It was NOT a New Year Resolution, but somehow I found myself inveigled into joining a Zumba class yesterday. There was no particular design or objective in this – merely the desire to accompany a friend. It has to be said that the last time I attended any sort of fitness class, there was a proscribed fag break half way through. So it’s probably been a while. I was misguidedly confident however, being in possession of a house which most resembles the Forth Bridge in the amount of labour involved to clean it, and I have three large dogs who would eat me rather than miss their daily walk. Despite my advancing years, I really believed that I was up to the challenge.
The first snaky thread of suspicion slipped into my consciousness when the ‘anticipated’ health form asked for my next of kin. Later I was to wish that they had called them before the music even began. We were warned. We were! Not to pour all our energies into the first three routines. I listened, I heard, I ignored. Threw myself with gusto into the melodies, the rhythms, the beat! Threw myself on the floor puce faced and breathless before the first three numbers were up!
Actually I didn’t. Remember those all important words – I went with a friend! Nothing, but nothing, would have seen me leave that exercise class in anything less than an ambulance with an iron lung in full swing! I smiled; call that a grimace, gritted my teeth and various other bits and carried on. There was a very fancy shaking thing going on! Living in a house with no heating, I really thought I’d got the shoulder shudder off pat. But not when I’m expected to bounce my feet and wave my arms at the same time. You don’t do that when you’re cold. You bring everything close together and shudder uniformly – not just shoulders or hips.
For my own part, I think that evolving an individual dance step that allows you to retie your own shoelaces without obvious effort is deserving of praise. Particularly when it allows you those few important seconds to decide whether you’ll live or die if you carry on doing what everyone else is doing. I AM that old that I remember Jane Fonda and ‘feel the burn!’ Feel the burn? I would have been glad of the burn! I would have willingly put both hands on the hot plate of the Aga if someone had given me permission to stop dancing. Memories of Hans Christan Andersen’s ‘Little Red Dancing Shoes’ sprang to mind; the story of a girl so obsessed with dancing and her beautiful dancing shoes that she eventually begs a double amputation from the local woodcutter. Iphone in hand, and despite desperate interrogation of Siri, there wasn’t a woodcutter in town yesterday – typical! How surprised would he have been, if in the locality, with a call asking him to chop off my feet?
So as we all bounced along to the music of |Pain, Panic and Passion, that well known South American Band, our instructor smiled. Smiled? Obviously at the Zumba instructor course she attended – otherwise known as ‘useful things to know in case of cardiac arrest’, they thought a smile would help. Well, yes, a smile would help as you pass from this world to the next, but not necessarily hers! Not least of all because it made her look like a direct descendant of the Marquis de Sade with all the finer polishings of pain in her brain that the 21st Century has to offer.
A litre of water down, I was praying for the end. I knew it had to involve a cooling routine – but even when it came, it still involved raising my arms above my head and resting in a squat position from which, bizarrely, fellow participants couldn’t hear my thighs screaming.
And whilst my heart is doubtlessly wondering what the hell went on yesterday; is busy nursing its grievances in private, the only muscles that are actually aching, are those suffering from playing the tenor horn!