Thursday, September 15, 2011

How I accidentally learned African Dance

If you follow me on the twitter or read my updates on the book, you may already be savvy to the story that I accidentally took an African Dance class over my lunch hour on Wednesday. While many were entertained by this (which I'm always happy to provide) the most common reaction was, "how exactly does that happen?" Although, my pal Brigid did comment that it could possibly be the best status ever...from which I beamed with pride.

So, I figured it's only fair that because I have another communication vehicle that lets me elaborate more than 160 characters, I'd answer that question.

The short version is: I can't read a schedule, am easily convinced and fell victim to a last minute decision change.

The long version is this:

Given my looming punishment of running, I've been doing very well at making sure I get in four workouts a week. One way I'm making sure this happens is fitting in my lunchtime workouts. These are like little treasures I love.

I'm straying here a little bit but stay with me. (I find myself asking you to do that more and more lately.) Post-work work-outs (so many hyphens) are tough because there is almost always something I'd rather be doing. Pre-work work-outs are tough because I hate getting out of bed in the morning, have daily battles with the snooze button, and just pretty much don't work. So there's that. Lunch time work-outs (when they fit and I can sneak away) are fantastical. They clear my mind, pump me full of energy for the afternoon, and are just great little breaks in my day.

So back to the story, I had planned to work out over lunch. I checked the gym's schedule and the lower Bodyworks class I liked so much was at 11:30. Perfect, packed up at 11:20, walked over to the gym, changed and headed to the room where the class was. That's when this other woman starts talking about Zumba. How they've had a hard time finding an instructor, and last week there was a sub who taught this African Dance class, yadda yadda yadda. (This is when I realize I can't read a schedule.) She clearly points out (in a very polite way...polite as in "I could be working with someone special here" polite) that zumba is from 11:30-12:15 and Bodyworks is from 12:30-1:00. Perfect.

But at this point, I'm here, I'm changed, I'm ready to sweat. And she says, "you should totally just stay for Zumba!" (Here's where I'm easily convinced.) I thought, "I was really hoping for strength training, but I like zumba, and I have time...I'm already here! SURE! Let's ZUMBA!"

In walks the instructor. He plugs in his ipod and I hear drums and chanting. Not like "ole!" but more like I'm picturing the open scene to Lion King chanting. The ONLY OTHER person in the room (my friend who helped me read a calendar) asks, "So are you teaching African Zumba today?" and he just giggles and turns around to start class. And this? This is when I think to myself, "Fuck, I'm in an African Dance class."

Two other ladies joined us shortly after class started. But there was at maximum FOUR PEOPLE in the class. Which, if you're picturing this at home, makes you realize how much of an ass I would have felt like if I had peaced out on the class. So there I am, taking an African Dance class. (Note here, the two other woman who joined late, did in fact peace out. I bet they realized they were accidentally taking African Dance too.)

It should be noted here. I'm not a good dancer. I can keep up, I "get" the motions, but there's very little about it that looks natural or even good. But, given my 10+ years participating in and then coaching cheerleading, I function on a 5-6-7-8 basis. I live in the 5-6-7-8. African Dance takes 5-6-7-8 and beats the hell out of it with drums until you no longer can find 5-6-7-8. The instructor calls this "beat changes" and that's what you use to know where you're at in the dance. After 45 minutes, I never found these so-called beat changes.

It should also be noted that I'm a stiff person. As much as I like to think that I'm a damn good hip-hop booty shaker (and I am, in my mind, when I'm alone, in my car), my body doesn't actually move the way I think it does in my mind. African Dance is all about feeling those beat changes and fluid, flowing motions. And again I reiterate, at no point was anything I was doing flowing or fluid. Jerky and awkward at best. There was rolling on the floor (I have bruises to prove it) and another where we emulated elephants. I'm certain nothing I did looked anything like any elephant I've ever seen.

But, here's the thing: I tried something new. I didn't hate it (I don't know that I'll be running back to the class, but I didn't hate it.) The instructor supposedly trained in Africa (which makes it pretty legit given he was a skinny white boy). However, he kept changing things as we were going along, because he made it up as we went. He also seemed pretty into showing off his moves. It's minor complaining, but if you're going to teach a bunch of white girls who think they're in Zumba, maybe you come in with a dance already choreographed and keep it simple. We're all already lost, your fancy moves are only making us feel less capable.

According to my heart rate monitor I burned 415 calories, not bad for an accidental workout. And on Thursday morning, my ass informed me, it had gotten a workout as I walked up and down stairs. So I'll take it as a win.

Plus, I get to say things like, "I accidentally took an African Dance class over lunch."

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