Posts Tagged With: dance class

On the hilarity of the adult exercise class… an insider’s perspective

So it’s Friday, so that means my dance exercise class has come around again.  Is it just me, or is there not something hilarious and side-splittingly funny about the whole adult exercise class concept and execution?  Random individuals gathering in sports halls and studios across the land, fighting age and gravity in pursuit of raised cardio activity and tauter toned physiques.  Surely a manifestation of the bottomless (if misguided) optimism that occasionally seizes us all in our struggle to keep (or get) fit.

This particular class is held in a small studio with full length mirrors, which is part of a wider sporting complex.  I arrive, shuffling in self-consciously at the back, having already met a couple of other class-goers in the loos.  We are variously complaining of both ailments (bit run down, tired, you know how it is) and digestive challenges (why is cheese so hard to process now I’m older/ I shouldn’t have eaten so close to exercise).  Personally I am suffering on both counts.  My leg still feels strangely numb post yesterday’s run out, and in addition, that lentil and quinoa soup I had earlier (no, I really did, I am a very healthy eater, it’s just I have never really grasped the concept of portion control and I tend to eat other stuff on top, oh well, we all have to have our weaknesses, lack of will power is just one of  mine) has led me potentially to windy city… not a promising start to the class.

It was quite nice to be back though, our fitness instructor is as always smiling hugely and welcoming.  I don’t know how she does this, she is a whirlwind of energy and smiles.  Has she found a human version of catnip?  Is it genetic?

I found myself sort of hugging a wall and trying to disappear into it.  It is so weird, that childlike thing that all of us in this particular class seem to do, not wanting to be at the front.  We seek to make ourselves invisible – perhaps because we are self conscious about both our athleticism (not enough)  and our bodies (too much).  I am certainly, and it seems  probable my fellow groupies feel likewise, so we lurked around the edges, even though this is  clearly ridiculous.  You can’t hide in a studio box, especially one with mirrors on one side, windows on another and with such tiny dimensions that even we ten or so attendees constitute a crowd.  I chatted to one woman who I’ve noticed has come a few times too.  She was debating whether or not to wear trainers for the class – there is quite a lot of toe pointing.  I told her I have to, on account of the arthritis in my feet.  I just came out with it and then felt ancient and decrepit at my confession.  I can’t risk going up on my toes in bare feet because I feel the bones in my feet disintegrating as I do.  I wondered if I’d over-shared, so to break the tension I just told her that I was OK with recognising that my dancing career probably wasn’t going to take off at this point (due to age not talent, obviously), but I was happy to just focus on my running  instead.  We both laughed.  In fact we bonded, she told me by way of exchange of her own running catastrophe earlier in the week.  She went out for a run, long enough to be knackered and feel quite smug,  and then on return to her car she realised to her absolute horror, that she’d dropped her keys somewhere on the route.  She had to do the whole thing again.  To make matters even worse, when she did spot them, they were in the hands of another runner who’d thoughtfully picked them up.  This meant she had to do another sprint to catch up with him.  He was a really good runner.  I felt her pain.


So we embarked on our flailing around, trying to stand and balance on one leg, gyrate our hips, and follow the uncertain rhythms of the rather abstract music which was ‘modern’ and discordant, and don’t even know what word to use to describe it’s genre. The instructor executed each move with poise and vim, the rest of us stumbled about in her wake.  At one point looking at our collective reflection in the mirror I would swear not one of us was facing the same way or doing the same move. Imagine a group of kids of all shapes and sizes in say pre-school, (at an age when they haven’t fully learned to either follow instructions or co-ordinate limbs properly) trying to work out a routine to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and you might get some idea of the image reflecting back at us   Inevitably there were one or two amongst  the group with some innate ability and flair, but they weren’t enough to distract from the endemic ineptitude that surrounded them.   It was hilarious.  I don’t mind at all being so rubbish, but I am amazed that our instructor doesn’t find it more dispiriting.  The main thing though is to keep mobile, and have fun, I can at least do that.

It is only a 45 minute class, but I was exhausted by the end of it.  My leg didn’t feel particularly worse at the end of it, and I was glad I went,  Another class down.  I wonder if I will ever get any more supple or balanced over time, but regrettably, the only way to find out is to stick with it.  Watch this space….

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Unleash your inner dancing queen…

Cross training is the way to go apparently.  It seems if I am ever to make any measurable progress with my running, or at least attempt to hold back the tide of decrepitude that comes with the relentless march of time, it is a good idea to try and find other forms of exercise.

