Monday, 11 June 2018

A spritz up the backside (not literally!): perfume as personal trainer, and my hairy brush with the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

Same hall, different class! ~ Source: SLogan Fitness
I have read a few blog posts on the theme of 'perfume for the gym/workout', which usually take a matter-of-fact line, as though we were merely talking about choosing a scent for an evening out or for the office, ie a perfectly normal activity. So although this post treats the same topic, I am coming at it from a different standpoint. Because the fact is, I hate exercise. There, I said it. Shoot and defriend me now if you must!

Hmm, not so fast...I should perhaps qualify that statement slightly. I dread the thought of doing exercise, I don't enjoy doing it at the time - unless we are talking a country walk, say, but I invariably can't be a**ed to drive to the country - but I just LOVE the feeling afterwards, whether it is the floaty one you get from yoga or a generalised rush of euphoria from jogging. For the most part though, the enjoyment of the aftermath doesn't weigh heavily enough in the equation to overrule the kiboshing effects of the before and during feelings on my healthy intentions. Which is not to say that exercise doesn't get done by me in fits and starts here and there - I am a great believer in 'incidental exercise' as well as what the lovely Doctor in the House calls 'movement snacking'. How great is that expression!?! Now I am well aware that this is not enough on its own and that we all need (increasingly so as you age) a judicious combination of exercise of each of the four types: Cardio, Strength, Flexibility and Balance. These are all so important I have gone and given them capitals.

Source: Aroma M Perfumes

I do attend a yoga class on a Saturday morning, though I must confess I missed the last five weeks(!), due to a compellingly plausible excuse combination of weekends away and bad ears. Astonishingly I made it back this Saturday and it wasn't nearly as impossible as I feared. And on a whim, I sprayed Aroma M's Geisha Vanilla Hinoki before heading out, though I don't normally wear perfume when exercising. It turns out that I reviewed this scent almost two years ago to the day, and when I put it on before yoga its calming, faintly fougere vibe of vanilla and lavender, coupled with the sprightly opening burst of bergamot and the grounding incense and patchouli accord had rather surprising effects. For I felt much more motivated about being in the class while I was there, and a little less reluctant to go in the first place! There is a term 'resistance training' which is the same as our 'Strength' category and includes weight lifting and the like. Me, I need training to stop me resisting resistance training!...or frankly any kind of training indeed. ;)

But yes, in my discreet cloud of Vanilla Hinoki, the difference in my mood was really quite marked. I have no idea whether it would work equally well with any perfume I liked, but I sense Vanilla Hinoki teams up particularly well with the zen-like state yoga induces. Of course all exercise is ultimately relaxing for the body - and mind - but this one really hit the spot, no question, and was elevated to the level of aromatherapy in a sporting context.

In a strange postscript to the above, this unexpected bout of exercise was followed the very next day by more physical jerks(!), most unusually for a Sunday. A knitting chum called Felicity had kindly invited me and another friend as her guests on a spa day at Hoar Cross Hall, of which she was a full-time member. Obviously I jumped at the chance to spend some quality time with the pair of them, while swanning around grand surroundings in a fluffy robe. 'Swan' being the operative word on account of the garment's whiteness. 

Ghostly robed figure disappearing down The Long Gallery

Unfortunately, the day that suited us all for this three-way meet up happened to coincide with the Ironman 70.3 Triathlon - one of several such extreme endurance events being held across the world yesterday. Many of the main - and even minor - roads in the county were to be closed till early afternoon, and planning an alternative route was strongly advised.

Source: Express & Star

The other friend who was joining us never made it sadly, having spent many hours going precisely nowhere, before finally being turned back by a policeman somewhere near Rugeley. She had only gone twelve miles from home in all that time. Her hugely frustrating experience showed that you really needed to use an OS and Ironman road closure map in tandem to have any hope of figuring out a route - there were so many conflicting diversion signs on the ground that you would be sure to be trapped in endless Kafkaesque loops, as she was. The council really hadn't thought through the impact of their diversion signs, which were so numerous, and which referred to so many different (unspecified) routes, as to be of absolutely no use whatsoever. 

