petite anglaise

January 25, 2007


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 7:49 pm

Once upon a time I had a schoolfriend who was incapable of eating bananas in public without first breaking them into small pieces with her fingers. I remembered that rather random fact today when describing my antics in the Club Med Gym (which I still call the Gymnase Club, because I’m old school, me, and set in my ways) to a friend over lunch.

“So, how often do you actually go?” she asked, picking at the huge slice of apple crumble she’d ordered. I nursed my espresso, feeling virtuous for turning down dessert, but also rather jealous.

“Oh, three times a week at the moment while I ease into the routine,” I replied. “Then I’ll see if I can bear to go more often, maybe take some classes.”

Bear to go more often?”

“Well yes, it’s not exactly a pleasure. More a necessity. I’ve always been rather anti-sport, as you know…”

Anti-sport may be something of an understatement. I haven’t changed much since I vowed never to enter the sports hall at sixth form college. Or university. The rubbery odour of a sports shop is enough to make me wrinkle my nose in distaste, so crossing the threshold of the Club Med changing rooms requires a supreme effort of will. The only thing which makes the whole entreprise remotely bearable is my latest purchase: a tiny, clippy iPod shuffle, which makes it possible for me to block out my surroundings and lose myself in electronica while I cross country ski or climb seventy flights of stairs.

“The worst thing,” I confided, “is cleaning off the machines after you’ve used them.” Unable to restrain myself any longer, I seized my coffee spoon and stole a mouthful of crumble with crème anglaise.

My friend looked rather puzzled. “But surely it’s your sweat you are wiping?”

“Yes, but that’s not the problem” I said, setting down my spoon so I could mime the cleaning action with my right hand.

Imagine, if you will, a petite anglaise who has just finished her fifteen minutes on the stepper machine. Not just any stepper machine mind, but the one directly located under an air conditioning vent, my machine of choice. For some reason, French girls who go to the gym never break a sweat and rarely turn an attractive shade of beetroot, like I am wont to do. In order to blend in better, and draw fewer horrified stares, I always try to work out in the coolest part of the room.

By my side a lithe young man in tight shorts is hard at it. Something about his zeal for butt tightening and his choice of attire makes me think that it may not be for the benefit of a lady. Unless of course he is one those meetic boys who likes to claim that his most attractive attributes are “ses fesses”. He watches as I dismount and stagger over to the paper towel dispenser a few metres away, squirt some white, slightly opaque soap onto the tissue, and proceed to clean the first handle, gripping its girth firmly within my open palm and sliding the lubricated tissue up and down.

It suddenly occurs to me how this looks, and when I move on to the second handle I find it impossible not to smirk as I rub. The fact that my iPod has just opted for an explicit little track by “Peaches” has tipped me over the edge.

Disposing of my spent paper towel, I return to grab my tap water-filled Evian bottle and my decidedly unluxurious Club Med towel, turning to face my audience as I do so.

“It’s all in the wrist action,” I say, with a smile, before turning on my heel and heading off in the direction of the showers.


  1. I was just about to recommend you to buy the lovely, foldable Easy Shaper and do it at home (I love it) but then it occurred to me there will be no relevant spectators at home watching you do the handle thing, so: not a good idea :-D

    Comment by alcessa — January 25, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  2. Wow, I admire your dedication! I’ve tried the gym a few times, but I just can’t make it stick, not even with music to see me through! Instead I’ve settled for just being fat and lazy from now on, much less painful all round!

    Comment by Ignorminious — January 25, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  3. heh: you are a VERY clever girl, aren’t you.
    – a boy.

    Comment by eric — January 25, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  4. Ah, the penny drops. Now that first sentence makes sense. Nice tie-in.

    Comment by Babs — January 25, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  5. Petite! You’re such a little freshie!! :0)

    Comment by Mlle Smith — January 25, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

  6. I’m sure the little man on the stepper appreciated your graphic instructions…

    Comment by girlanddog — January 25, 2007 @ 10:52 pm

  7. I’ve started going three times a week now too, I usually go with hubby because we like doing things together. It’s hard getting there sometimes but we really enjoy it once we get going, there’s a good bunch of people there, young and old and we always feel very good and self righteous afterwards. Nobody bothers to clean the equipment when they’ve finished though….perhaps it’s not such an upmarket establishment as yours, petite!

