There are few forms of exercise I enjoy as much as running, but a recent combination of fate and a really great Groupon deal led me to the crazy world of Jazzercise. I have to say, it’s pretty entertaining.
$40 for 10 opportunities to show the world how uncoordinated I am? Yes, please.
I’ve wandered in to the realm of organized dance classes before. At a young age (preschool, I’m pretty sure) my mom signed me up for ballet. Always a stickler for making her children follow through on their committments, I have a vague memory of hinting that I didn’t care for ballet and I believe she withdrew me from class that day. Flash forward about 30 years. My sister Abby dragged me, unwilling and complaining, to my first Zumba class. I think she did it because she wanted tears of laughter to mix in with the sweat pouring from her hairline. I mean, she’s seen me dance before! It took me months to master the Macarena back in high school, and even then, my sisters would position me at the back of the line during our living room performances so I wouldn’t mess them up! Zumba was a disaster. I barely broke a sweat, due to the fast-changing dance moves and my inability to coordinate my upper limbs with my lower extremities. Humiliation reigned as I realized the 70+ year old man in front of me could ease seamlessly from one fast-paced Latin number to the next. Abby found this all hilarious. She owed me post-Zumba ice cream, for sure.
So when the Dynamic Duo known as my aunts Cindy and Karen asked me to try Jazzercise with them, I was surprised to hear myself agreeing and, strangely, feeling excited. I grew up in the 80s. Jazzercise was to 1982 what Zumba is to 2012. I remember tall, thin women dressed in leotards and leg warmers of varying neon colors jazzing it up in living rooms and YMCAs all over the place. My mother may or may not have bought in to the craze at her local women’s gym. Everything–the coordinating outfits and mini trampolines and the soundtrack to Footloose–appealed to my school aged self and I remember watching the dance moves curiously.
And now, as an adult, I had an opportunity to be brought in to the fold!
Our first class was at 8:30 on a Saturday morning a couple months ago. We were greeted at the Parks and Rec building by the perkiest, blondest, most adorable woman in Spandex you can ever imagine. Ellen. Oh Ellen…picture what would happen if Richard Simmons and Debbie Gibson had a secret love child. That’s Ellen. She welcomed the three of us so warmly and with so much excitement, I couldn’t help but ditch my self-consciousness at the door. Still took a spot in the back, mind you, but I figured that if this darling woman was going to be leading our dance moves, things couldn’t be all bad.
I ran in to trouble pretty much right after the warm-ups. Ellen was determined to bring back the Grapevine. (80s! The California Raisins, remember?!?) My eight year old self had trouble with those moves and my 33 year old self wasn’t proving to be much more coordinated. While not as fast-paced as Zumba, Jazzercise still requires that you do one motion with your upper body and a completely opposite motion with your legs. That seems to be the bulk of my problem. But you know what? The soundtrack was great! In fact, I want you all to pause here and pull up your iTunes account. Start playing the song You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful, by One Direction. (Oh come on. You know it’s on your playlist. There’s no shame. This post was meant to be read to the tune of silly boy bands.) I can no longer hear this song without grinning and thinking of perky little Ellen, jutting her hips and ribs out at odd angles and encouraging us to follow along. My ribs will never follow Ellen’s. “Come on ladies! Show me that sexy hip walk!” Imagine your mother doing a “sexy hip walk”. Now do it without laughing. You can’t, right? So, even though I wasn’t even close to sexy hip walking, I was having a blast. Just TRYING to follow Ellen was hilarious.
Several classes in, and I have improved exactly zero percent. But what I lack in skill I completely make up for in enthusiasm. Danita, another instructor, teaches the weekday classes. Graceful as a swan, Danita guides everyone but me through complicated “sashays” and box steps. Her soothing southern accent disguises the fact that she’s trying to kill us all. When things get too disjointed between my upper and lower halves, I satisfy my craving for an elevated heart rate by acting like a spaz in the back row. I have accepted my fate as entertainment for all around me, particularly Cindy, who gasped at one point “you’re just so BAD at this!” (How does she have the coordination to keep up with Danita and mock me at the same time? Your guess is as good as mine.)
I have also, on occasion, caught Danita pointing at me and laughing.
Jazzercise is a fabulous workout. We finish the last 20 minutes of class with weights, which is a great way for a runner to work in a little cross-training. So run, don’t walk! Find your nearest Jazzercise class today and get yourself signed up! Highly recommended by women in Spandex who listen to Justin Bieber!