I had called the race hotline and enlisted their help to plot a route, yet I still managed to have a highly hairy drive even so. The road the organisers recommended was also closed(!), though it was in fact passable at a crossing point - which I knew in principle, but suddenly doubted. After a fruitless twenty minutes being catapulted between diversion signs in Uttoxeter like a ball in a bagatelle, I decided to override the closed sign and see what gave(!). Sure enough, after a couple of miles the crossing place and two marshals with bollards hove into view - they doubtless wanted to discourage casual passing traffic. I suppose that otherwise they could have spent the entire race shifting bollards like demented lollipop men. At the same time it was a bit naughty, as I genuinely thought for a moment that I couldn't go the way they said after all, and might so easily have given up myself at that point.


Getting across the cyclists' path was just the start of it though! I also nearly killed a dog that chased, and then ran out in front of the car; several 4 x 4s ran me into a ditch, and I narrowly escaped being rammed by a tractor as tall as a house as it careered round a bend, driven by a child. These were hands down the narrowest roads I have ever driven up/down, and I was in constant fear of meeting someone. With good reason as it turned out.

And so between the white knuckle drive, the yoga class I attended at the spa when I finally got there (two classes in as many days, hehe), and the 60 lengths of the admittedly half length pool...why, I virtually did a triathlon myself! Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration...

This wasn't the pool I swam in.

And I am very much hoping that Vanilla Hinoki has given me the metaphorical 'spritz up the backside' I need to get me exercising more regularly. Time will tell, but it has certainly given me a leg up for now.

Ooh, speaking of legs up, I am sure that girl was in my yoga class. I don't think I am good enough at holding the poses, mind, to ever end up covered in lichen.


  1. I really admire you for doing exercise at the spa, V. I go for the beauty treatments only as having to workout in any way would not be a fun time for me. I really wish I was one of those people - we know one very well - that love exercising. Like you I enjoy the feeling afterwards but going is a chore.
    I do think that Vanilla Hinoki is an ideal workout perfume considering it's inspired by those Japanese outdoor steamy baths!

    1. Hi Tara,

      Haha, I must admit I questioned whether I had chosen the most relaxing way to spend the day, but I did feel virtuous. And saved a shedload on the treatments, as the pool and classes are obviously free. If I had gone for one, I think it would have to have been a massage after the stress of the journey there!

      LOL re the person we know very well who loves exercise. I barely had to scratch my head at all to think who you meant. ;)

      I hadn't thought of Vanilla Hinoki in connection with the steamy baths, as my original selection of it was for yoga at the church hall, but you are absolutely right!

  2. I hate exercising. Same as Tara, I wish I were one of those exercise enthusiasts who are addicted to running, swimming or doing yoga. But I don’t, and as my back issues are getting worse, I manage to force myself into the exercising less and less. So I admire your weekend efforts (not even counting the driving part, which I might be even less inclined to do than exercising ;) ).
    I had high hopes for this perfume - based on your review and my love to lavender. But no, I keep “shooting blanks” with indie perfumes. I think I should stop even testing them. Though, I’m curious to figure out what exactly puts me off most of them, regardless of the perfumer who made them. But I’m glad you found an additional “motivator” for the healthy lifestyle :)

    1. Hi Undina,

      I am glad to know another reluctant exerciser, though not so glad to hear your back issues are getting worse. Ironically, the likes of pilates would be brilliant for your back - I know how much time you must be deskbound in your high pressure job.

      I loved your expression 'shooting blanks' in this context. To me, Vanilla Hinoki, and Aroma M's range in general - and that of House of Cherry Bomb - doesn't smell indie as such. There are a whole bunch of other smaller brands which strike me as so distinctive as to border on odd - or to be outright odd(!) - and I don't get on nearly so well with those.