Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Undiscovered Country

Oh humility is endless and my preconceptions often blind me, but I never thought I'd end up here.

When Jazzercise first started, I thought it was strange, artificial, and peopled by former cheerleaders. I didn't like the music, the workouts seemed poorly designed, and the moves were funky. The regulars wore funny clothes. They used bunny weights. They hung out in multi-purpose rooms and public halls and church basements. They left their children in the care of strangers for an hour so they could get buff.

I took my exercise outdoors, often with a pack on my back. I took my exercise in a real gym, with weights and machines and macho muscular guys bragging about how much they could bench press.

I started water aerobics several years ago at the prompting of my next-door neighbor. She said it had been wonderfully rehabilitating for her hip. At the time, I was in near-constant pain from my own hip and back, and willing to try anything that might help.

Water aerobics did help the hip and back (although not as much as discovering my food allergies and changing my diet), so I kept it up. I also continued my weight-lifting. Due to my disability, hiking had become a rare treat, one that I paid for with several days of immobility.

Once I cleared my diet of allergens, my body began to heal. Within a few months, I could walk without pain, and even run for short distances. I bought myself a set of exercise videos, and started adding land-based aerobic workouts to my exercise mix. I also lost a lot of weight, and now feel better than I have in many years.

A friend from water aerobics has been encouraging me to try Jazzercise for a while now. She's a regular, and she says it's the best part of her day. One day, I agreed to try it.

I walked in the door, and it was everything I had imagined. The instructors were friendly, peppy, and definitely cheerleadery. The music, frequently country, insulted my intelligence and my esthetic sense. The funky routines made me feel silly and uncoordinated and switched fast enough to make me cautious about injury. The weight and abdominal parts of the routine did not meet my exacting standards.

I loved it. My waist and hips flowed free with the routines, and I left the class feeling sexy, even predatory.

Nor was I the only one. Jazzercise attracts 50-70 women every morning of the week (and two week nights), a pretty good feat in a one-horse town that rolls up its sidewalks at 10pm on summer weekends. The class attracts women of all shapes, sizes, and ages. In the light of the silly country music and funky moves, all of these women are beautiful, sexy, desirable.

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