properly! I managed it quite well and practised turning it from a crouched bounce and drop to a crouched bounce, drop and return (onto feet)!

Defying Gravity! The first Trampoline Lesson…

7 May

So, last night was the first of what may be many trampoline lessons; I loved it so much I think I may just have to keep it on!

I’ve signed up for a half-term (4 weeks) with Comberton Tiggers, with the opportunity to extend to a full term at the beginning of June. When I arrived (after a full tour of the leisure centre due to me getting lost), I was faced with 4 massive trampolines and lots of bouncing, twisting, twirling and giggling young trampolinists! Luckily I wasn’t in this group, as even 5 year olds could bounce better than I could ever bounce! So once they had finished it was time for the adult group. I was introduced to the head coach, Andie and commenced some warm-up activities.

In last nights group there was me, three other girls (ages 15, 17 and 20) and one adult guy. As there were four trampolines we trained on a rotation so everyone got a break and everyone got several sessions with Andie. At first I was taught the basics by the guy (I can’t remember his name oops – lets just call him John Doe for now). He taught me how to bounce safely (arms down, toes pointed) and how to get some height (arms up when jumping, arms coming down to your side when returning). He then showed me how to stop safely (using your knees, when returning you bend them). I had to always fix on a spot straight ahead of me and only face in one direction unless twisting. I then used the next 15 minutes or so to practise some basic moves such as a Straddle Jump, Pike Jump, Tuck Jump and Seat Drop, to do these you have to put in 3 preparational bounces first to get a little bit (not too much) height:

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I then had a session with Andie who tried to get me to perfect these moves as she got out of me that I used to dance (“You’re not a beginner are you? I can tell you’ve done some kind of form work before because you have that posture and elegance in your jumps – swimming – dance? You can’t call yourself a beginner if you’ve done dance before – now do those moves like you would in dance!) Andie is a tough coach lol but she’s right, I could do these moves when I danced so I should be capable on a Trampoline – however, these are no normal trampolines – they shoot you way higher than normal! It was tough but eventually I started perfecting them to Andie’s approval! I totally didn’t expect to stretch myself as far as I did and it made me realise that I hadn’t lost my flexability at all, it was all still there but I had to feel weightless to take the pressure and stretch off the muscle. So after a bit more jumping and move perfecting she then got me to do a half and full turn (basically like a Pirouette but without the turning out of the legs). At first I started with my arms up to focus on the turn, and then after I got the hang of it I started with my arms down, throwing them up at the point of turn and then bringing them down again when returning.

The rest of the lesson was basically learning how to perfect these moves myself until I had got some confidence to put them into a routine – that means combining all the moves together with one or two bounces in between – it was god damn hard!! Being able to control my jumps (not get too much height) to be able to put in the moves and keep it steady was really challenging and I only managed to do a full set once without any hiccups – but hey – I guess its pretty good for a first time eh? lol

I must say though, the three girls (who are all at competition level) were something to aspire to – some of their routines were amazing! Next week Yvette is joining me and so there WILL be videos of us both practising AND pictures as I’ll have someone to take em! lol So until next time, k k k keep, b b b b bouncing!

P.S – I ache like hell today – but Andie did warn me I would… Great. . .

Horse Riding Assessment Lesson – AKA Legs of Steel!

1 May

It’s May 1st 2011, and my Gold Challenge has officially started! Today at 11am was my first ever Horse Riding Lesson. I’ve ridden Donkey’s on the beach before, but never a horse. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous, but in actual fact it was really easy and calming, and I quickly realised I had nothing to be nervous about – I absolutely loved it!

