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Fit for summer?

June 14, 2010 – 11:25 am

Hey, summer’s here. Time to hit the beach - after all, isn’t that one of the reasons you live in, or are coming on holiday to, Andalucia?

Are you panicking about your bikini body? Worried about all that cellulite? Launching on a last-minute attempt to look like Elle McPherson by going to the gym every day, after a six-month hiatus since the soon-broken New Year’s resolution? We all (unless you’ve got a perfect size 10 physique with no lumps, bumps or saggy bits, in which case, go away and eat some chocolate, please) worry about how we’ll look on the beach, come summer. Waxing, scrubbing, pummelling that wintery-white flesh so that we won’t have to hide under a sarong, or even a full-length purdah-style kaftan.

Spanish women especially love their laser hair-removal, their cutting-edge high-tech fitness studios where you just stand while a machine vibrates and breaks down all your fat for you, so you don’t have to make any effort. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the businesses I know personally which hasn’t suffered in the crisis, is a beauty salon.

Although many, many more people cycle around cities than used to just a few short years ago, I wasn’t that surprised to read a recent report by the Eurobarometer (which surveys the 27 EU countries) stating that 42% of Spanish never take any exercise. (The Scandinavians are the fittest, with the Mediterraneans the laziest.)

The overall percentage of Europeans who never exercise is 39%, so Spain is above that figure. For those who live alone (noone to see – and poke – their flab, I suppose) the figure goes up to 47%. Needless to say, those who are economically challenged are even less likely to hit the running track/gym/pool – over half, 56%, don’t do any regular physical activity. And, possibly surprisingly, of those who don’t want to break into a sweat, nearly 60% are women.

So how do the fairer sex bare their bikini bods without doing some cardio? They crash diet. At this time of year, all those parafarmacias full of weird-looking dietary products, huge pots of whey power shakes etc, have a boom time as women suddenly realise that public near-nudity is imminent and unavoidable, and last year’s swimming costume will cut off their circulation if they don’t shed a few kilos.

Of couse, if you have a few thousand euros knocking about, and want to do a Demi Moore, then plastic surgery is always an option. Between February and July is peak season for cirugia estetica. Suck it out, lift it up, fold it over, and stitch it up. The most popular operations – pop-ops – are breast enlargement and liposuction. Boobs, tummies and thighs. You’ve left it a bit late if you haven’t been under the knife yet, as you have to keep that scar out of the sun. Non-invasive laser-lipo, called “ultrasonic cavitation”, which breaks down your fat cells, is the latest thing, apparently. At 130 euros per half-hour session (minimum ten sessions), you’ll end up looking more like Ms McPherson, but without the cash for your beach holiday. Oops! Back to square one.

For my part, I prefer a below-the-knee kaftan, partly so I don’t blind other beachgoers with the sparkly whiteness of my body, and partly so I’m decently clothed for all the supremely inelegant postures one has to adopt – kneeling, bending over, squatting – when playing with, chasing, grabbing and generally trying to keep control of, boisterous children.

As for exercise, walking from car to supermarket/school/nursery/work and back again is about all I manage. My son (aged 3.5) is very keen on tennis, and as he can’t actually get his little racket to make contact with the ball yet, running around after tennis balls will have to do for me.

So happy slimming/running/laser-fat-zapping (or none of that, if you’re like me), and don’t forget the factor 40.

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