Yes I CAN CAN CAN! (guest post)

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.

 

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Comments

  1. Chandra says

    I was about to go shopping this morning.
    So glad I came and found this.
    Thanks for the new blog to read, Miz!
    GREAT POST.

  2. says

    It sounds like it was a success! I wonder what I would do if I plunged forward before sanity or apathy stepped in to stop me?

    • says

      Bonnie… as Coco mentioned, I signed up and turned up before I thought too much about it.

      I was a bit shocked when I saw the other participants – so was glad I didn’t have time to back out then. But… once we started it was fine.

      Deb

    • says

      Angela, it was great fun.

      It was a challenge though to NOT think about it as exercise. If I had I would have been concerned about how few calories I was burning; that my fitness wasn’t increasing or being challenged etc… It was difficult to do, but I tried to see it as purely something ‘different’ and ‘fun’.

      Plus I learnt a new skill. (I can’t imagine why I haven’t added it to my resume?!).

      Deb

    • says

      I left it out Nina, but I think the dance school’s description also mentioned the Pussycat Dolls who – I must confess – were a favourite of mine when it came to music to dance to!

      Deb

  3. says

    Great post, Debbish! I think a lot of people who struggle with overeating are very disconnected from their bodies. I know that I use food to detach from mine. It was important for me to choose an activity (like you did) that allowed me to feel more present in my body. For me that is yoga. Prayer in motion!

    Om Shanti! Blessings!

  4. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this experience Deborah! Last spring I participated in my first Burlesque class and felt that same disconnect with my ‘sensual self’. It did help that there was wine involved, though…

  5. says

    All of us, even if we have lost the weight and are maintaining the loss, and/or are fit and still working out, are only partway through our fitness journeys because we aren’t dead yet!;)

    So keep going, it’s all about keeping on.

  6. says

    That sounds like a lot of fun! I’ve never heard of these classes before! I’d totally be up for trying this out…I think it would be even more fun with some friends too!

    Great post!

    • says

      Oh yes, it would have been better with friends Kierston – you could have had more of a giggle. (Plus when you were practising at home… not that I would have ever done that… no siree!… you would have someone to call and ask for a reminder of what step comes next!!!)

      Deb

  7. says

    I love this! As a person that is fit right now, I would not even have the courage to do this class so I think you are much braver than you think & me for sure! I still struggle with body image even being fit so at all levels, it comes down to being good with ourselves inside which is the hardest part no matter our size. Keep doing what feels right for you! :)

    • says

      Oh thanks Jody! I love dancing – am currently a big Zumba fan and have written endlessly in my blog about my faux Zumba class and an instructor who filled all of her attendees with confidence.

      I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t continue to push myself to try running because I hated and dreaded it (and exercise as a result). Dance classes don’t feel like exercise to me! (Of course the Burlesque was a tad different…)

      Deb

  8. says

    You would be the perfect holiday shopping pal. We go put a bunch of things in our cart, then when we get the long line, you bust out your newly mastered moves and I get to go to the front of the line while everyone is distracted. WIN!

    • says

      Oh… so true. Did you ever see Legally Blonde, when the character showed the women in the hair salon the ‘pop and snap’ move – aimed at getting a man’s attention I think!

      We had a fill-in instructor one week (was better than the usual one!!!) and she did a different routine which included the ‘pop and snap’.

      I haven’t quite been brave enough to try it in public!!!

      Deb

  9. says

    What?!! You didn’t do the concert??? I’m sure you must have been devastated. I was so hoping there would be video at the end of the post. I’m sure it would have been a lot like when I tried to learn to tap dance. I was AWESOME (thank God there were no mirrors)

    • says

      Sadly there were mirrors but I always tried to get behind the instructor so I couldn’t see myself.

      And as for the concert… I zoned out when the others started talking corsets and the like. It was NEVER gonna happen!

      Deb

  10. says

    Hahaha this post made me laugh so hard. I can totally picture it. I had a similar experience with a pole dancing class. My teachers name was “Kitty Cat”… Hopefully not real!!

    • says

      Oh…. pole dancing Jess… I’d love to try it but sadly doubt I could lift my (hefty) body weight. I’ve seen some professionals on TV and they could basically hold their bodies horizontally – AMAZING!

      Deb

  11. says

    This is a great story, Deb!

    I was reminded of how I participated in a showdance-like class years ago when I still worked at the university. It was fun even though the class was too difficult to me.

    I should really like to get dance back in my life.

    • says

      Oh yes Satu… I rarely listen to music at home but when I exercise I LOVE listening to top 20 stuff. At the moment I’ve been walking out on a pier near where I’m living and when Nicki Minaj/ Flo Rida (etc) come on I find I’m really strutting along the old timber planks.

      Not sure if I’m mentioned it in a blog post, but I used to love the moment I arrived home from an early morning walk and still had my headphones on. I’d feel chuffed that I’d exercised and would dance about my kitchen as I was preparing breakfast. LOVED that feeling! Ahhh….

      Deb

    • says

      It was a couple of years ago Karen. Before I lost a bit of weight and I was really only doing pilates and no other cardio activity.

      Deb

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