My instructor was called Becky and she was very friendly and welcoming! I came completely unprepaired – although I was told I was wearing the correct clothing – sum leggings and a vest top and cardy – however I didn’t have a riding hat, riding boots or gloves yet, so the Equine centre have very kindly let me borrow them for each of the lessons. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of me kitted up but I will have some next lesson – I just thought as its the first time its a bit cheeky to ask her to take a picture while she’s teaching a complete beginner! lol

So once I was all kitted up and ready, I was introduced to my horse. She was a cute brown horse called Jola, very calm and laid back and she looked very tired bless her – this is good though, as I think a horse with too much energy for my first lesson would be a little scary!  The below picture is of some of the stables and Jola is the horse right at the end!

So, once I was all kitted up Becky talked me through some safety measures, the kit of the horse and how to walk her through to the inside training room. When leading the horse you clasp the reins in two places, your right hand just to the side of the horses head, and your left hand further down the reins by your hips. Once inside we then went through the Horse Tack – how to fasten the saddle, the stirrups and Briddle. You fasten the saddle twice – once before you are on and once after, as your weight can alter its tightness, this is felt by putting your hand under the fastner to check it is very tight. The Stirrups need to be the right length – you measure this by putting your hand at the top where they are fastened to the saddle, and if the stirrup tucks neatly under your arm, its the correct length, if not you adjust it.

Next was learning how to mount a horse. Becky gave me a demonstration first and then it was my turn!! eak! So I climbed onto the mounting stool and made sure my left foot was in a stirrup and my left hand was clutching the reins together at the base of Jola’s neck. I then placed my right hand on the top of the saddle and swung myself over! Considering how tiny I was compaired to the horse it was a very successful mount and I did it in one sweep! Once in the saddle the stirrups needed adjusting again so that the knees are bent at a good angle, and then its heels down toes up! I was shown the correct sitting posture – shoulder, hips and heels should be in-line – and was then shown the correct way to hold the reins – thumbs up, fingers clutching and little finger underneath – this is how you should always hold them and your arms should always be straight so sometimes you have to adjust the length of rein you’re holding – otherwise it’s too flax and the horse won’t know when your pulling.

Then it was time to go for a walk! Back straight, looking ahead always and both heels squeeze the horse, sometimes a little kick or a ‘walk on’ is needed and off we trot! 😀 Now at first it seems a little wierd, then you get more used to it, then towards the end of the lesson it really begins to stretch your muscles! Jola was excellent, she sometimes needed a bit of coaxing to start walking, and sometimes stopped in the middle of a trot (cheeky thing) but generally she did what she was told! After a few circles of the arena, I then learnt how to stop which was a gentle but firm pull back on the reins – arms still straight.

Indoor school at the College of West Anglia in Milton

Indoor school at the College of West Anglia in Milton

I then learnt how to steer Jola. A gentle but firm pull with my left arm away from her to turn left, and the same for the right but with the right arm. Occassionally I needed to squeeze a little harder or kick a couple of times to get her moving, and needed to adjust the reins alot as my hands kept slipping – the correct way to do this is to slide one hand down and then the other, always thumbs up and little finger under.

So we did this for a while, walking, changing directions, halting, changing speed from a slow walk to a more energetic walk/trot (you do this by kicking/squeezing a little harder whilst she’s walking). Becky said that I was picking everything up very well and that I was a natural and held a good connection with Jola! (always good to hear!) Jola was occassionaly quite cheeky and fancied just stopping halfway through a circuit or to basque in the sun – a lot like me then!! But generally she was lovely and calm!

Then it was time to dismount…! ahem…Even though it was a very long way down I managed it quite dignified however it did take me a few seconds of feet-out-of-sirrups-leg-swinging and body swaying, before I plucked up the courage to swing myself over! Again you have to relax the reins and put one hand firmly on the saddle to swing your body over. Becky was there to ease my journey down and I did land on both feet!

…and that my friends, was my first lesson! It went rather well and cor blimey do your legs hurt/turn to jelly after!!! I was told that next week after learning to trot and canter, they would hurt even more and I’d soon have legs and arms of steel…well, its a bonus if I get a work out from it! Next lesson I hope to get some pictures of me actually riding so watch this space! Until then, watch out for my next blog which will be Trampolining on Friday evening!

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