If you’ve been following any of my attempt-at-health-related blogs, you know that I love Jazzercise. Love, love, love it. A few of my friends, guy friends especially, have teased me about this, and I think maybe it’s the name. It harkens many of us back to an era when “Mousekercising” was a thing you did with Mickey and Donald, and “Jazzercising” was the grown-up version you did if you had boobs, leg warmers, and a braided headband. Or, you know, this….
The sad thing is, I don’t think this looks that bad anymore. I’m 38 and I have two little kids. I’m excited at the idea that I still might have a boogie body. If you tell me I’ve got one, I’ll be happy to move it.
One of my favorite things about Jazzercise is that a dance workout forces me out of my own head in a way that walking, running and even yoga can’t seem to do. Put me on a treadmill and in 15 minutes I’ll be making a grocery list in my head and rationalizing why I should cut my time short and run a quick errand instead. When I go out for a walk or run, I often slow to a stroll after the first mile, contemplating the universe and whether I should get highlights in my hair (answer to both = yes). And I know yoga is supposed to quiet the mind, but my mind doesn’t always get the memo, even mid-Savasana. The second my mind gets quiet, I start to snore, which the person on the mat next to me doesn’t always appreciate.
In Jazzercise, however, my thoughts are less free to wander to my to-do list or my work-in-progress. Jazzercise moves so quickly and requires focus on your body all the time. When my thoughts wander, I lose the beat, lose the steps, and lose momentum. If that happens, I’m in danger of falling down, spraining an ankle, or dancing smack into the person next to me. It forces me to take a break from the day-to-day stressors and focus on me for 60 minutes.
Which isn’t to say I don’t have some
semi-psychotic crazy interesting thoughts during Jazzercise. They’re just a little more contained. Here’s a sampling from some recent classes:
I can’t believe I made it today. I am sooo tired. I wish I hadn’t waffled about whether to come or not, since by the time I got here there was no space in the back. I hate being at the front of the class. Now I have to pay attention and stay on the beat so I don’t throw anyone else off. And everyone can see that my thighs stop moving a couple of seconds after the rest of me. Oh, well, hopefully it won’t be too bad.
This isn’t so terrible. We’re starting with a song I know, so that’s good. [sings to self] Wait: am I wearing the good sports bra, or the back-fat sports bra? Oh, crap. Right foot first, dummy. I’ll just march for a second until I’m back in sync with the group. Oh, wait. Missed it. Aaaaaand got it… just in time for the move to change.
Oh, oh oh! I love this song! This is that one that makes me feel like a badass. Skip, skip, jump. Skip, skip, jump. Chasse, front crossover. Elbows up – love that move. I am kind of a badass. You know, for… me. I guess I am pretty glad I came today. How’s it going back row? Can you keep up with me? Whew. Must remember to breathe. Oops. Sort of hit the wall. I don’t think anyone noticed. Just keep going.
Time for hip hop. You know, I’ve never been a huge hip hop fan but when you dance to something I think you appreciate it differently. That’s right, I’ve got the knee-lift thing down. Check me out getting a little funky – I wonder if Beyonce needs a new backup dancer? She’s gotta have an opening for an overweight white girl who occasionally trips over her own feet and has to be home at 7:30 to tuck in her kids, right? Hmm… I don’t think I’d love being on the road so much.
Now this song, this one I’ve mastered. I’ve got your back-ball-change right here, suckers. I even know when the moves to the music. I am on it. Repeater knees, attitudes, hip lifts. Check, check, check. Maybe I could be an instructor? It seems like a fun job. They’re always so nice. Would be perfect with my writing schedule. Of course I’d have to come every time then, not just when I felt like it. And I think you have to be good at counting. I’m terrible at counting. And it takes me six weeks to master any move involving a single-knee bend. They probably frown on falling off the stage, too, or cussing profusely into the microphone when you miss the beat. With everyone looking up at me, I’d always be wondering if I had something in my nose. Also, public jiggling.
Maybe not. I’ll just try to make it to class three times a week for a while.
Lighter weights or heavy? The eternal question. Should I push myself today? What the heck – I’m feeling pretty good. Let’s go heavier.
[30 seconds pass]
Oh Dear God why did I choose these weights? Burning. So much burning. People were simply not designed to hold their arms over their heads for this long. What am I preparing myself for? Waitressing for very tall people? Hurling boulders? Ugh.
Whew. Arms done. Now glutes, which is fitness-person speak for “butt,” and legs. This is the part where we start using all the fancy French dance names for everything while we’re bending and raising. I’m pretty sure they use the French to make us sound more graceful than we are. In my Costco-brand workout gear, sweat rolling in my eyes, I have a sneaking suspicion that “Arabesque” en Francais really means “Ass Torture.”
The instructor just said, “Channel your inner ballerina.” Hmmm. I’m pretty sure I ate my inner ballerina in 1987. Bitch would not stop twirling. I can release my inner long-haul trucker, though. Is that close enough?
Abs. I don’t want to think about my abs. I’m still not convinced that I actually have abs. What I have that passes for stomach muscle is actually just the rolls of fat working in concert on the false promise of a jelly doughnut. It took me a month to figure out a reverse crunch wasn’t a kind of cereal. Still, often when we do abs we’re listening to Bruno Mars. I’m just going to grit my teeth and pretend that Bruno is here in the room, singing just for me, about when he was my man. And holding a doughnut.
Oh, wow. Stretch already. That flew by, didn’t it? Of course I’m not fooled, I know there’s always one last song after the stretch. The Jazzercise denouement (yeah, writers do the French thing too, for exactly the same reason). But that’s okay because I’m sort of high on endorphins and I feel pretty forgiving. I have totally earned my banana and almond butter rice cake.
At least I can pretend it’s a jelly doughnut.
I’m M.J. (Manda) Pullen, an author and mom in the Atlanta, Georgia area. When I’m not looking up the French translation for “my ass hurts,” (mon mal de cul) I blog about writing, publishing, parenthood, life and the many lessons I’ve learned the hard way.
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