A tango for you

(The original appeared in the CharlestonMercury Newsletter).

Even the heat of a Lowcountry summer seems a bit brisk compared to the sultry Argentine tango. Image in public domain. (Ed)


Having been asked by the Mercury to write a little bit about my experiences in the mysterious world of the tango, I thought it appropriate to address the most common questions I receive. Such questions are perfectly legitimate and I’m always happy to answer them.

The decorous expectations of the “salmon sheets” restrict me from writing some of my more colorful thoughts … but there is a good-humored difference between what I think and what I say. So here goes the Q&A … if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me through the Mercury.

Q: “Wow! Eleven years! You must be an expert?”

A: “No, but I’m average,” is what I say.

What I’m thinking: “You play golf? Wow, 11 years! You must be as good as Tiger Woods!”

Q: “Oh, I’d love to do that, but I can’t dance.”

A: “We have weekly lessons. Tango is a walking dance — if you can walk, you can tango.”

What I’m thinking: “Yep, I was born with the “Gene Kelly gene” and one day, when I was four years old, I pulled away from my mother, snatched a hot blonde out of a convertible and recreated the dance number from Singin in the Rain on King Street in front of the old Kerrison’s Department store. Dude, you’re looking at a short, obese middle-aged guy who was always picked last for any sport from first grade through ninth grade gym. That’s why you take lessons. And practice”

Q: “Is it hard?”

A: “If you can walk, you can tango!”

What I’m thinking: “While you’re taught some steps, Argentine tango is a completely improvised social dance using all non-verbal communication in which the leader must maintain their own axis and balance, know at all times what foot the follower is on, communicate direction, distance and speed with energetic communication and musicality all the while dancing to the ability and heart of the follower. The follower is reading these subtle and energetic forms of communication so as to move, almost in any direction, at any time, without anticipation or expectation, backwards, in high heels almost always on one foot. Yep — it’s a breeze.”

Q: “Do you have to have a partner?”

A: “No, some couples do come regularly and some dance mostly with each other, but most people dance with everybody.”

What I’m thinking: A delicate analogy works better here than anything else but, alas, my filter has kicked in again. A good tango friend summed it up this way. “If you’re in a relationship and only one of you dances tango, that’s a problem. If you’re in a relationship and you both dance tango, that’s also a problem.”

Q: “How did you hear about it?”

A: True story. I attended a meetup event in a group that I had been attending for quite a while. A new woman walked in and sat down, so later I walked over to make her feel welcome. As we were going through the usual “what do you do/where are you from/what brings you here, blah, blah, blahs, I became obsessed with the four packs of breath mints next to her purse.

“Ok, I can’t help it,” I say, “What’s the deal with the breath mints!?!? Is there something we need to know about your breath? Or were you expecting a problem with our breath?”

She burst out laughing. “No,” she said, “I dance Argentine tango and when you’re that close to people, breath mints are a must. Maybe not four packs.”

My head turned to the side like a German shepherd who hears a high-pitched sound no one else can hear but he doesn’t recognize.

“What the hell is Argentine tango?”

There’s a free class every Tuesday at MUSC and the rest is history. And I always carry breath mints.

[That free class is now five dollars and still is every Tuesday … except during global pandemics because tango, if you think about the whole cheek-to-cheek thing, is mildly out of accord with social distancing rules. Anyway, you can find us as the Charleston Argentine Tango Society (C.A.T.S) on Facebook. Before attending, I recommend you visit YouTube and search “Argentine tango” and at least take a peek down Alice’s Rabbit Hole. ]

Last Q: “Why do you do it?”

A: “We all crave connection. When you get on the dance floor with a perfect stranger, chest to chest, cheek to cheek, heart to heart and the music starts and your breathing synchronizes and you move in perfect harmony, with the music, with the beat, in what tango calls ‘two bodies, four legs, one heart’ and you lose all sense of time and space till, at the end, the music stops and you stay in the embrace a moment or two longer … that’s why.”

Lawrence Laddaga is partner at Laddaga and Garrett, a leading local provider of legal services for the health care industry. And his breath is minty, minty fresh. (Ed)


Zumba – My 5 Year Anniversary

Or “Millenials and the 8 Faces of a First Zumba Class.

