Jen Emmert

Jen Emmert writes at PriorFatGirl, candidly documenting her journey of losing 100 pounds through all of life's dramatic moments including new jobs, the death of her mom, wedding planning and, most recently, tornadoes. Jen's story has been seen in SHAPE Magazine, AOL.com, Woman's Day Magazine and many local news outlets. Follow her journey as she continues to fight for healthiness in an unhealthy world.

Really. Jazzercise.

Posted by: Jen Emmert under Health Updated: February 13, 2012 - 11:02 AM

I woke up on Saturday morning and stepped outside - the arctic air took my breath away. As I walked toward my car, I sensed frozen existence around me. The lack of snow exposed brown shades of hibernation everywhere; the frigid air around me froze everything.

It was 8:00am and I was fighting my own stereotypes. I kind of didn't want to go. I'd much prefer to have been meeting a friend for breakfast or even still wrapped up on my couch in a warm blanket and a huge mug of coffee. Similar to last week's experiment with cross-country skiing, I was going for the sake of writing. Leave it to writing to challenge me to do things I normally wouldn't.

Jazzercise.

Stop giggling. Apparently this is serious stuff. One look at the Jazzercise website and you'll realize it is not the 1980's feathered hair, leg warmers and leotards once associated it with.

The website describes itself as...

"choreographed to today's hottest music, each 60-minute Jazzercise group fitness class offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing and Latin style movements."

My hesitancy stemmed from the lack of rhythm and grace I was born with - anything choreographed scares the bonkers out of me. What's more, the thought of purposefully going to a class with a group of people who probably wanted to be there? Terrifying.

My friend, Amanda, raved about it. She is a youngin' so I trusted her. I knew she wouldn't steer me wrong in the fun department. There are over 20 Jazzercise locations here in the Twin Cities, ranging from locations at local community centers to Junior Highs. You can buy monthly passes or pay a nominal drop in fee, both of which vary slightly depending on the location. Average monthly prices seem to $35 a month or around $10 for a drop in fee {see specific location for exact amount.}

I arrived 20 minutes early. The "regulars" showed up 5 minutes before we started (showoffs.) Two minutes before class started, I looked around and realized the gymnasium was packed full of 39 women & 1 man, ranging in ages from 26 years old to... grandma age.

The music started and the instructor, Sandy cheered out our first set of instructions.

"March, right, left, right, left. Swing those arms!"

The room filled up with sounds of our synced stepping - it was like ants marching toward picnic leftovers, on beat with the overhead playing of Pop 40 music.

Sandy had more energy than a 4 year old on Christmas morning. I wanted to run around the room looking for her secret stash of coffee but the truth was,  we had all somehow formed into rows and I wasn't going to be the crazy one who broke out of line. We were in rows with enough space between each other just in case someone wasn't wearing deodorant. Thankfully, I had remembered to put some on.

I swayed back and forth, bouncing up and down every once in awhile, just in case anyone was looking at me. My arms swung all around me as I tried to mimic what Sandy was doing. My eye-hand coordination seemed to be slightly less than average as I stepped over myself.

"TRIPLE RIGHT! LEFT FOOT UP, LEAN BACK, RIGHT FOOT UP!"

"TRIPLE LEFT! LEFT FOOT! LEFT FOOT!"

I was a mess. I kept smiling thinking my smile would somehow distract people from laughing but in reality, my face hurt from smiling so hard and I was losing my breath.

And then, thank the heaven and all its stars, Sandy told us to repeat. Repeat? I did a little better the second time but still smiled really hard attempting to convince everyone around me I was having fun when the truth was, my mind hurt from trying to concentrate.

The third time we did the moves, I began to catch on. The chorus and the verse each had their own dance move so by the time we got to the end of the song, I actually got it! I GOT IT!

And then a new song came on.

Oh dear Lord, save me. I fumbled through the second song, only learning the moves as the song was ending. Song 3 was the same thing. My face hurt as much as my feet did from stepping on myself.

It was like I was in a real-life Olivia Newton-John "Let's Get Physical" workout video!  Randomly, my concentration would be broken when someone would yell out "Wahoo!" or "yaoowww!"

 

 

40 minutes had passed and I was still alive. I was proud that they hadn't kicked me out yet. Lady Gaga came on and a few women "yahoo'd" from the back. Sandy got us into our groove for the first verse and all was well. Until the chorus. Sandy shouted out with glee...

"Sashay to the back corner! Now to the front. Half way to the back, turn and sashay to the other side!"

I was lost. I remember turning in a circle and getting slightly dizzy. Shoot, I was facing the wrong direction. I flipped around but everyone had turned and I was again facing the wrong direction. I wanted to cry. I spun around trying to figure out where to go and then I saw it.

I wasn't the only one.

Two older ladies were circling around like someone told them to keep turning right. Finally, they stopped and looked at each other, laughed, grabbed each others hands and just started dancing to their own beat. They didn't need choreographed dance to have fun and move, they had each other. I considered joining them but the verse started and, like a well oiled machine, we all synced up into a familiar flow.

I felt safe again. I knew my steps and performed. In fact, I stomped it out. I even added a little hop or two in there. I was just starting to feel confident again when the chorus came back up. Ah, that darn sashay crap! The two older ladies didn't even try this time - they just grabbed each others hands and swung around with each other like they had their own dance. I craved being a part of their party but couldn't move. I wiggled my butt a little more, to attempt to blend in with all the movement around me while inside I prayed the song to finish. I prayed that I would be transported to a place where I could just sway again.

We finished up the class on mats and light weights we each brought from home. By the end of the 60 minutes, I had managed to make a complete fool out of myself and get totally schooled by the older women in class who had more moves than U-haul.

As I leaned up against the wall after class, catching my breath and trying not to tip over from the spinning of the room, an adorable woman came up to me and threw her shoulder up in glee toward me. "Way to go, today! You totally caught on to that really hard move faster than most of us did!" I think she was just being nice but a compliment is a compliment and I wasn't turning anything down. I giggled and thanked her, dropping my eyes before she took it back.

I sat in my car for a few minutes after class, waiting for my car to warm up and Alicia Keys "Say you'll love me" came on the radio. I'll never be able to listen to that song again without hearing Sandy tell me I should squat lower.

My friend (Amanda) our instructor (Sandy) and myself.

 

 

I highly encourage you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and try a Jazzercise class. All joking aside, everyone was so extremely nice to me in class. I'm pretty sure everyone was concentrating so hard on their own dance moves, they aren't looking around at everyone else. Jazzercise is a great way to warm up, dance your worries away and pretend you are in one of those videos on the music channel.

For more Jazzercise information including locations, schedules and pricing, click HERE to visit their website.

 

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