I know my balance is rubbish, my core non-existent, in fact it’s amazing I can remain upright long enough to do the washing up some days.   Possibly as evidence of this, or alternatively as an amusing aside, I once told a spotty youth at an induction session for a gym that I had a genetic abnormality that meant I didn’t have any abdominal muscles and so couldn’t do any sit ups or crunches etc.  He eyed me up, and clearly this seemed all too plausible to him, ‘ok, just skip them’  he said.  It didn’t instil a great deal of confidence in me for his basic knowledge of human anatomy nor physical exercise.  Most importantly of all no rapport, no shared sense of humour, no progress to be made.  It maybe didn’t help that when introducing ourselves at the reception before our shared induction, my friend unzipped her fleece only for a ketchup soaked chip to fly out and land in the paper diary on the desk.  Never have I seen ketchup splatter so far and to such devastating effect.  She had been starving whilst waiting for me outside after a long day of work, grabbed some chips to chomp on for quick carbohydrate fix and obviously one had had dropped down her top in her haste to consume them. One way or another we never did go back…

Anyway, I digress, I have been seeking some sort of class to supplement my running.  I can’t motivate myself, and I don’t fancy any more outdoor sessions now winter is drawing in apace.  I want not too expensive, good humoured but knowledgeable leadership.  How fortuitous that the same fitness instructor who marshalled us for the Endurer Dash runs regular classes at a not to distant social club.  I like her positivity, it is almost pathological, and certainly infectious, or maybe contagious.  It might be contagious as she is quite tactile and huggy so could be spread either by physical touch or be airborne, not that it matters, the ability to pass on enthusiasm and positivity can only be a good thing.

The class is loosely based on dance moves, but that’s not entirely obvious to me.  I do find it much harder than I ought to, but it is definitely fun.  There is a lot of hip gyrating, and standing on one leg (or more accurately wobbling on one leg).  The main thing that will motivate me to stick with it is probably the wall of mirrors that we face throughout.  There is no way you can hide your physique from that reality check.  Normally I will only stand in front of a full length mirror for a very limited period of time, the tolerable maximum duration being however long I can hold my stomach in for on any one particular day.  I defy anyone to hold their stomach in for a whole 45 minute work out session, particularly one where you are standing on one leg for durations that even a self respecting flamingo might query.  Despite the difficultly of the balance exercises, and the torture of the mirrors, the exercise class itself is strangely compulsive.

The instructor (coach, leader – I don’t know what you call these people) anyway, she has super-human mobility and stretch.  She can do things with her body that I didn’t think were possible.  She will ‘simply fold’ over, legs outstretched in front of her, reaching out effortless to touch her toes whilst burying her head on her knees and flattening her prone back. I am still pretty much as a right angle.  I don’t even know  which bit of my body is preventing the move.  Is it because my stomach rolls get in the way, or is it because my ham strings are so tight they aren’t giving a millimetre in any circumstances, try as I may.  Same with sit ups.  She can do this amazing ‘impossible’ manoeuvre where she lies flat on her back, arms stretched above her and legs  outstretched and hard against the floor, then in one graceful movement  she slowly sits upright without using her arms to push her up or letting her legs lift from the floor, she arcs her arms round to touch her toes and folds her whole body against her legs, and then slowly and controlled with her steel abs uncurls and then repeats.  I don’t see how this is humanly possible.  It certainly isn’t humanely possible.  The only comfort I take is that whilst I flail around, not even able to get up to a sitting position without using my arms to help me, I can see in the mirrors that the rest of the class is similarly struggling like so many fish out of water.  Whilst the graceful instructor performs this miracle of muscular control, the rest of us flap about and sweat, thrashing around on the floor to little effect.  One day perhaps…

Despite these indignities, the class is fun, I sweat a lot, and I know I’ll ache afterwards.  It goes quickly, and you emerge into the sharp cold air of Autumn and the dark night almost in a state of shock.  What happened there?  How did I get myself into that?  It is glorious, this is exercise that is fun.

Our coach also has a good trick, after the session she always sends a  text saying how awesome we all are, and how proud she is of our ‘non stop energy’ or whatever.  The thing is, even though I know this is a motivational technique, and I know it is her job to be positive and even though I strongly suspect the contents may not be entirely true re our energy and enthusiasm levels (let’s agree it might be an appropriate use of a little white lie…) it still sort of works.  You get a warm glow of achievement.  Yes I am non-stop with my energy and enthusiasm yes I can do this.  Yes. We. Can!  It seems I am just as shallow as I thought, all it really takes to motivate me is a kind word and a broad smile.

Dance classes on a Friday, core work on a Tuesday night, bring it on.

Categories: fitness class, motivation | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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