Fri, Nov 23, 2012
I was seriously excited when MizFit asked if I was interested in guest posting – even more so when she offered complete carte blanche in relation to the topic.
I was also, however, a tad nervous as I know Miz’s audience includes a lot of readers who are already fit and healthy and wondered what a chubby Aussie only halfway through her health and fitness (and weight loss) journey could have to offer.
After much rumination (well… I thought about it for a day or two) I decided to share an experience I had a few years ago when I enrolled in a dance class with a difference.
My main motivation at the time was to add some excitement to my week which (was then) mostly about work. A weeknight dance class seemed the perfect option: it would break-up my working week and be more about fun and frivolity than ‘exercise’.
As someone who doesn’t much like their body, I decided I should also do something to help me feel more sensual and ‘in tune’ with my body. I recalled doing a belly dancing class years before and the buxom instructor did make us all feel like sexually attractive and desirable women (I must admit though, that this was at a health retreat and we were alcohol, sugar, caffeine deprived!).
I did however, want something a bit more energetic / high impact than bellydancing and when I described what I wanted “something kinda like lap dancing, but without the laps,” a friend suggested that burlesque was the way to go.
The dance school’s website described burlesque as “Showgirl fused with some Moulin Rouge sassy!” My mind started to boggle as I imagined it: fishnets and garters, can-canning across the stage, or perhaps Nicole Kidman Moulin Rouge style – a sequined me on a swing, floating above the masses.
Despite all of this, I sent off my money and enrolled in the 10-week course before sanity or apathy could prevail.
I arrived late and stressed to the first lesson, having left work late and gotten lost en-route, only to be confronted by a swarm of 20yr-old skinny, bizarrely dressed women.
I was clad for exercise – leggings and big Nike t-shirt (and with sturdy sports bra for the high impact exercise ahead) so I stood out amongst the leopard print skimpy tops, tulle skirts and ‘shorts-over-ripped-stockings’ look.
And, as I was also only one or two present unadorned with tattoos, I felt bare. I was already regretting my decision. Amidst this group of sex-kittens (a-la Dita Von Teese), I felt positively frumpy and middle-aged. Of the 15 others, there was one other ‘older’ woman. Needless to say, we were a strange group and I often wondered what others visiting the dance studio, thought of us when they saw us en-masse.
Our instructor, Rose* (a burlesque dancer herself and I suspect, not her real name…), had a seam tattooed down the back of her legs and a long black ponytail falling from high on her head, perfect for flicking about when the need dictated.
Rose started the first lesson with the good news – that we would be learning a routine to (…wait for it), perform at the end of term concert. (‘Be still my beating heart’, I thought and decided that I will be ‘sick’ or indisposed in some way.)
Nevertheless, we eventually kicked off. The first lesson set the scene for those following. We began and finished with lengthy stretching sessions – though less for preventing injury and more for… well I am actually not sure, but increasing flexibility I guess.
Many of the stretches were the kind that went out of fashion in the 80s, or maybe even the 70s – lots of helicopter arms swiveling to touch our toes. We were also required to do the splits, or as close to them as possible. I should have been sensible like the older woman, who did her own alternative stretches rather than Rose’s as I often found myself aching in the days following our class, from overstretching as much as anything. (It may, however, interest my myriad of dedicated fans – ahem, I mean, readers – to know that I can actually do the splits front-ways but not sideways… just for future reference!)
We did however, manage to fit in about 15-20mins of our routine each week. At this point I should point out that Rose was actually more of a performer than a teacher. We students and burlesque-novices regularly found ourselves looking at each other in confusion over which foot to start stepping on, as the guileless Rose changed her mind each time.
Nonetheless, she was brimming with enthusiasm and poise (if not coordination) as she put us through our ‘burlesque paces’.
The movements of burlesque are fairly simple. Lots of hip flicks and circles, shimmies and body rolls, with a few supposedly-sexy walks thrown in. (On that note and for future reference again – unlike one’s normal walk, a ‘stripper’ or ‘burlesque’ walk involves planting the toe first and crossing the legs as you walk.)
In no way however, was my sports bra tested throughout the 10 weeks. Our energy was focused on swivels and shakes, not jumping around energetically. Even our can-can involved low, slow (supposedly sensual) kicks.
Any self-consciousness I felt disappeared as we disparate souls giggled and strutted our way through the routine we learnt over the 10-week course.
Only 7 or 8 regulars attended most of the lessons and I would often find myself looking around, wondering what each was expecting to get out of the class.
The term eventually finished (I – sadly – was unable to perform in the concert) and we ‘graduates’ were able move to level 2. I, however, decided to give it a miss and try something different.
Unfortunately I didn’t come away from the course feeling more sensual, but you’ll be relieved to know I can bust out the burlesque moves if ever the opportunity arrives.
* Name changed to protect the innocent
Deborah describes herself as an aspiring health and fitness blogger (and mostly-unsuccessful weight loss blogger) from Queensland Australia and blogs at Diet Schmiet. She’s a fave of mine for myriad reasons and some day I plan to hunt her down & make her teach me to dance sexy.