    Comment by Sue — January 25, 2007 @ 11:51 pm

  8. You’re just not getting enough…….stimulation?

    Comment by andrew — January 25, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

  9. 15 mins on the stepper. Thats about 1200 steps right?

    Very impressed.

    I’m doing some hard training for this…………

    Comment by Jeremy Jacobs — January 26, 2007 @ 12:00 am

  10. Just keeping your hand in…

    Comment by Z — January 26, 2007 @ 12:25 am

  11. Wow. Everybody’s blogging about blow-jobs, even the lovely P. Anglais.

    Comment by Annie Rhiannon — January 26, 2007 @ 12:26 am

  12. yes, why IS it that french girls don’t go that colour? i very much wish i didn’t, but i do. never mind – your cleansing technique will certainly draw attention away from your face.

    Comment by mad muthas — January 26, 2007 @ 12:31 am

  13. Oh, you are naughty, Petite…….but I love it!

    Comment by AussieGil — January 26, 2007 @ 12:46 am

  14. Fab post! ;)
    p.s. I’ve been loving your blog for about two years without missing a beat and this is the post which made me comment for the first time – don’t want to think what that says about me!

    Comment by le sagittaire — January 26, 2007 @ 1:30 am

  15. how in the world do you say “it’s all in the wrist action” in french??

    Comment by Mariko — January 26, 2007 @ 2:47 am

  16. Good to know you are a fellow Peaches fan! And perfect music for the gym also. When I can be arsed going to the gym I listen to riot grrrl bands to get me inspired. Or Brigitte Bardot ;)

    Comment by Rochelle — January 26, 2007 @ 3:32 am

  17. *giggles at the banana/handle link*

    Sadly, some jock has moved into my brain, as not only do I go to the gym 5 and sometimes 6 times a week, I actually enjoy it. (Horrors!) Surely the end of the world as we know it is near.

    But I dearly love my tiny clippy iPod Shuffle as well. I put on “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles and the elliptical feels more like a dance floor.

    Okay, clearly my entire brain has been hijacked…

    Comment by Dawn — January 26, 2007 @ 4:43 am

  18. Love it!
    I can only imagine the guy’s face as he’s watching you do so!

    Comment by Tanya — January 26, 2007 @ 4:53 am

  19. Didn’t catch that till the end, then I snorted coffee out of my nose. Great one!

    Comment by Hope4Grace — January 26, 2007 @ 5:28 am

  20. Haha! Excellent.

    Comment by Fuff — January 26, 2007 @ 6:28 am

  21. I also turn that attractive shade of beetroot. I have no idea how the French girls manage to avoid it! What’s their secret?!

    Comment by Sparkle — January 26, 2007 @ 9:02 am

  22. “sigh” – Can you shake a bottle of tomato ketchup in the same manner? I now have these lucid thoughts in my mind which may prevent me from writing a very important document today!!! Happy handling!

    Comment by JNH — January 26, 2007 @ 9:45 am

  23. I used to put in the miles at a gym when I lived in the States. I can’t afford them anymore and so try to jog or speed walk outside for excercise where it is free but when it is freezing, literally, out there, that’s not going to happen. I will keep myself planted in front of my computer burning a few calories here and there as I type.

    Comment by Linda — January 26, 2007 @ 10:01 am

  24. Niiiice. But why do they make you use soap on the machines? What a mess (and no, I’m not being dirty!). Why not just use some sort of spray cleaner?

    Comment by BlondebutBright — January 26, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  25. “C’est tout dans le poignet”- or what was it you said in French?

    Comment by little_bounce — January 26, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  26. Was that me who used to break bananas into pieces?!!!

    Comment by old school friend — January 26, 2007 @ 10:50 am

  27. I must be the exception that proves the rule: the only French girl who flushes at the mere mention of exercice and turns positively scarlet after 10 minutes on the treadmill! How embarassing…

    I can also relate to the banana story – always in small, manageable, non suggestive pieces!

    Comment by Pepette — January 26, 2007 @ 11:50 am

  28. How courageous you are to do your sweating in public! I too have just bought myself a mini iPod shuffle and am contemplating getting myself an exercise bike, and sweat in the privacy of my living room. I bet my girls would enjoy it too!

