Zumba – End of First Trimester

I’m pleased to announce that as of July 24th, I have successfully completed my first trimester of Zumba and while I’m no expert on Obstetrics, my understanding is that my statistical likelihood of carrying this Zumba to full term is now substantially enhanced, despite my continued misgivings. Yes, the nausea is better, thank you and while I’m still having trouble breathing, I’m getting more adjusted to it. I’m a little nervous about what this Zumba is going to look like at 40 weeks, full term, but some mystery is one of the exciting parts of life, isn’t it.

On Wednesday, I was actually feeling good about all this. I had just come off a recent six months Dr’s checkup, where I had some pretty nice improvements on my blood work, (not that any of that was bad but always nice to see improvement) and I know all this increased exercise is helping. I’ve been finding I can actually make it for thirty minutes of the 55 minute class before I run out of air, gas, motivation and energy, instead of the 6.7 seconds when I started. I’m actually getting the hang of the steps and the arm movements. In fact, I feel fully qualified to taxi any aircraft of any size at any major airport now, and with panache, mind you. Yes, I was feeling pretty good on Wednesday…. and then I went to class.

I was originally thinking that this was my 90 day anniversary, along the lines of “it takes 90 days to form a new habit”, blah blah blah but then on Wednesday, two of the ladies spoke to me. One said I was a “brave soul”, commenting on a man who attended class on Monday and probably wouldn’t be back. “Many are called, few are chosen,” I said. The other said she thought I was slimming down and while not true, was incredibly sweet and supportive. That’s when I realized that I had completed my first trimester and now that they thought I might not miscarry my Zumba, I was in for a little more support.

But, hey, I’m no quitter. When I was in Boy Scouts, our summer camp was “aquatic based” meaning they offered every aquatic merit badge offered in Scouting. My first year I signed up for rowing- sounded like good exercise, fun, how hard could it be, right? Well, one of the requirements was to row the boat out to the middle of the lake (I use this word euphemistically – this was a very very large round ditch, of reddish brown, clay filled water, about 3 feet deep at its center), get out of the row boat, swamp the boat and turn it upside down. You were then supposed to climb up on the bottom of the boat, reach across, grab the gunnel on the OTHER side, pull the boat right side up and row it back half filled with water back to shore. We quickly discovered that I was so short, and as one of my yoga instructors likes to say and with “tyrannosaurus Rex arms” that I would scramble up on the bottom of the boat, and in order to actually REACH the gunnel on the other side, I would have to reach so far, I would FALL OFF the other side. This was VERY FUNNY to the other class participants and the instructor. This went on every day for a week, until I was covered in bruises from my neck to my knees. If it was today, instead of 1968, I would have been removed by Child Protective Services.

Camp Year II. Back to Rowing. I had what they called a “Partial” – meaning I still had credit for all the requirements, except the “turn the boat over”. Row out to middle of lake, swamp boat, scramble on bottom, reach for other side, fall over other side, repeat. I got to where I could do that 10 or 15 times in an hour, Monday through Friday. It had the same humorous effect but towards the end of the week, I started to get some of that special ed sympathy. Friday, camp over, another partial.

Camp Year III Back to Rowing. Still had a Partial. Row out to middle of lake, swamp boat, scramble on bottom, reach for other side, fall over other side, repeat. I’m beginning to take pride in this assortment of body bruises although the camp staff is starting to take this a little personally. Friday comes, time to come home – Another partial.

