Intentionally moving my body - some might call it "exercise" - has been part of my routine now for about six years. Over that time, I've gone from struggling to finish 20 minutes on an elliptical trainer to gradually adding more and different activities. An aqua aerobics class led to a dance class, which led to strength training and spin class and (eventually) running, swimming and biking. But when I really need to feed my spirit, I head to Salsa/Funk class to dance my troubles - and my jiggling thighs - away.
It's a cardio class in the truest sense of the word, because it is intensely good for my heart. Moving with the music, surrounded by friends, sweating like a fiend and absolutely working every part of the routines is just indescribable. It leaves me exhausted and exhilarated, untethered and untamed. It taps into the part of me that transcends the physical. Yes, my body follows the steps, but it's the soul that dances. And 583 calories later, it doesn't feel like you've worked out, but you've earned the donut.
Last night brought my friend Donna, the originator of Salsa/Funk back to Lifetime Fitness in Schaumburg. After two years in different clubs around the area, the Funkstress herself came home. There's no denying the distinct pleasure we felt dancing to Thriller, and Applause, and Jai Ho, and every other song she chose for the playlist. We got an hour of groove on and left just overflowing with joy.
The last time I danced with Donna in Schaumburg, I was healing from injury. Let's face it - I've been recovering a lot over the past few years. So doing some of the dances last night felt different in my legs. I was able to jump, and leap, and feel supported by my own muscles. It was amazing; I felt strong and in control, capable and frankly fantastic.
Sometimes when the blues come calling - and they do, more often than I'd like to admit - I force myself to get out and move, whether on the bike or on foot or in the pool or, when the timing works out, in a dance class. It is amazing to me how just working up a sweat and pushing my body a little bit can set everything right. And the best way I know to do that is with an hour of this class. It's a reminder that our bodies are miraculous and perfect, that we should be grateful for the ability to move. It's an opportunity to loosen our grip on reality for 60 minutes and just be a dancer.
And I'm reminded of the closing scene in the movie "My Best Friend's Wedding," when Rupert Everett assures Julia Roberts that there may not be marriage. There may not even be sex. But by God ... there will be dancing.
There will, indeed.