Enchanted Trees of Wales:
The 'Keep fit' Oak of the Begwyns.
This is a series I began first on my Instagram feed,
and I thought it could do with expanding.

An enchanted tree

This enchanted tree is on the National Trust-owned common land, and can be viewed at SO164437

Keep fit gurus are not a new phenomena. The 15th century was littered with personal trainers, aerobics instructors and morning motivators, all vying for the small amount of disposable income the peasants possessed, usually a discarded turnip head or shiny pebble, both of which could be traded in the affluent areas of Cardiff and Lampeter.

Outdoor aerobics were a particular favourite, and one well-known practitioner could boast an attendance of almost 80% of the young and able bodied of Radnorshire with her at one time, a number that is strongly suggested to be 'at least nine'.

Whilst the use of leotards and leg warmers ares still as yet unsubstantiated, workouts were often accompanied by a small boy on a drum, and the trainers themselves enjoyed considerable elevation in their community, and beyond - what might be seen as the 'first celebrity that didn't involve being a priest or putting foreigners to the sword.'

What is also known is that many people viewed keep-fit gurus as just as annoying then as they are now, with the perception of gleefully over-the-top exercising regimes that only they can achieve, and a fetishising of a body image that few could possibly hope to attain.

One such detractor was Wizard Pugh of Colva, who thought the keep fit gurus were muscling in on his mostly quack remedies and long established dislike of preventative medicine. In a spike of anger - person-into-tree enchantments are pretty much always this - Wizard Pugh found a Mrs Daltry taking a class beside a small lake, and when she wouldn't stop jogging on the spot to talk to him, and then invited him to join her crew, she instantly changed her to a tree.

The tree can still be seen there today, and is used by scholars to study ancient exercise regimes, although they can't agree on whether Mrs Daltry was doing a jumping jack when she was enchanted, or simply arm circles - or possibly even none of these and instead part of an early dance routine.

For his part, Wizard Pugh was caught and sentenced to hang for his illegal enchantment, but upon the day of his execution this was commuted to seventy-six squats, fifteen lunges and forty-seven arm curls.

Original content for Jasperland, April 20th 2020

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