Monday, February 14, 2011

Dance Like Nobody's Watching

There I was, in the middle of my first Zumba class, surrounded mostly by strangers as I tripped over my own feet, trying to figure out what "one-two-double-double" meant. I watched the woman next to me, trying to figure it out since I couldn't see the instructor for the 6'3", middle-aged African-American man between me and her. He had some nice moves, but I don't trust men in exercise classes to follow along correctly. I don't know why, but I don't. Sue me.

Soon, I was too distracted by what a good dancer the woman beside me was to follow her footwork. She was too fast. And her booty shakin'... Well, let's just say there's a stripper-pole somewhere out there waiting for her talents. She was so good, that after just one song our instructor singled her out and asked her to come up to the front.  I never would have suspected it. I know her. She's just another member of the PTA at my son's school. A mom, just like me.

I gave up on her and started looking around. Eventually I maneuvered myself into a position so that I could actually see the instructor. She was good. Clearly, a professional dancer with all the grace and mad-dancing  skills of a Solid Gold dancer, but in workout instructor form. I tried to follow her, counting in my head, "one-two-three-four," and things were going pretty well and then she switched moves, just when I was getting the hang of it, and... Boom! There goes the dynamite. There I go crashing into the very tall lady next to me, moving right as she came left. 


We both laughed and I resisted the strong urge to beat myself up for being an uncoordinated dolt. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and just let my body feel the rhythm of the music for a moment. I looked up, found the instructor, and dove back in, doing my best to follow along and moving continuously, even if I didn't know how to move my feet exactly like hers. I just let the music get inside my body and let myself have fun with no worries of how stupid I looked or that I wasn't as good of a dancer as the other men and women in the class. I cha-cha-cha'd to fast-moving Latin grooves and shook my money-maker to T-Pain and the Black Eyed Peas. And it felt good. 

At the end of the class I felt good. I felt like I had a great workout. And I felt happy in a way I never could have 20 years ago when I would have left the class, tears of embarrassment burning behind my eyes, the first time I took a misstep. I would have been too wrapped up in what everyone else was thinking of me to let myself go and enjoy myself.

This was really a revelation to me and it got me thinking... I'd love to hear your thoughts:

Are there things you want to do but don't because you worry about how it will make you look or what others will think?

Have your inhibitions or self-restrictions lessened or increased with age?

If you loved yourself enough to do anything you wanted without regard to what others might think, what would you do?


Marie said...

Are you sure this post wasn't about me? That's about how my adventures in exercise class go. :-)

So, in answer to your questions--there aren't really any things I don't do because of what people will think--well, maybe the ER doctor. . .

I think I am less concerned with other people's opinions of me as I get older. I am who I am. Take it or leave it.

I think I'm pretty much doing what I want to do--just need to get disciplined enough to finish writing a book.

Thanks for some good, thoughtful moments here.

Just a return visit from 31DBBB.

Kel said...

I love zumba - uncoordinated I am, but I agree there is just something about age that brings the 'wisdom' to just let it go and just enjoy it. I'm not saying I've mastered the art of not caring at all or wondering what the poor stranger I keep bumping into is thinking, but I definitely don't let it stop me once I've gotten started. I'm glad you had fun!!

SuzRocks said...

Ohhh...I totally know how you feel. I am so uncoordinated that I can't even keep up with a YOGA instructor, much less Zumba. I always try to be in the back of any exercise class I go to, just so no one can laugh at me.