    Comment by Amanda — January 26, 2007 @ 11:54 am

  29. Atta girl!

    Comment by Le Meg — January 26, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  30. I fear you’re showing your age as well as providing definitive proof of that mis-spent youth, Petite.

    And I’m not at all sure you’re old enough for that kind of game, actually – because here is the derivation of your classic line – from the very ancient TV adverts for Battling Tops.

    And since I can’t quickly find the original advert, for now this clip will simply have to do.

    Comment by Roads — January 26, 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  31. I’m a tad concerned that Anne Rhiannon thinks that that’s a blow-job ….

    Comment by pog — January 26, 2007 @ 1:16 pm

  32. As a fellow nonsportsperson I can symapthise with your mixed feelings about the gym. I held one record in P.E. at school: the only person in our class NOT to go head over heels over a bar despite the teacher’s bullying, cajoling and shoving!
    Pity they didn’y include wrist action lessons. Now that might have been interesting . . .

    Comment by sablonneuse — January 26, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  33. Mariko and Little Bounce: “Tout est dans le poignet!”.

    Funny post Petite.

    Take care.

    Comment by Anonymous for now — January 26, 2007 @ 1:39 pm

  34. Ah, the iPod … a god-send to all aerobic machine users the world over, I’m sure. If I don’t have mine with me in the gym, then it just doesn’t seem worthwhile. There is, however, that moment of realisation that the entire gym is staring at you as you pound away on the machine whilst (hopefully) silently mouthing the words to whatever is blasting your ears at the time.

    Also, it’s acceptable to eat a banana without breaking it into pieces first … as long as you don’t touch the end of it with your tongue first. That was the downfall of the classic British Flake advert. The tongue movement tipped it from seductive to erotic! Haha.

    Comment by CogitoErgoSum — January 26, 2007 @ 2:23 pm

  35. Sorry but someone mentioned ketchup and what with the general theme of this post I couldn’t help remembering this video that did the rounds recently: – starts off looking rather dodgy but is actually very funny.

    Comment by SXC — January 26, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  36. Ha haaaa! That’s funny! I too am gyming it this year, clippy new iPod shuffle in tow. (With a very cute little pink suitcase I bought for it in HMV.) However, ever since starting the gym, my libido has sky-rocketed and I can’t stop thinking naughty things! I fancy almost everybody who could be slightly attractive, including my trainer. Short, but perfectly formed, I can’t help but feel twinges every time he comes near me, especially when I’m on those crazy thigh machine things. (Ahem.) I too am the only Brit in the place; recognizable immediately by my sweating, shocking pink face as I pray for mercy and run another mile, thinking about the short brown woolly dress I bought in Gap that will look so much better in a few weeks. If only I can hold in there…(though knowing I’m going to see Fine Trainer Boy makes it so much easier to motivate myself!) Keep it up Petite!

    Comment by redlady — January 26, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

  37. EXACTLY why I am NOT joining a gym with my coworkers… well the number one reason is I don’t want to have to undress and shower with the people in my 3:00 PM meeting… I will stroke the handles of my stationary bike by myself thank you.

    Comment by magillicuddy — January 26, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

  38. Very funny post Petite – I nearly inhaled my cup of coffee reading it.

    I have found that an extremely gorgeous personal trainer makes me a very dedicated exerciser but it’s fair to say that before that I fell into the ‘grin and bear it’ camp too ;-)

    Comment by Elisabeth — January 26, 2007 @ 6:43 pm

  39. Okay, strange coincidence. As I was wiping the handle of the elliptical down today, the man on the next machine grinned at me and said, “Do a good job now!” I nearly burst into hysterical laughter as I realized I was doing the very same thing you’d posted about. Wasn’t clever enough to respond as you did, though.

    Comment by Dawn — January 26, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

  40. “Faut avoir l’coup d’poignet”

    french girls own a slightly yellower skintone than the English roses,moreover they paint their faces over with foundation cream before setting off to the gym

    Comment by luna — January 26, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

  41. @Mariko, Little Bounce, Anonymous : “Tout est dans le coup de poignet” would be a better choice.