Camp Year IV I’m welcomed back to the lake by my first name by all the staff, some of which are first year staffers, but who have all heard my story. By now, its a mixture of respect and humiliation. Somebody suggests I should take canoeing. I punch them. I’m on year II of lifesaving. Someone laughingly suggests I get up at 5 am and do the mile swim. I go, and get the patch. Screw you, smart ass – I can do 80 laps – before breakfast. Now you go tomorrow. Wednesday – row out to middle of lake, scramble of bottom on boat, reach across, grab gunnel…. holy shit, I’m still on the bottom of the boat – slide backward, till shoulder pulls from socket, jerk shoulder out of socket the rest of way, boat comes out, turns over, cheers from bank of lake – OMG – I’m in the Rocky Movie. (Ok, Rocky didn’t come out for 5 more years, but I couldn’t think of a better movie reference for 1971)

I love that Zumba brings up every bad childhood memory like this I have, although I have to admit, that ever since, when I’ve ever felt like my back was against the wall and I’ve felt like quitting, I think of rowing. And that smart ass who thought I couldn’t swim a mile. So, I’m taking this Zumba to term. And I may even raise it.

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Zumba Class No…… Hell, I’ve Lost Count

Last Wednesday, it was time to go to Zumba class and I was actually feeling good about it. I should have known this was my first bad sign. I was thinking I was feeling more comfortable with the music, the choreography, a little less humiliated, a little more confident in my ability to get through 55 minutes without cardiac or respiratory arrest. What was I thinking? My good friend, Gilbert, in Walteboro, taught me years ago, the light at the end of the tunnel is usually a train.

So, I saunter in, feelin all frisky for myself, and all rarin to go, and Dale starts class as she always does, by cranking up the first song, which goes fine. Then, the second song starts and I’ve never heard this song, but I think Ok, she’s really good at managing her playlist weekly, keep things fresh; don’t want folks to get bored. I get it. And of course, new song, new choreography. Except everyone else already knows it. Dammit. So, this must not be new. Good times.

Then the next song is new, too. Ok, I think, she’s screwing with me. I get through that song, then then next song is the last straw. I can’t even tell you what the damn song is or was (even though she’s played it for the last three classes) BECAUSE the choreography is Indian dancing (and that would be from INDIA) from the waist up and Irish River Dancing from the waist down. Uh Huh. Having trouble picturing that? Here’s what that looks like….

indian dance top river dance bottom

Now, if you still don’t get it, just take a break, get up from your comfy chair, do that crazy ass prayer hands thing, (with your arms moving constantly of course) and at the same time hop from foot to foot as if you were being attacked by an army of rats high on pot and the only thing between them and a spilled 55 gallon drum of M & M’s was you.

Oh, yeah, I confronted her after class. She had some mamby pamby excuse about having to change playlist to recycle older songs cause otherwise she got bored, doing 49 classes of the same thing every week. Likely excuse. I know she was screwing with me.

What could possibly be next? Lower half, Russian Cossack dancing?

russian cossack dancing

Upper half belly dancing?

No, I know, ZUMBA LEVITATING!!!

russsian cossack levitating

Yoga Fifth Year Anniversary Part II – Euphemisms Part I

I’ve maintained for some time that I don’t understand why the CIA employed waterboarding to get terrorists to give up valuable information when they had yoga at their disposal and lately I’ve wondered how yoga has maintained such a pleasant “om” kind of PR reputation. I think their widespread use of euphemisms is certainly one huge reason, if not the only one.

I thought I’d share just a few of my favorites.

“hip openers” The usual drill, with anatomy lesson supplied, goes something like this. “One of the most common requests heard in a yoga class is “hip openers today please.” This request is usually followed by the other half of the class groaning. We love to hate hip openers yet our bodies crave them and often feel lighter and more open after—for good reason. The majority of us sit for most of our days, shortening the hip flexors at the front of the hip (psoas, rectus femoris, sartorius) and tightening the hip rotators (piriformis, obturator internus, gamellus, to name a few).” From “http://www.myyogaonline.com/about-yoga/yoga-anatomy/what-really-happens-in-hip-openers” No, Here’s what REALLY happens in pigeon pose and other hip openers, but for you non yogis, first a picture of one of the most popular hip openers, half pigeon.

half pigeon

As you start to fold over your hips and descend toward the floor a searing pain originates in your hip which you cant really tell if it’s more like the time you mistakenly, in a drunken state, placed your empty hand on the hot eye of the stove while placing the cast iron frying pan on the non hot eye of the stove to cook that grilled cheese sandwich you wanted OR, if it was that time you thought you really COULD climb a barbed wire fence. Then the instructor says to “BREATHE” and you realized that the end of your hip socket IS actually being pulled OUT of the hip joint, when she says, “focus on your thoughts”, and you realize your thoughts are on the illegitimacy of her birth, and some pretty nasty things about her mother, father, and sexual practices.