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since my first Zumba class and the start of this blog, where I related my first near death Zumba experience and opined my self concept of my first attempt was playing charades to the title “Drunk On an Electric Fence”. I guess because that class involved such a roller coaster deep dive into the most basic emotions of my lizard brain, I confess I watch newcomers to class with a psychological fascination. After five years, my completely non scientific observations of these first timers has revealed nothing unexpected EXCEPT for millennials. In watching these fairly standard reactions I confess to vacillating between feelings of comedic delight and glee.

I call these 8 faces: “overconfidence” , “making fun”, “fear”, “sweat”, “I’m going to die”, and “OMG I survived” and ” respect”. In order to set the scene, I must tell you the various ages of the participants so let me begin by saying that I think “age” in addition to body shape are the last acceptable forms of stereotype and discrimination in our country. Older first timers vary between three stages: fear, I’m going to die, and OMG I survived. There are some who run through each stage in even 20min cycles and rapid cycles, and some who go through each three in a four minute song, 15 times in one class. Having stared Zumba Death in the face, and lived, I feel compassion and support for my older Zumba sisters. But, millennials are different.

Being young, supple, muscular, and invincible, the arrive before class overconfident.

“Dancing for an hour??? Ppfffft, No sweat”. Pun intended. Then they look around the room, and you can see the look of judgment inch across their faces, like the look of disdain that races across a teenager when a parent says, “would you and your friends like to spend the day shopping with your father and me?”, as they realize everyone in class

Is OLD and then just as quickly, with furtive glances exchanged in milliseconds and maybe a whispered comment, they make fun of us old folks and how easily they’ll do in this class.

Minus the finger pointing of course. This is usually right before the first song and I restrain the smirk wanting to crawl across my own face. As we move through the first two songs, one of which is usually at least mid tempo, the second more of a warmup, their confidence continues but they’re recognizing that this is the most difficult game of Simon Says they’ve ever played and that they, like most people, they do not possess all the requisite talents to excel in Zumba – conditioning, stamina, rhythm, beat, fast paced mimicry and a glimmer of recognition that this is not so easy appears on their face. My favorite is about 15 – 20 minutes in when fear washes over them like a huge wave at the beach and they realize their heart is racing and air is harder to come by.

They sashay over to the side of the room to take a water break, and you can see their field of vision narrowing from the entire room, to their friend(s) they came with, now only concerned with the judgment of their peers. Having raised daughters, I may be taking more pleasure in this angst then I should.

The fifth face, which can set in anywhere from 25 – 40 minutes in (I readily concede these 20 something’s are pretty fit little buggers), which is “I’m going to die”,has a precursor face – “sweat”. Shortly after this

Comes this. When the first few measures of the last cool down song start, and they realize they have made it to the end of class,

They realize-“I survived”. There is no amusement park ride better than this sequence of faces, which has now become quite predictable. Comprehension for the young, vindication for the old. And the best part, if they come back for another week or two, is their attitude towards my Zumba sisters is

RESPECT. Here’s

To every BADASS woman I know. And I know a lot of them.

Pre-Intoxication Guidelines for Zumba Fitness

Dear Zumba Fitness International, (and fellow Zumbaranians)

Having regularly attended a 9 am, Saturday morning, Zumba Fitness class, I have, unintentionally, acted as a lab rat for the hypothesis. “Just how many hours before a Zumba class do you need to stop drinking without experiencing a long list of side effects that would rival the average prescription drug disclaimer on a TV Commercial. You know, like (insert deep baritone announcers voice here) “common side effects include: (announcer speaking a 250 words a minute now) nausea, projectile vomiting, loss of bowel and/ bladder control, hives, rash, anxiety, numbness in hands, feet and nose, sinusitis, rhinitis, OMGitis, hair and fingernail pain, sensitivity to light and noise, dehydration, flatulence, lack of coordination, walking into walls, mirrors or windows, intense perspiration of alcohol, loss of memory,  desire to lose some memories, and pleading with a divine creator for assistance with promises of not repeating the behavior”.

