in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Monday, August 18, 2008

Squeeze and Release

I recently started attending BodyPump class, after being made curious by my lady’s repeated entreaties. ‘Pump?’ I wondered. ‘It involves weights… how bad could it be?’ It turns out that BodyPump (Pump) was expressly designed to get boys afraid of emasculating choreography into the aerobics room. But still, for many a young man intent on making claims on ‘Australian masculinity’, going into any aerobics room still places your lad in peril. Thus I initially twinkled into Pump with tip-toe trepidation – fifty minutes later, I was converted, nay, re-assigned. A doubt-filled novice had been changed into an enthused initiate, and a week later, I had already begun proselytising, trying to get my out-of-shape male friends into the operating room. It wasn’t necessarily Pump that I liked. What I liked, and – judging from the noises they make – what the instructors like, is the squeeze… and the release.

Pump is a great way to give you fantastic contractions. Life, as we know, begins with the painful contractions that herald birth, and continues spasm by spasm until the final relaxation. In fact, from a certain point of view, all life (and definitely all [re]production) is a matter of contraction, regardless of whether you’re talking about being an organism or having an orgasm. As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in Pumping Iron:

‘The greatest feeling you can get in a gym… is the pump. Your muscles get a really tight feeling, like your skin is going to explode any minute. It’s really tight, it’s like somebody blowing air into it, it just blows up and it feels different. It’s as satisfying to me as coming is, as having sex with a woman and coming. Can you believe how much I am in heaven? I am getting the feeling of coming in the gym, and the feeling of coming at home, the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up – I am coming day and night. It’s terrific. I am in heaven.’

But you can have too much of a good constriction. Pump too much, too hard, too long, and you’ll be Arnie with Aneurysm. Squeezing is only the half of it. There’s also release. You could say that Arnie’s approach is unbalanced – hence the absence of neck. Or, as an enthusiastic onanist once said: ‘Don’t choke it… stroke it.’ As with Onan, (and unlike Conan), with Pump you slowly build the pressure up until it becomes unbearable. Almost unbearable… then you release it. It’s this magical combination of squeeze AND release that’s the pleasurably painful secret of Pump’s success.

It’s not rocket science, just the imitation of all of life’s essential processes, each of which is involved in this rhythmic squeeze and release. This is not restricted (or constricted) to ‘the pump’, BodyPump, or even the aerobics room. You can get it striving, you can get it driving, in fact, it doesn’t matter whether it’s chewing, gurning, breathing, skipping, cycling, swimming, dancing, hugging, pissing, wanking, drumming, scratching, poking, sucking, blowing, farting, or whistling. Life is constantly caught in the painful, pleasurable ebb and flow of squeeze and release, contraction, expansion, tightening, relaxing, holding in and letting out. Until the final relaxation, life is both expenditure and reserve, squeeze and release. And it feels good.

The Author

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.