Fit in my 40s: twistin’ my melon with Bez | Zoe Williams

The king of the 90s delivering a workout? I’ll raise a maraca to that

I embarked on Get Buzzin’ with Bez – available on YouTube to all decent men and women who know how to fast-forward through a Disney+ advert – expecting Happy Mondays music and a bit of arm-flailing. I wasn’t really expecting the eponymous Bez, king of the 90s, crown prince of dancing to music people didn’t previously dance to, to deliver a workout. Definitely wasn’t expecting him to have a personal trainer.

I could have anticipated his hot opening (“All I did in the first lockdown was eat cake and drink myself to oblivion”) and the fact that a light jog around a snowy, featureless park was the farthest he’d run for 20 years. The real shocker was how much he now looks like Keir Starmer. Imagine if the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition had taken a shedload of ecstasy … no, wait, you don’t have to imagine that. They look exactly the same. They’re more or less the same age. Hard living, it turns out, is fine; Shaun Ryder is an outlier. I called Mr Z upstairs so urgently he thought I’d put my back out. “Who. Does. He. Look. Like?” I was on tenterhooks. If he hadn’t got it, I would have been angry with him all evening. “Keir Starmer,” he said with a why-would-you-ask abruptness, as if I’d just asked him to tell me what spice this was and it was cinnamon.

There isn’t any dancing at all, ladies and gentlemen! This is your classic workout, only tailored to someone who hasn’t run round a park since the 20th century. Instead of a push-up, a shoulder tap, which is like a push-up except you tap your shoulder with the opposite hand rather than pushing. Instead of squats and lunges, just squats. Instead of a regular stomach crunch, one with a personal trainer holding your feet. Instead of moving on to the more gruelling section of regular circuits (bear crawls and star jumps) more of those first things.

This was week one, and it gets more challenging as it goes along, but it established some interesting principles. However fit you think you are – I don’t think I’m an athlete, but I’m younger than Bez, with, I’d hope, less mileage – you can still feel the burn from almost anything if you give it your full attention.

Any mobilising is better than no mobilising (very like politics). There’s a lot of banter. Indeed, that’s half the offer: he won’t go too fast and there will be good-natured, self-deprecating chat in between. It’s not often that funny of itself, but it creates an incredibly soothing, why-not atmosphere. Why not do some squats instead of sitting still? What’s to lose from 30 seconds of high intensity, even if 10 seconds is nothing like the recovery time you would prefer? It’s an altogether different kind of inspiration, a handbrake turn away from the “be your best self” Joe Wicks generation, back to a more 90s “have your best time, where possible, under these not necessarily auspicious circumstances”. So in that sense, I loved it. It was like coming home.

What I learned
I always thought of 56 as a triathlete’s peak age, but to a personal trainer – Bez’s is Andrew Naylor, from Lancashire – it is impossibly ancient.

Go for the burn: three retro online workouts to try

Jane Fonda (1982)
A lot has changed in the aerobics world since the 1980s. Fonda is explicit in a way that no modern celebrity would be about her intention – which is not to have any fat, anywhere. Least of all on your waist, your arms, your legs, your butt or any other part where fat might congregate. The best thing about this is that many of the moves will be unfamiliar (a little bit toning, a little bit disco); there is also a known fitness benefit from doing anything at which you’re not adept.

Mr Motivator

I had a sensory overload from trying to exercise and laugh at the same time. It wasn’t exactly mirth, more a kind of bubbling over of affection. You’ll have forgotten how much there is to like about Mr M, from his tropical mankinis to his classical medley soundtrack, and the deadly aerobic-seriousness behind his smiling demeanour.

Marky Mark

Before Marky Mark, as Wahlberg was then known, starts his how-to-beefcake routines – a lot of weights, not really suitable unless you own weights – there’s a little skit, where he pretends to be sleeping and his super-fit cousin bursts in to ask why the hell he isn’t working out. It’s a bit like a porn film, in just that one regard.


Zoe Williams

The GuardianTramp

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