To Dance, to Dream, to Exercise
by Connie Trump
Exercise. No other word in our language can churn up the guilt like this one can. We all know we should do it. We all know we feel better after we do it. And we look so good if we keep doing it. But it also feels so good to turn over in bed and catch a few more z's, especially on cold or rainy days. It's also fun to sluff an aerobics class, just once in a while. And when we're sick, hey, that's the best excuse of all.
Maybe we're all just bored.
Have you thought of taking a dance class instead?
Some people think aerobics is dance but it really isn't. There is no technique to learn, no point of perfection to reach for. No art. Just grit your teeth, fling those arms and legs, and hold out until your pulse reaches the desired number on a chart. No wonder it feels so good to sluff. And the music! Rock 'n Roll played at earsplitting levels while your instructor screams at you to "go for the burn!"
No wonder we quit.
Health spas have great machines to help you on your way to bodily perfection, providing you can get on one during the one hour you have free. And video tapes? How many of those Hollywood Honeys have had even one child? How many are over 35? I'll talk to them when they join the real world.
I began a ballet class last September. Some of us are little more than beginners, some are more advanced. We're all over 30 (some of us are well over) and all of us have some physical ailment: bad knees or backs, arthritis, Epstein-Barr disease. My daughter calls us "Ballet for the Impaired." We laugh at this, but the truth is, this has been the best thing we have ever found.
Our teacher, Marcia McCutchen, is a former prima ballerina. She is also over 35 and has six kids! A woman from the real world at last! She gives options for every exercise, slow, intermediate, or advanced. We also use light weights during some exercises to strengthen legs and upper body. She knows ever muscle and tendon and a variety of ballet exercises to work each to perfection.
And the music is sheer heaven. Not just classical pieces, but wonderful, danceable music in many styles like Scott Joplin and show-tunes.
The combination of good music and kinetic dance steps gives us a great, heart-pounding workout, but it doesn't feel like exercise. Muscles are growing taut, weight is coming off, and we are having fun!
Maybe ballet isn't your idea of a fun time (although it works more deep muscle groups than other dance forms) so try something else like jazz, tap, or modern. Many schools offer adult only classes and try very hard to accommodate adults and their busy schedules. And don't think you have to be ashamed of your body. many teachers allow sweats to be worn, and after you see how everyone else looks, it really doesn't matter what you look like anymore because everyone is pretty much in the same boat you are. And the camaraderie and encouragement from other members of the class is a tonic all in itself.
It's a cinch we aren't going to be professional dancers because we take these classes. But ever once in a while, when the pirouette is perfect, or the leap is higher than we