Monday, April 26, 2010

Rules For The Aerobically-Challenged

First rule:  Choose wisely.

You’re thinking about taking one of those trendy dance aerobics classes that combine latin, salsa, and hip-hop moves with high-intensity dance music.  That’s fine, but don’t be fooled into thinking that “dancing” makes aerobics “less work.”  It is not only not less work, it is probably more work.  Watching “Dancing With The Stars” might have taught you the difference between the cha-cha and the tango, but  unless you have some actual dance training, these are not moves that come naturally to your body.

Second rule:  Location, location, location.

You can't just stand wherever there's an open space; the place you stand affects the entire class. You don't want to be at the front, because then everyone behind you can see you mess up constantly. You don't want to be at the back, because then it's your fanny that the people on the treadmills are watching through the glass wall. You don't want to be on the extreme sides, either, because when you do moves that turn you around, you will all of a sudden have no one to watch.  The best place to stand? At home. Or in the locker room. Or under an invisibility cloak, although that might trip you up a little.

Third rule: Don’t hold back.

Nothing makes up for a complete lack of skill like bounding enthusiasm. Do the moves with reckless abandon, with a great big smile on your face. People can't judge you nearly as harshly if they think you are either a) enjoying yourself or b) too dim to know you're doing it wrong.

Fourth rule, and this one's important: Don't look in the mirror!

Don't even glance!  So what if you feel like the tutu-wearing hippo in Fantasia? You are as graceful as Ginger Rogers, as sultry as Shakira.  Don't let anything crack that facade. It's the only thing keeping you going, that pretense of not looking like a complete idiot. Under no circumstances should you let reality invade that beautiful mental picture!

Fifth rule: You’re not alone.

If your ego needs a boost, look at someone worse than you.  Surely you're not the only one in the class who is struggling, right? Avert your eyes from the cute skinny blondes who seem to know the moves intuitively. Ignore the pregnant women in the back whose fetuses are probably more coordinated than you. Focus instead on the woman on the left with the red face, who keeps turning the wrong direction and looks like she's doing jumping jacks while everyone else is doing the mambo. Yes, that woman, who keeps stepping on her own feet and just whacked herself in the face with her arm. At least she looks like she's having fun, she's got such a big smile on her face... Wait a second, that's YOU!! I said DON'T look in the mirror!!!

Sixth rule: Banish any jiggling from your consciousness.

Just because your thighs and butt are as wiggly as a plate of Jell-o, doesn't mean you need to dwell on that. It will bring you nothing but pain, my friend. That’s the purpose of the tight clothes everyone wears, to keep all of your excess flab in one place. It’s much easier to exercise if you know your butt isn't a half-step behind the rest of your body. But until you have rock hard abs, keep any thoughts of how you would make a great female Santa (shakes when she exercises like a bowl full of jelly), out of your mind.

Seventh rule: Don't give up.

So what if you looked like a complete moron the entire hour?  That the instructor directed some pointed encouragement your way and the treadmill runners thanked you for the great entertainment?  You lasted the whole hour! You sweated and huffed and wheezed your way through 60 minutes of seriously intense aerobics! At the end of the day, your body doesn't know how embarrassed it should be at your lack of finesse, all your body knows is that you burned some major calories. That’s great, so long as you don't drown your humiliation in a pint of Haagen Dazs. And if you can follow these simple rules, you too can join the ranks of the aerobically-inclined.

This post was originally written in September 2008, but I rewrote it for class this semester and thought I'd share the polished version.  You can read the old cruddy one here, but why would you?


Helen Knowles said...

This is great, Emily. I used to love taking aerobics (prior to dance aerobics-Kim was in nursery school so it was a long, long time ago), and I have my own rules:

1. Go with some friends (you can have a blast and you won't feel so conscious of what you are/are not doing correctly.
2. There's always someone in the class who can totally put a smile on your face.
3. If you keep going, you can't help but lose weight. I never had to worry about anything I ate when I was taking aerobics (ice cream included).
4. We were always in the middle or the back (but our class was in a church gymnasium).
5. A great instructor makes the time fly by and is good for encouragement when you feel like you want to quit.
6. It's a great stress reliever - you can lose yourself for an hour while the class is going on and you normally feel better when the class is over.
7. Drink plenty of water during class - a sip here and there is all you need to feel refreshed.
8. Don't give up - it's totally worth the effort and when the class is over (12 weeks or so), you can treat yourself to something new because you'll be heading for a clothing size.

Great post - you really captured the experience well.

Ashley Wakefield said...

emily! its ashley from your creative writing class. Im so excited to post this on my blog. youre the best, you talented writer!!

Dad said...

I particularly appreciate your "don't look in the mirror" thing. Once when we were on a cruise I was on the jogging track pounding away, feeling bulky, thinking of what a great stride I had when I saw my reflection in a window and ohhh was it painful. All I could think was... hmmm who's the old guy with grey hair and looks like he's going to fall over. Yikes! its me. There was a Norman Rockwell self portrait that it reminded me of being.