In Shape

Everything You've Always Wondered About A Gym Class, But Were Afraid To Find Out Yourself:

Kate Kelly tried "Grooveology" on for size. Her experience might inspire you to try the funk aerobics class at your gym.

I listen to hip-hop music. I like to go dancing at clubs. And I was getting bored with my usual workout — running three to four miles several times a week and lifting free weights. So I figured how hard could it be to do a funk dancing class?

The answer, it turned out, was hard. I should have known by the looks of the men and women gathered outside my gym's workout room, a good 15 minutes before the Sunday-afternoon class even started. They were dressed to work out, and the abs I could see were pretty ripped — as were the arms and legs. Not encouraging for a woman who flunked out of ballet as a child and whose high school drama coach once described as "wooden."

Devora, the funk instructor, walked in two minutes before class. First she pumped up the music. Then she led the group in some light warm-ups: head rolls, toe-touches, a few arm stretches. This I could handle. It was when Devora started really moving that I fell apart.

As the people in front of me were getting down, I was struggling with the basic steps. I focused on Devora's feet, thinking that if I could master the footwork, the rest would follow. Still, it was hardly confidence-inspiring that while I was nailing the bare essentials — like a grapevine or a kick-ball-change — others in front of me were boogeying away, adding their own flair to what were otherwise fairly basic routines.

At long last Devora finished teaching the combination and the group began performing it over and over. At that point I had lost track of a couple of the moves, but I tried to fake it anyway. My legs were sore — perhaps from doing some of the moves wrong — and I was getting tired; sweat was flying. But the music was inspiring, so were the people around me.

The bottom line: I realized that if I want to stick with funk aerobics, my learning curve will be steep. Still, I figure it'll get easier with every class and I definitely thought it was a good workout. At the end of the hour, Devora led the group in abs training. Looking around the room, I noticed there wasn't a good dancer present who didn't have a washboard stomach. I made a final note to myself: sit-ups, sit-ups, sit-ups.


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