It occurred to me this morning, after a lengthy birthday celebration which started early and ended late at a Waffle House, that maybe you had already covered this and I should check your website.  Seeing you have not, and assuming this was an oversight, I am happy to share my research with you (my non scientific, non controlled, not stistically valid sample of ‘one’, research)    BTW, I think law enforcement should drop the BA level testing and consider the “Waffle House” (or IHOP or Denny’s) Test. As in, you are pulled over late at night on the weekend and the officer asks “have you been drinking?”   You: (I’ve had a couple”.  Him:  are you on your way to or coming from a diner for breakfast at 1 am. You: (sheepishly) yes, am on the way there now to meet some friends. Him: “you are under arrest for driving under the influence, get out of the car”. (Disclaimer:  at all times mentioned herein, Uber or Lyft was used, do not drink and drive).  Anyhow, here’s my Zumba fitness class pre intoxication guidelines.

1. It should not need to be said that you should not have a cocktail DURING CLASS.  Most instructors frown on that because….-their insurance doesn’t cover them or you and, they want to be drinking to and are not allowed and you’re just going to make your class mates envious. (If anyone DOES know of an insurance policy that covers drinking while exercising , please let me know- I’m going to that class, at least once). And then everyone is going to have mimosas and what would THAT look like?

2. Drinking ends 24 or more hours before class. Again, you would think this doesn’t need comment, but if you’re experiencing “symptoms” 24 hours after your last drink and you’re blaming alcohol, you’re in denial about just how out of shape you are and you need more exercise. And less excuses. Or therapy.

3. 24- 12 hours before class. This what I have come to term the “reasonable zone”. The probability of avoiding symptoms within this time frame involves a number of variables like whether it’s closer to 24 hours or 12, whether you’re measuring your consumption by number of drinks,  or liters, or some either percentages or multiple of liters thereof and whether the circumstances of your consumption has video which either you or your companions think is “the Hangover” , the movie, worthy.  E.g, if there is a live tiger in your house, or you are missing a tooth, Do Not Attend Zumba class, regardless of the time period between your last drink and class.  Call your attorney.

4. 12-7.5 hours before class.  I confess this is the time period with which I have most consistently experimented. I will also say that in this time frame, class attendance requires a very dark pair of shades, and at least a Grande sized, extra shot espresso.  Don’t worry, with practice, you can Zumba with a Starbucks in one hand without spilling it.  My experience is that depending on consumption and whether you’re closer to 12 hours or 7.5, this time frame will involve some of the side effects mentioned above.  Most frequent:  the conversation between you and your Divine  creator. Second most frequent?  Let’s just say I measure those classes by whether they are a “no trip, or 1,2 or three bathroom trips during class”  (and severity of side effects) experience.

5. 7.5 to minutes before class.  Again, I confess that today is the first, and last time I try the 7.5 hour zone.  You do NOT want to be leaving a Waffle House at 1:30 am in a Uber and be in Zumba class, 7.5 hours later.  Do not try this at home.

However, science is a community affair where the many build on the research of pioneers. I pass the baton to my millennial Zumba friend who by virtue of age and or fitness, like our astronauts, are prepared to boldly go,where no one has gone before”. (If however, you drink consistently from 7.5 to minutes before class, please attach video.  Thank you).

Relationship Lessons Gleaned from Lead/Follow Dances

Dancing Argentine Tango for seven years, many of my classes and workshops are on perfecting the skills of being a good leader and follower. I’ve noticed many of those lessons are good for relationships in general. While men are often leaders and women followers, anyone can lead or follow, so to be as all encompassing as possible, my references will be to leader and followers only, as opposed to gender. After all, I’m not North Carolina.

1. Both parties should stay on their own axis (balance). If you are leaning on your partner to the point they are having to hold you up, the dance will never work. Have we not all dated someone like that?

2. Leaders should not pull, push, shove, or otherwise forcibly try to get the follower to “get it”. I mention this since SC is quite high on the national list for Domestic Violence, and because reading followers posts, it seems to be epidemic. Maybe you really want to be in mixed martial arts or wrestling instead.

3. Stated differently in different languages, “the leader proposes, the follower disposes”. A lead is not a command, but an invitation, to which the follower accepts or rejects. (or maybe interprets differently then you intended in an even more lovely way) Followers, like people in bars, appreciate your picking up on this after your third invitation is rejected (or first). Know the difference between persistence and harassment.