“The tension in your shoulders is completely unnecessary”

half moon with block

Uhhhh, actually, yeah it is, ‘cuz I think without it, I’m gonna fall over on my face and chip every single front tooth I have. This actually happened tonight and when she says this, I start laughing, admittedly a little uncontrollably, which is not really cool, in yoga class, where they prefer a “soft smile”. Hell, getting rid of “necessary tension” in my shoulders is one of the 642 reasons I started taking yoga in the first place five years ago and is something I’ve been trying to figure out how to do for about 4/5’s of my my life.

“twists” Does that conjure up in your mind something that tastes good like a pretzel, or a swirly ice cream cone or something equally yummy? Actually, I kind of miss those days when the jokes about practicing yoga was like being twisted into a “pretzel” was actually scary. Pffft, that aint nothing. Here’s what they’re REALLY doin to ya….”Indian yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar describes twists as a “squeeze-and-soak” action: The organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing. So from the physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands.” http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/817 And THAT makes it sound better than it is, actually, when you are standing there, gasping for air, feeling the blood squeezed from your organs, like Paula Deen, squeezing a washrag in the bathroom at her deposition like it was the lawyer on the opposing side; and the toxins coming out of every pore of your body. Feelin that “Pretzel” image now?

Stay tuned for “Euphemisms, part II, “focus on your breath, and listen to your body”.

“We all live in a yellow submarine”.

Zumba and my continued descent into mental illness

I was waiting for Zumba to start this morning, and Alpha no ! walks in with a Black Helmet on. I grab my keys and phone and start heading for the door. “Where you going?”, Dale asked. “I’m leaving,” I said. “If whatever you’re doing today involves helmets, I’m outta here”. Alpha no one, said no, she rode a motorcycle. I was still apprehensive, but I stayed anyway.

Dale is an itinerant Zumba teacher, and the Saturday class is in a small dance studio which shall remain nameless, for obvious reasons momentarily. You can tell from their wall propaganda and photos, that their target market in this upscale high income suburban demographic are young girls who want to compete in both dance competitions and in pageants. They have one dance room. Their motivation slogan in this room is the following:

dance anatomy

Now, I raised daughters, and my daughter will tell you I’m a pretty liberal guy. I enrolled her in both ballet, ( so she could experience grace and beauty – she hated it) and karate ( cause I told her she could date anybody she wanted when she got older as long as she could beat the shit out of anyone she dated) BUT, I never took her anywhere where the slogan was, “Everything we do, we do it BIG, BLACK and YELLOW”.

Maybe its just me, because those who know me, know I’m a quotations junkie. So, here’s just a couple of suggestions for what could have gone up on the wall:

Here’s a few by Martha Graham, maybe one of the most famous choreographers and dancers of the 20th century:
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”
“The body says what words cannot.”
“Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place.”
“The body is a sacred garment.”

instead we have…..
“Everything we do, we do it BIG, BLACK and YELLOW”. Wow, Really? I have some other suggestions if they want to go in the OTHER direction with the motivational wall sayings, but they involve pole dancing and violate pages 3,4,7,8, and 11-14 of Dale’s censorship instructions, but you get the idea.

