As most people know, at home in Australia I go to the gym a lot – perhaps four times a week. I lift weights, do some classes, some PT. I also run at least once a week – more if there’s a run we’re training for. But since leaving Australia I’ve done nothing. Sure, I’ve walked a bit, and I made an attempt at going to one of the hotel gyms. But in truth I’ve spent the better part of five weeks eating, drinking and sitting on my arse people watching.
Which is why when Ruth suggested I join her for Saturday morning fitness class I thought that would be a mighty fine idea.
What Ruth failed to mention was that this was a dance fitness class, where each song is a ‘routine’ – ballroom, Latin, jazz, swing and more.
I met the instructor Vicki when we walked in. She seemed extremely happy, perhaps because she knew she was about to be considerably entertained.
“Good luck,” she said to me, “just have some fun, and perhaps don’t use your arms so much. It’s easier to just concentrate on the steps without getting the arms involved.”
Now people who know me know that I hate being the beginner; I like to be an expert immediately. So despite Vicki’s warning, I would be using both my arms and my legs thank-you, and I would be all over this FitSteps dancing caper by the end of the warm up.
This was partially true; the warm-up was slow and steady and I managed to keep up and on top of arms and legs. Sorted.
And then we began.
“They’ll be doing this one on Strictly tonight,” said Happy Vicki, breaking into some sort of a waltz samba grapevine movement that quite frankly should have been left back in the 80s where it belongs. And all around me women and men also broke into the waltz samba grapevine movement, dancing around and over and on top of me as I step-touched in mild panic. Once I pulled myself together it was all good – except that my legs were half a beat behind and heading the wrong way, my grapevine was more wine than vine and my arms were circling my head more sprinkler than swan.
Next to me Ruth was dancing away gracefully, in time and on step, not a care in the world other than making sure she steered clear of the dangerous Australian.
“And step turn cha-cha-cha, rumba to the rhythm jump. Left foot turn cha-cha-cha keep it up you’re doing great.”
This was a lie. I was not doing great. And I’m not used to not doing great, so I would try harder and damn it I would be a FitSteps expert and amaze everybody with how quickly I picked it up.
“To the left,” Vicki called as she sashayed across the stage, and I sashayed to the right and crashed into a woman in a purple leotard.
“And turn, and turn, and arms and turn,” she called, and I found myself facing the back of the room arms up and everybody else facing the front, arms down.
“Box step!” she yelled at one point.
“Got this already,” I thought, only to find myself running into the woman in purple again. Apparently a rumba box step is completely different to a waltz box step.
The only one where I managed to barely hang on was the jazz number, because there were jazz hands. And if you can master jazz hands it doesn’t matter where your feet go.
“This next one’s a country number, let’s have some fun with it,” she said as the class neared the finish. Yes, let’s, I thought as I gave up all hope and just walked in the general direction that everybody else was heel digging and cow poking.
As we left the hall, I gave Vicki the thumbs up to indicate yes, great fun, thanks.
Ruth was very kind.
“You did ok,” she told me, “considering it was your first time.” Very kind.
Tomorrow I might go for a run. In a straight line along a path, turn around, come back again.
I can always throw in some jazz hands when I’m coming down the street on the home stretch.