4. If your lead doesn’t obtain the intended response, my advice is to consider this to be something you miscommunicated rather than an error on the followers part. Here’s why, there’s nothing you can do about an error on the followers part (during a social dance) , but there’s a lot you can do to make your non verbal communication skills better. In fact, one of the greatest benefit of lead follow dances is that you ACQUIRE non verbal communication skills. What married person wouldn’t like THOSE to be better? For themselves and their significant other (SO). For workshops, consider that most issues between couples are a combination of both parties. Take a “how can we make this better approach”, as opposed to a “you need to do or not do X,Y,and Z.” Even if it is one person’s issue, it’s easier to accept if determined in a cooperative format.

5. Likewise, as a follower, if you are confused by your partners lead, you can’t do anything about that in the moment. What you can do, is focus on what YOU’RE doing and go through your mental checklist: posture, balance, arm position, looking at partners chest, etc. Wouldn’t most relationships be better if we worked hardest at “fixing” ourselves, rather than taking our SO’s inventory.

6. Follow etiquette. “Etiquette is a code of polite conduct. If you practice proper etiquette, you are less likely to offend or annoy people — and you may even charm them.” https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/etiquette Rules regarding the dance moves in a counter clockwise circle, that one does not instruct during a social dance, that one doesn’t talk DURING the dance (before or after is fine) are all designed to avoid injury, and create an opportunity for everyone to have a pleasant social experience while dancing. While some neglect etiquette in relationships, one might argue that relationships need just as much etiquette as public situations. Like not talking during a dance. Who hasn’t been in relationship and far too often thought, “will they just not shut up”.

7. You will not have chemistry with everyone. This is not a surprise. You may even find that someone you had chemistry with at one time, you no longer do. Or you may find that they no longer have chemistry with you. Usually some distance is all that’s required. Stabbing, poisoning, shooting them is not recommended, nor is defaming them, trying to cause them financial ruin or slashing there tires. While intentionally hyperbole, anyone who’s been to divorce court knows exactly where I’m coming from.

8. Personal Hygiene. Who hasn’t wished this was a more popular endeavor in ALL facets of life. Whether dancing or in a relationship, applying the Golden Rule to yourself for any situation in which you will spend significant time cheek to cheek is not rocket science.

9. Your current lack of ability at “whatever” is not an excuse for not learning, participating or getting better. This is one of my favorites. When I tell people I take yoga classes, a typical response is “I can’t do that, I’m not flexible.” “Neither was I when I started, but I can now stick my head up my ass, and you’re apparently flexible enough for that”. Or, “I can’t dance, I have no rhythm”. Uhhh, that’s why you take lessons. Just say I’m not interested in that rather then suggesting a lack of knowledge is a good excuse. We could have all gotten out of public school if saying, “Wow, I can’t go, I don’t know math”. Over seven years, I’ve been told I have no rhythm, can’t move to a beat, act like I’m always at a funeral, lack musicality, have no creativity or imagination. And those comments were just from my former marriage.

Left Brain-Right Brain: The “Filter” vs “Smart Assery”

You may be familiar with various theories of the effects that the two hemispheres of our brain have on a variety of things from behavior, to psychology to biology, including the most popular that our left brain is where rational, logical processes reside and the right, creativity.  This is all, of course probably not true. If you’re remotely interested in any of this, here is a Wikipedia article with 80 citations to current professional journal articles in neurology, physchology, and other medical, scientific and Behavorial science publications.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralization_of_brain_function
 Let me save you some time, however, and suggest that our knowledge of the brain is not much more advanced than our medieval theories that the Black Plague was caused by an imbalance in the four humours (not comedy humours but blood, phlegm, black and yellow bile)

This allows me to pretty freely postulate that the left brain is where our “filter” resides, as a constant balance to the “smart Assery” right side of our brain.  By “filter”, I mean that part of our brains that stops us from offering the police office, who just stopped us, the box of donuts from the passenger seat, or when our significant other asks, “do these jeans make my ass look fat”; scrolling through the responses of “everything makes your ass look fat” or “your ass IS FAT”, or “do you mean ‘semi trailer fat’, or ‘Beyoncé booty fat’, or ‘Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue fat” and instead opt for “of course not- your ass is perfection defined”. 

