Just back from my annual get together with a group of friends who met 35 years ago.

So last year on said annual get together I gave them a mission which they chose to accept. 

For one afternoon on our next get together in Chester we would take to the River Mersey and ROW!

Much excitement was generated – lots of laughs and giggles and promises of getting fit in readiness ensued. 

I had two tasks 

  • Arrange the day at Warrington Rowing Club for May Bank Holiday 2019
  • Send a monthly training plan

I kept 50% of my deal and everyone else showed great enthusiasm throughout the year regarding the impending rowing session sending photos to our Whats App group of themselves on holiday in kayaks or watching rowers on nearby rivers and some hilarious comments and gifs about gym work. I wasn’t completely convinced they were taking it seriously. How wrong could i be?

As the weekend grew closer the Whats App messages began and fears and worries were relayed to each other about how unfit they were, how many injuries there were carrying and how little experience they had. I assured them they would be fine and there would be no excuses and if they “forgot” their kit they’d be in their vest and pants!!!!

So from 2pm onwards  we begin arriving at our weekend residence and there are screams and shouts and laughter and some tears as we retell stories from the past year – holidays, children, jobs, our parents, disasters but of course the conversation keeps returning to rowing. There’s an air of excitement and trepidation. 

Stories of how they intended to get fit and some seriously well thought out excuses for having not got fit! 

“It doesn’t matter” I said it’s not about fitness it’s about technique so no excuses!

At this point I have to mention that two of my friends have taken the whole thing very seriously and changed their attitude to fitness and general lifestyle and have become gym bunnies!!!!!!

So Pam who really does ‘live the good life” has swapped her gentle swimming sessions for gym work and a bit of running. She’s changed her diet and has a new outlook on life. Always seemed happy with her lot and now even happier and looking fantastic – she’s just oozing health and confidence!

And Suzie – well if anyone last year had said that Suzie would become a runner, after lots of raucous laughing and many rude expletives we would have swept that comment under the carpet never to be mentioned again!

Well fast forward one year and Suzie is a changed person – so up for the rowing challenge and showing her competitive streak, she has completely changed her lifestyle and outlook, shed a gazillion pounds and runs 2-3 times a week. She looks healthier and her positive mental attitude is tremendous. 

And so to the challenge. Well its safe to say we created loads of fantastic memories! 

With the help of Always Oarsome’s Jen Hinds and WRCs Jon Budd the afternoon was a huge success. 

The group spilled out of the cars in the WRC car park, laughing and joking. I have to admit I felt a bit weird as my two worlds were about to collide. Friends from 35 years ago and rowing buddies – eek!!

We did the serious bit first – the safety briefing and then Jen asked the fatal question 

‘Does anyone have any injuries?’

I soon shushed them as we had spent most of last night talking of ailments and injuries and medications required. The last half an hour at the house had been in a desperate attempt to divvy out the paracetamol and anti inflammatories! Rest assured they were all in good working order and fit enough to carry the tasks!

Strangely, once we entered the gym there was deathly quiet – not even a murmur from Suzie!!!

Technique mastered we had a magic wee and headed for the water. All safely adjusted and off we went. Of course we started with rigger dips to lull them into a false sense of security and then on to the tricky bit – ROWING!

In the knowledge that Jen and Jon are great coaches and coxes I provided coaching and advise from the launch.The girls were brilliant – picking up the technique so quickly and with such good humour – true camaraderie and superb team work. 

After an hour and a half on the water we let them come in and stretch their tight muscles and weary limbs – they weren’t quiet now though – they were buzzing and so were we. Tea and cakes was a very noisy affair!

Not only was I proud of how they had handled the whole situation – having put themselves completely out of their comfort zones – but how they had worked together and encouraged each other and showed just what a great team they are.

So next year is already booked. We will stay in a house on the outskirts of York. I did mention that i had contacts at York Rowing Club, however we are undecided between circus skills, quad biking, cycling, tandem cycling, axe throwing and shooting!!!!


Watch this space!!!