The entire back wall of this studio are floor to ceiling glass windows, overlooking a … Wait for it… A WAFFLE HOUSE. So, basically, we perform for the Saturday morning, hung over, “I need a cholesterol fix”,rush. Some guys came to the window and tried to dance along this morning. It was both hysterical and very Kafkaesque. (As much time as I have spent eating in waffle houses, the Karma of it all is not lost on my fat ass either- this is some pecan waffle dharma karma here, fer shizzle)

But then, just when I think I should lobby to have Zumba added to the DSM V, these Belly Scarf Divas crack me up. (And alpha no 2 looked red carpet spectacular in her new yves st laurent zebra print belly scarf – who knew designers did those?). I think they should start a club. Red hat ladies ain’t got shit on you girls! Rock on.

“We all live in a yellow submarine”.

4th of July and Bikram Hot Zumba

Rendered speechless by this event and completely flummoxed by where to begin, I’ll start at the beginning. It all began, innocently enough, with Dale’s Facebook post that read:

Z U M B A ……. the 4th of July!
Celebrate Freedom, Choice, and Opportunity!
Work off your holiday before the holiday begins….
Creative Spark, Mt. Pleasant at 10AM on Thursday 7/4
It will be a FUN class! yessssssssssssssss……..

Oh how naive we can be. I heard several in Wednesday’s class remark how hot it was at that facility. Pfffft, I thought. It’s Charleston. It’s hot everywhere. Think 75 people in a corrugated metal room the size of a McDonald’s bathroom on hot asphalt, bearing the full brunt of the morning sun, all dancing as fast as they can. While, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but they did hand out iced wash cloths half way through class.

Props to Dale, it was a beautiful celebration of America for the Fourth of July however. Young, old, children, first timers, regulars, men, women, what a group. And my first ever picture of me actually doing Zumba. Ready…… Here it is.

image

Can you see me? No? In the very, very, very, back corner, with the red shirt, and green iced washcloth on my head? No? Still not? Thank God.

I had a revelation today though. Dale has this one song where I just can’t keep up with her, them, or the song. I didn’t know how to explain it, so I did some research so I could. It has to do with “musical time signature.” The musicians know exactly what I’m talking about. For regular folk, think of the beat you feel with a song you like or dance to….that 1,2,3-1,2,3-1,2,3 or that 1,2,3,4-1,2,3,4; which are beats per measure or musical signature time. And of course, the movements match those beats. Dale has actually found a song on 64/64 time, or with 64 beats per measure and has actually devised choreography in which she does 64 distinct movements a second. She and the entire class of women look like hummingbirds at that point to me. My eyes can’t even see that fast. I’m so slow, it’s taken me five weeks to even come up with the words to describe moving to music that fast.

But, there was a Gift from the Universe. There was another guy in class Wednesday and two guys there today. They xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. (Dale issued blog censorship instructions last week. Just a couple of things, 14 pages, single spaced. She’s known me for three years so I’d be disappointed if she trusted my judgment or my filter). I think I can safely say however, I feel better about my own Zumba performance and I no longer need to go see Brad Pitt in that new Zombie movie.

I woke up on the couch at 5:30 am the other day to…the Zumba infomercial. Believing in synchronicity, I watched it. A blonds actually said, “it’s so EASY”. I hit rewind on TiVo. Yup. That’s what she said. Hit record. I have your picture. I’m coming to hunt you down.

Lastly, I do periodically want to shamelessly promote Dale’s class. Www.zumbabeat.com. Not everyone will like it of course, but for those that do, it’s a transformational experience. A little girl, maybe about 9, was there today. Both her parents and her granddad, came with her, because she loves Zumba so much. Her Dad told me she tells them she always gets on the front row. I have never seen a child so filled with joy. Her family came to Zumba for the first time, because they wanted to experience that joy with her. Props to you Dale for giving that little girl the gift at such a young age of associating working out with such joy. What a change we could make with obesity in this country with that model. Love, Joy, Dance, Music, Friends, Family. How cool is that!

“I am the Walrus, Goo goo, ga joob”.