I find it difficult to predict when my filter will or won’t work, or when the switch is on or off.  I first noticed this as a 17 year old in AP calculus class.  The teacher said, “and what should I do with this Parabola”, and before I knew it I said “you don’t REALLY want us to tell you what to do with that Parabola, do you”, whereupon with equal speed an eraser was whizzing by my left ear.  I immediately began to put as much value on my filter as her bad aim. As the things which then began to get thrown at my head increased in both frequency and weight, I began to think maybe my filter could be exercised to be made more effective. I’m not sure at my age if it’s better or worse.  Here’s just a few examples.

At a function this week hosted by a female friend, I met her husband for the first time. Part of the conversation went like this.  “…-and he does Argentine tango, she said”.   “Wow,” he said, what a beautiful dance.  We so enjoyed watching tango on our trip to Buenos Aires.  But you don’t seem to have the body type of a tango dancer?”.   Possible replies submitted to my filter:  “Yes, well I got a 6 week scholarship to the Sumo Wrestlers School of Argentine Tango in Kyoto in 2009”. “Yes, but I applied for and was granted a weight waiver from the International Tango Police in Buenos Aires”.  “Yes, but I’m also short and I get to dance with REALLY tall women”.

image

 Yes, but I’m not allowed to dance with women over (or under) a certain weight”. “Yes, I have to weigh in monthly and if I go over 240, I’m suspended”. “Yes, but we have weight classes in Tango, like boxing” to what actually passed my filter which was “hahahahahaha, Yes!”  (Yay filter!!!)

My filter seems particularly challenged by stupidity.  At a tango class years ago, a conversation with a medical school professor somehow turned to my struggles to lose weight despite a ridiculous amount of exercise, clean eating and food deprivation.    “It’s easy he said, don’t eat anything white”.   Uh oh, here we go with a furious assault on my filter.   “This is going to be shocking news to my black and Asian friends”.  “OMG- in 48 years of dieting, I’ve never seen or read this theory or been told this by any of the 36 physicians I’ve seen in all these years”.  While my filter is processing some other options which are not printable, he adds “you know like white rice, white bread, or white flour”.  Immediately after my filter rejects “so the outside of Oreo’s is ok, but not the middle” and “You’re a fucking idiot”, and it allows, “yes, I should work harder on this, thank you”.  

I was encouraging a fellow zumberanian this morning by remarking she looks like she lost a significant amount of weight lately and is more tone.  Anytime I see someone I know, who looks like they’ve lost weight lately, I tell them. Who doesn’t want to hear they’ve lost weight lately, even if they haven’t (Nigerian marathon runners and eating disorder patients excluded). We had the usual banter of “yes, I really want to get rid of this belly” (whereupon I put my arm around her and showed her it’s still smaller than mine), how long it takes to make progress, etc. etc. whereupon the other person in this conversation said, “your genes have a lot to do with it”.   Apparently my filter was recovering from my Friday night because I blurted out, “so, I should stop wearing wranglers and get designer jeans instead?”, all the while thinking I should warn my former beauty pageant friend to immediately burn those baby phat jeans I bought her years ago.  After all, she might ask me, “Baby, do these baby phat’s make my ass look fat?”.

Zumba Class and Codeine Cough Syrup

I was going to write that there is some controversy about working out when sick but a quick 10 minutes on the Internet demonstrates that yet again, there was only controversy between my ears. So let me say the clear consensus seems to be that if your minor symptoms are from the neck up, it’s ok to work out. If your symptoms are from the neck down, stay home. This was not my recollection of the rule.

I did however have a previously scheduled unrelated routine doctors appointment two days ago. This is the same family doctor I’ve had for 35 ish years. (Who’s counting). Having a doctor patient relationship that long is a little like being married. He knows I only think medicine should be taken recreationally. I know he’s very conservative. I know when he ignores me, tunes me out, whatever I’m talking about isn’t important. When I mentioned in passing my sore throat just on one side (I know- how bizarre is that?) and my cough, he ignored me and tuned me out.