    Comment by Yogi — January 27, 2007 @ 12:03 am

  42. Uh oh… not half as embarrassing as being on one of those machines that require you to stick your legs into stirrup-like contraptions against which you push in a cycling motion (yeah, you can tell I’m really sporty, can’t you?!) and having some perv ogling your crotch with interest for 20 minutes! Or indeed having one instructor always ‘re-arrange the furniture’ each time you ask him a question. Gyms are hormone-fuelled places, clearly. I must admit to having felt quite randy while breaking out a sweat, on occasions.

    Comment by Ariel — January 27, 2007 @ 12:27 am

  43. @ Andrew (8)

    Of course, she is missing ‘stimulation’, since P.A. lost her beloved ‘toy’ quite a while ago.


    Comment by adventurer — January 27, 2007 @ 12:52 am

  44. @adventurer

    you have a good memory, I salute you, but ever stop to think that I might have had more than just one?

    Comment by petite — January 27, 2007 @ 1:11 am

  45. Uh, pog; I was referring to the friend-with-banana thing, not the machine-wipey-downy-thing.

    But yeah, I am worried too.

    Comment by Annie Rhiannon — January 27, 2007 @ 4:24 am

  46. Loved it!

    Comment by Lost in France — January 27, 2007 @ 1:32 pm

  47. Petite, it’s not just French women who don’t sweat — it’s everyone who thinks that just BEING in the gym is enough to burn off the calories; no effort required. And, as a previous poster says, we English roses do tend to pink up rather more than most. I tend to sweat buckets too, and I’m no novice in the gym. But there’s nothing quite like getting hot, sticky, and breathless three times a week, is there??

    Comment by Elle — January 27, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  48. I hated PE at school. I was the kid who got picked last for all the teams, used to skive of PE lessons, etc, etc.

    But when I got older and joined a gym I discovered that it was something about the competitiveness of sport I didn’t like, not exercise itself. I’m a big gym fan now – I usually go about 5 times a week.

    I do a lot of classes, you should definitely try them. Spinning’s good.

    Comment by Julia Buckley — January 27, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  49. wow, petite, that was great. it almost makes me want to go to the gym so i could tell some attractive man that!

    Comment by franko — January 27, 2007 @ 5:20 pm

  50. Nice gym story! I often see girls with full make up, not a hair out of place etc. You know they’re not there to work out, just to suss out the male eye candy! :)

    Comment by weenie — January 27, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

  51. ~44 – just call her the Duracell Gym Bunny

    Comment by andrew — January 28, 2007 @ 12:53 am

  52. Well, if that admirable display of “wrist action” didn’t get you a date, then your audience must definitely bat for the other team.

    And I’m with you — I hate working out at a gym. I’ve never been athletic or coordinated, and being at a gym with all those buff, sporty types give me hives. And I sweat in a most un-feminine way, too.

    Comment by The Bold Soul — January 28, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

  53. Funnily enough I recall you recently writing about wanting conpanionship and not wanting to be single anymore, so its good to see that you’re keeping up this (apprently) vital skill set!

    Comment by Ceylon Sapphire — January 28, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  54. hello from malaysia…

    first timer here… and my…ur stories are interesting!

    paris! i’ve always wanted to go there… sigh due to financial matters… :(

    Comment by kyh — January 28, 2007 @ 9:13 pm


    Comment by Jo the waiter — January 28, 2007 @ 9:27 pm

  56. I just realized this weekend that you buy the whole kit & kaboodle in Décathlon for less than the price of a subscription to the gym. But then, the thought of all that kit getting dusty in the attic and having to post the unused stuff to a ebayer dissuaded me. Exercise bike it is!

    Comment by Amanda — January 28, 2007 @ 10:40 pm

  57. Doing it the Decathlon way myself. Too ashamed to go back to the gym even bigger than the last time. And it’s true less than ten months membership gets me the machine I use there. Why have I been leaving myself open to the humiliation all this time!

    new to petite anglaise and already adicted. Nice to know there are other Englanders out there trying to get to grip with life here and that I’m not alone! keep it up, thanks.

    Comment by Alex — January 29, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  58. I always look like a beetroot after using those machines too!


    Comment by Sally Lomax — January 29, 2007 @ 7:44 pm

  59. lol exercise can be very erotic, m’dear.

    Comment by Beau Radley — January 30, 2007 @ 5:58 pm

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