Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I know I can dance

Sharon Wildwind

My doctor said that more aerobic exercise would be a good idea.

I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that a recent study indicated sitting for long periods without getting up for 10-15 minutes contributed to blood vessel changes that make heart attack or stroke more likely. So I’ve tried to develop the habit of sitting at the computer for 50 minutes, and then getting up for 10.

It’s working pretty well, except that I’ve filled those ten minutes things like dish washing and filing. Boring! I wondered if I could convert some of those 10 minute periods to that aerobic exercise the doctor recommended.

I need something that I can stand up, do immediately, then stop after 10 minutes. There’s tai chi and pilates, both things I like, so I already had a lot going, but both of those things are rather mellow and laid back. What could I add that was fun, high-energy, and didn't require me to put my outdoor clothes on and go find a gym?

How about dancing? I already had a great bookDance Your Way to Fitness by Natalie Blenford (Avon Books) that contains the basic moves of hip-hop, broadway, latin, bollywood, and burlesque dancing.

I figured I’d start by learning the warm-up routine, in itself a 10-minute aerobic workout. I quickly discovered a problem. The warm-up includes jumping movements and I am, let’s leave it at, more endowed in certain areas than I was when I took dancing classes at five years of age.

I jiggled.

So I took myself off to a local dance costume and accessory stop to ask the nice woman who runs it if there was a solution for jiggling. Turns out the answer is a sports bra and/or a leotard. The problem was that this store also has a large supply of fabrics for making dance costumes.

I obviously needed not only a leotard, but a tu-tu as well, so I bought a bunch of purple netting and some gross-grain ribbon.

And a purple boa. You see, Natalie Blenford had assured me that a boa would make my burlesque moves come alive. She also recommended shoes with heels, long gloves, a corset and red lipstick, but maybe one thing at a time.

What I really wanted to complete my outfit was tap shoes. My mother and I had a terrible fight when I was five. I wanted to continue taking tap dancing; she insisted that tap dancing wasn’t ladylike and it would give me fat ankles. So I was forced to take ballet instead. I held out for a year, then gave up dancing all together. Forever. Until now.

I know now that that “fat” which would have developed around my ankles was really muscle. If I had developed serious ankle muscles that might have ameliorated my two spectacular ankle injuries later in life. Come to think of it, why should a five-year-old be worried about the shape of her ankles in the first place?

So I’m all set. I have my book, my leotard, my purple tu-tu, my purple boa, and my purple fedora, which has a yellow band that says, “Police Line – Do Not Cross.” Yes I really have one. I wear it while I’m writing.

I did give up on the tap shoes for now. I just can’t put the guy in the apartment below us through that.

Here’s a bit of art I did to inspire me in those 10-minute breaks.

For those of you who grove on technical jargon, the substrate is #62 hi-art illustration board, worked with Golden acrylics, a variety of Micron pens, India ink, and a hint of Smooch. All those products should have a trade mark sign with them, so take them as read. The figure is from eleanor peace bailey’s tag people, © 2007 by epb. She said to have a good time with her people, so I assume that means non-commercial use is okay. If it isn’t, someone will undoubtedly tell me.

Oh, one more piece of good news. At the 2010 Experimental Biology conference in Anaheim, California, results of research were presented that showed laughter can produce the same health benefits as repetitive physical exercise.

So here’s my advice: write for 50 minutes, dance for 10, and laugh as much as you can. That’s my plan for the summer.
Quote for the week:
If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.
~Emma Goldman, (1869 – 1940), writer, feminist, and activist


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

You go, girl! I love the poster--and it would make a great mug or T-shirt. I want one! The Emma Goldman quote is one of my favorites, too. I dance (45 minutes) to country music in my headphones on days when the weather won't let me get out to run. And on the subject of what we can or can't do, have you seen the video of 81 year old Janey Cutler doing a Susan Boyle singing up a storm on You Tube?

Sheila Connolly said...

There is nothing more joyous than watching a room full of not-young people cut loose to a cover band doing the songs of their youth. People dance with friends, spouses, and even total strangers--and they can laugh at the same time. Wish I could find more events like that! (The most recent was a fundraiser for our local organic farm--go figure.)

Anonymous said...

Ohh, dancing to country music is another great idea. Thanks, Liz.

Sheila, if you want to see some of that joy, look for YouTube videos from a dance hall, restaurant called Randalls in Lafayette, Louisiana. There's a lot of joy and laughter going on there.

Anonymous said...

I'm 71 and I've been dancing off and on all my life - except when I was a child and my father said he didn't want me showing my legs. It was my childhood sadness and my adult happiness. Now I square dance. You can't do that in pieces, but it's aerobic and fun.

Have a good time with the Fedora and the boa. They do sound inspirational.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Marilynne. You're inspirational yourself.

Pat Batta said...

I'm late coming to this but had to weigh in. I wasn't allowed to dance growing up, but dancing was in me. Unwatched, I could move to the music like you wouldn't believe. But put me on a dance floor and I was stiff as a board. I wouldn't want to be thought of as a loose woman, after all.
Then I married a man from India and was introduced to Indian weddings, where everyone dances. I watched their moves for a while and finally let loose. Oh, how good it felt! But now, much older and "jigglier", I'm back to dancing unwatched.
I read something a while ago about marathon writing, where the writer writes for forty five minutes and does something else for fifteen all day. Your idea to dance those non-writing minutes, at least a couple of times a day, sure beats housework!