The cough and chest congestion (or lung clearing from not smoking- whatever) got annoying enough over the last couple of days to turn to the codeine cough syrup (which qualifies as a both a medicinal and a recreational drug). I took the day off to rest, but then though it would be a good idea if I went to Zumba Class to detox whatever this was and move around. I did not give any thought to the codeine. There are some differences to taking Zumba “sober” and taking Zumba with several good doses of codeine cough syrup:

1. Julio Iglesias sounds like Jerry Garcia. After he died.
2. The hour FLIES by. Einstein was right. (And high I think)
3. While it was harder to manage my breathing, it was in a more of a passing out, lose conciousness kind of way. Rather than take breaks to catch my breath, it was take breaths to keep from passing out. Very college freshman like
4. Zumba potentiates the buzz. This is “pharmacy speak” for the exercise makes you twice as high as you were when you started. AWESOME!!!
5. Everybody is soooo friendly when you’re on codeine.
6. Zumba is very relaxing. Weeeeeeeeeeee.
7. I could not coordinate my hand or feet movements
8. I could not keep up with the instructor of the rest of the class
9. I could not follow along with the music.

O wait. I can’t coordinate my hand or feet movements, keep up with the instructor or the rest of the class, or follow along with the music when I’m NOT on codeine cough syrup.

Now that I know what the rule REALLY is, I’m thinking I’m skipping yoga class tomorrow. Although down dog and codeine has potential………just kidding.

Work Out Clothes

Eros-Sport-Collection-Page-6-up_1024x1024There is no version of this universe and no alternate universe, no matter how much weight I lose, or how “svelte” I get that I’m wearing any version of those clothes to yoga class. Or any other workout class. Or zumba class. Or a gym. I just don’t get workout clothes.

I’ve toyed with this subject, albeit briefly, once before, a litle over a year ago. My fellow Zumberanians have a penchant for belly scarfs. https://humorforthehorizontallychallenged.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/zumba-class-an…he-belly-scarf/ They want me to get one. I’ve been debating for a year between the camouflage, image< and the Pirate Skull:
image<

I’ve been taking votes most of the last year. The pirate skull won out. I actually modeled some for the Zumberanians. They brought a purple number for me to try on.
zumba purple belly skirt<

While purple may be my color, pirate is definitely the way for me to go here.

But workout clothes just puzzle me in general. About a month ago, in workout class, a woman had the words “WHINING” in all white caps emblazoned on her ass, with a circle around the “HINI” with a line through it. I found myself thrust back in Philosophy class for the rest of the next hour. Is that “NO Whining?” or “no Hini?”, I asked myself” and if the former, was that for her kids, and if the latter was that for her husband, and what did that have to do with working out? If the “whining” had to do with working out, who was the admonition for? I mean, if it was meant to remind HER not to whine, shouldn’t it be somewhere where SHE could see it, like on the FRONT of her shorts, so when she bent over, she, or bent down, she’d remember, “no whining?” If it was meant for all of us behind her, I was wondering when all the whiny people in a workout class had gotten on her class. Maybe I should hyperventilate a little quieter. Maybe I should gasp for air with a little less enthusiasm.

And why didn’t the circle go around the ENTIRE word. The shorts were big enough. Why just for the “hini” part? And they seemed to very male gym shorts at that but I didn’t even want to go there. After class, I asked the girl next to me what they were all about and she simple said, ” Motivation, no whining”, so I guess I was making too much out of the whole thing. Or she missed the whole, “no hini” part.

At this point, I went looking for something on the internet about the recent Lulemon see through yoga pants fashion disaster to illustrate some point in my brain when I found this: http://www.fadedindustry.com/hot-girls-wearing-yoga-pants-happy-hump-day/

By the time I got to the end of the pictures, I had no idea what my post was. In fact, I have no idea what my objection to work out clothing is. Hmmm, maybe purple is my color. In the meantime, I’ll just wait for the pirate scarf. And keep wearing baggy clothes.

Zumba Causes Narcolepsy

For the first time, I made it to 3.75 Zumba classes this week. Here’s what happened. Fourteen months ago, I started going once a week. Loyal readers, both of you, know that after 10 minutes, I was gasping for air and praying for death. As the months wore on, and the pounds fell off, I started going twice a week. A couple of months ago, I dabbled a couple of times with going THREE times a week. In order to fit this on my schedule, this necessitated going to class two days in a row. How can I prosaically describe the effect this had on me? What words will convey the true effect this had on my body, mind, and soul? I know, it KICKED MY ASS.

As April and May approached, I saw my six month July doctors check up looming on the calendar which coincided with my celebrating losing 30 ponds since last July. At the same time, this rate of loss is nowhere near my type A, overachiever, obsessive compulsive addictive personality that wants to be losing 2 pounds a week is satisfied with, so I’ve been constantly been tweaking what I’ve been eating and my Zumba/Yoga/tango regimen trying to get the weekly weight loss up to what I consider a respectable level.

So, this was the week I decided I’d try FOUR Zumba classes and two yoga classes. Here’s how the week went starting with last Saturday.

Saturday June 7: Go to zumba class 9 am as usual. Come home, shower, head to Lowes, buy potting soil, drainage rock, two pavers. Set pavers, level for new outdoor table purchased by GF, plant new deck plants (also purchased by GF), and paint one of two outdoor corner shelves built by GF. Shower, put on costume, attend tango Milonga. 17,000 steps for the day.

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Sunday June 8: go to yoga class: already beyond exhausted. Fall asleep in savasana, or deep relaxation at end of class. I think I snored.

Monday June 9: Go to Zumba class: this is the class I don’t normally attend. I am fired up. Gonna make three in a row this week. Woooo Hoooo.

Tuesday June 10: Can’t get up for work. Go to office. Fall asleep at desk at 2:30. Give up. Take entire day off. Go home. Go to Zumba class at 5:45. This building where she has class doubles as children’s something or other and, I think, large oven for baked goods the size of SUV’s. Or it must, judging from the usual temperature in there.

Wednesday June 11: What day is it? I want to take today off too. Am exhausted. Make it to office. Am really excited about making it to THREE Zumba classes in a row. leave work early at 4 pm. Get home change clothes. Can’t. Keep. Eyes. Open. It’s 5:45. I have 30 minutes before I have to leave for class at 6:15 which starts at 6:45. Ok, I can take a power nap. Set alarm on I phone for 22 min. Close eyes. Pass out. Alarm goes off. 6:07. Great, I can sit here for 5 minutes. Next thing I know, I wake up and it’s 7:45. YUP, ZUMBA CAUSES NARCOLEPSY!!!! (Or maybe I need a little more rest, or a little more time to get used to this schedule- whew,). I dash out the door, race to class and get there 15 minutes late….so, I made it to 2.75 classes this week.

Thursday June 12: regular yoga class. Maria, the teacher, has left for her summer vacation. Who do we get for our sub? The yoga instructor who is also the marathon runner. You can’t make this stuff up. Insert your own punch line here. I pray for a quick death during savasana.

Friday June 13: No exercise today, but I do have to drive four hours round trip to teach the last two hours of a certification class. Have also noticed my weight has fluctuated three pounds this week even though my diet has not changed at all. I assume this is analogous to how terminal patients, as they approach death, will refuse food and water. I’m guessing by the end of the week, my body, from the Zumba overdose, has started hoarding water for the coming apocalypse. I get back to charleston at 7 pm and meet a friend for dinner.

Saturday June 14: I make it to Zumba class no 3.75 this week. I don’t know my name, I swear, just by looking I have 6 fingers on my right hand, I can’t get enough sleep but I woke up at 5:30 am and could not get back to sleep. Class was great. I did notice by one of the last songs, I was having trouble distinguishing between my right and left foot.

You know what I keep thinking, don’t you? She DOES teach a class EVERY DAY at the senior center at 8 am. Lemme google narcolepsy drugs…….

Men: How to know when your Dancing is Not up to Par and Needs Therapy

I arrived at my private Argentine Tango Lesson on Friday and said, “I need Tango therapy”. “What’s wrong?”, she asked. “I seem to dance fine at classes, but then I go to milongas [social dances] and my dancing just falls apart.” I’m not sure if it’s performance impotence or premature ambulation”. She laughed, then looked at me with that look that was a cross between regret that the ACLU provided the State an excuse to close all the mental health hospitals in the state and the look that says “I want to beat you with a tire iron”, which reminds me wistfully of my mother, who died in 1988, but all she said was “I’m not going there”. Then she said, “What do you think it is?”, to which I replied, “I don’t know, that’s why I’m here”. I love when you go to a doctor or other professional and they ask, “what do you think it is?” uhhh, if I had figured it out, would I be here? Anyway, she asked me how I knew my dancing was falling apart, then of course, she pretty immediately figured it out, and fixed it, which is why she is the goddess of tango and Zumba and all things dancing.

However, the rest of the day, I did reflect on her question, “how did you know your dancing was falling apart?” question, and it occurred to me that if SHE didn’t know how I knew, then maybe other guys needed some help figuring out when THEIR dancing needed some help. So, while I’m not expert, here’s just a partial list of clues you might focus on that’s suggestion your dancing at social dances needs some work. While this is taken from Argentine Tango, I’m pretty sure this applies to the Shag, Ballroom Dancing, Contra Dancing, maybe even free style, rock and roll dancing, as when it comes to dancing, I think women are pretty universal in this regard.

1. When most of the women you dance with, look at you at the end of the dance, like your neighbor does, when someone’s dog craps on her yard, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

2. When she gets back to the table, and takes out a voo doo doll that remarkably looks like you and starts sticking knitting needles through the groin area, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

3. When you’re dancing with someone you’ve danced with many times before, and both of you know things aren’t going well, and she blames the floor, the lighting, the humidity, and the recent outbreak of solar flares, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

4. When you go to a table where a lady you have previous asked to dance is sitting to ask someone else to dance, and the entire rest of the table gets overactive bladder and leaps to the bathroom likes the starting gun for the Boston Marathon has just gone off, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

5. At the end of the tanda, she looks at you and says “thank you”, but has that same expression on her face you saw those few days when Nelson Mandela died, this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

6. At the end of the dance, when she has that look in her eyes, like your loved one does, as if you just gave her a vacuum cleaner for Valentines day, instead of the lingerie, diamond necklace, and massage she was hoping for, then this is a sign your dancing is falling apart.

Hope it helps.

Fitness Personal Accountability or “Take That you Fitbit(ch)!!

Several things lately have me pondering personal accountability in the fitness arena. I previously wrote that my paralegal gave me a fitbit for Christmas so I’ve been using that for three months. More on that in a moment. My one year Zumba anniversary is coming up April 24th, so anniversaries are always, at least for me a time for reflection. And my brave daughter just had gastric bypass surgery, and has been bravely and courageously posting about her progress, the first three weeks out of surgery, which I thought was particularly brave. As I’ve told her since she was middle school age, “thanks for being my reminder evolution works – you’re better than me”.

Personal fitness accountability appears to be all the rage these days; check any diet program and they all advise a food journal of some kind. There are no shortage of apps now on the market to do that. As for fitness, it’s all about track, measure, goal set, weigh, track, measure. It’s enough to send a Type A with OCD into a delirium of delight from which there is no recovery.

However, in an effort to be a little more participatory myself, here’s something of a Zumba “before and after” photo. Technically, the before picture is from August, not last April. The after picture is from today.

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While I have lost the grand total of 22 pounds since last April, (yes, I know, that is an embarrassing 2 pound per month) I know some of you are looking at these two pictures saying, “I can’t tell a difference”. Don’t worry, I anticipated that and am not, in any way taking it personally. So, let me point out to you the obvious differences. Lets start with my upper body. If you will focus on my belly, you will notice that in the before picture, I have on a BLUE shirt and in the after picture I have on a YELLOW shirt. I think the yellow probably goes better with the dark shorts then the blue. Doing Zumba with 30 women twice a week certainly heightens your fashion sense in workout clothing and I think these before and after photos demonstrate that.

Secondly, in the before picture I have sunglasses on and in the after picture I have no sunglasses which demonstrates that after 11 months, I can actually stand daylight at 9 am on a Saturday morning without sunglasses.

Third, the before picture was taken BEFORE class, so all that sweat is just how much I perspired getting to and thinking about class. At least the after picture was taken AFTER class.

Lastly, in the before picture you can see that I am so fat, my feet ended immediately at the end of my shorts and I had no discernible calf’s or ankles. Hell, in that picture you can’t even make out my feet. IN the after picture you can clearly tell I have legs, which is a marked improvement. I also have no beard in the second picture.

I know some people take these before and after picture to demonstrate that they are actually “smaller” from their diet, lifestyle change, working out, but I’m trying to not be so narrow-minded in my approach to this fitness regimen less I look at the last 11 months as a failure.

Speaking of self-discipline, as I’m running into my self-imposed “number of word limitation”, I’ll have to save my “take that you fit(ch) rant for another post.

But hey, I’m not discouraged. Twice a week, I’m the only guy who gets to dance/work out with 30-40 hot, smart, crazy, motivated, fun, inspiring, terrific women. How cool is that?