Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Not Jazz Hands But Jazz Everything

It was the Thursday before the big blizzard.  I'd stayed at work an extra few hours, grading papers and getting baked--no, not smoking up but actually baking in my over-87-degree office.  It wasn't so bad, though, because I'd changed into my very precious, most prized workout pants that I got for free from Summer Solstice and a sports bra and tank top to match.

When I finally made my way down Hempstead Turnpike after chugging along behind a school bus for what seemed like 100 miles, I found a parking spot and found the back entrance.  I was doing it.  I was going to Jazzercise. 

Or not going.  As I turned off the engine, I saw two little old ladies get out of their over-sized old lady car with two large mats and head inside. Oh, no.  This was old lady Jazzercise.  I was going to be the youngest person in the room by at least 500 years.  I texted everyone I knew in a panic: Old ladies were at Jazzercise. Old ladies were at Jazzercise.  I almost turned the car back on and headed home.

Two things: (1) I love me a free deal, and (2) another woman got out of a minivan with a mat and headed inside and she was not over a century old, so this Jazzercise thing was apparently for all ages, or not just for very old people. 

When I got to the counter that was almost over my head (seriously, why are counters above 4 feet?), I explained to the two women that I'd won a free month and even though the certificate said Jersey, Kathy the owner had emailed with me that she'd accept it.  They agreed that the regional manager on the certificate was not theirs, but since I knew Kathy's name, it was going to be okay.  They signed me up quickly, gave me a keychain tag of membership, and a receipt for zero dollars with the woman saying, I don't know why I'm giving you this, but here you go.  I loved this place already.  I was part of something!

I chose a spot in the back and started stretching.  The other women, quite a few, were milling around the front of the room, chitchatting with their winter coats and gloves still on. The room was cold.  The two women at the very high counter were also in coats, which I could understand since they were standing in one place, but if you're about to work out, shouldn't you stretch out and warm yourself up?  I did.  Which maybe made me seem like a workout snob.  Maybe I am.

By the by, upon a closer look, the old ladies were not centuries old.  They were older than everyone else, though.  One of them was in a very expensive Athleta workout outfit.  I know it was expensive because occasionally I pine after their clothing on the Athleta website and think to myself, why am I going to spend $70 on pants that I sweat in?  It's a good deterrent.

The room filled up and by 4:46, the class had begun.  I was standing on the end in the back row next to a girl who looked to be in her twenties.  Next to her was a woman whose age I couldn't tell because she looked to be out of her 20s but either in her 30s or 40s.  The rest of the room were typical middle aged Long Island women whose ages could have ranged from 40 to 60, but some were probably younger than that.  The teacher, I think, said she was 30, but since I'm bad with guessing ages, we'll say everyone was 39.

The teacher got us right to stepping.  She noted that several new faces were in the room.  As soon as we started, I didn't feel like I was new.  I felt like I'd been doing this for ages.  I was happy I was next to youngest girl and ageless woman because as the teacher, a slightly plump woman, taught the moves with low impact, the two next to me were bouncing around, jumping, and really truly jazzing.  I followed them.  I was born to do this.  Really, I've always dreamed of taking a workout class and since I don't see the point of joining a gym since I have room to work out at home, I never have.  Thank goodness for contests.

During the workout, the teacher called on women in the room, asking them about going to Stop and Shop to buy food before the storm. She kept indicating that every time she asked a question, no one would answer.  I laughed because that's my entire job: asking questions and receiving awkward stares.  It's good to know I'm not alone. The main difference is that loud music is playing and everyone in the room is slightly breathless.  My students don't have those excuses though they probably wish they did.

The teacher also began a huge conversation about being married.  All this was  happening between, Two steps to the right!  Sashay to the left! Dig down deep and push those arms!  Thrust that pelvis! Yeah!  Turns out, the old women have been married for an average of 50 years.  That is not an exaggeration.  See?  I told you they were old.  Also, the old women were hard core, keeping up with the class and doing the moves full out except for the jumping but they are in the age range for osteo so they shouldn't be jumping all that much anyway.  The one wearing the Athleta gear was ripped.  When we got to the weight portion, she was using five pounders.  For those of you who have never used weights for a fast-paced workout, it's like lifting 15 pounds slowly.  Basically, I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley.

Between the leg lifts and skipping to the front and back, the teacher then got on the subject of birthdays.  The girl next to me was going to be 23 soon.  Ahhh, if only I'd been Jazzercising at 23.  I wonder how different life would be.  Maybe I'd own all of the Jazzercises in the land by now.  Oh, the possibilities.

Then the mic went out.  Suddenly, we couldn't hear any of the chit chat or any of the instructions for jazzing it up.  Apparently, this was the third mic to go on her.  The counter woman ran outside and came back in with a new mic pack.  I want a mic of my own.  I'd rock at this.  Also rocking at this was Ageless Woman next to me.  I heard her say that she knows the moves to the music so she does some of the moves automatically.  Hmmm, does she also teach Jazzercise?  Does everyone teach it but me?

After about 45 minutes of jumping and jiving and catching on to everything (I'm not bragging; I'm just that good), we did weights and floor work for abs and legs.  Well, not "we" exactly.  I hadn't brought my mat or weights.  I stretched instead.  One of the counter women rushed over with a mat halfway through, but I waved her off with a thanks but not today.  I was good stretching. 

Class ended with a final tally of who was going to Stop and Shop.  I don't have a Stop and Shop near me, so I fell on the No side.

Fast forward to a few days after the storm.  Once again, I get stuck behind a bus on the entire way to the class from work.  This time, I'm armed with a mat and 3-pound weights because I'm not as buff as Athleta Lady.  The class is full of all different aged women.  The only one I recognize is Ageless Woman.  I scanned in this time with my keychain membership and the counter woman remembered my last name and pronounced it correctly.  I belong!

This teacher was less chatty, more ripped, and only occasionally spoke the lyrics of the music.  The music, by the way, is amazingly awesome.  I want to pump it in my car with the windows down. She started class by saying, No one new is here, right? Good.  Since I didn't want to burst her goodness bubble and since technically I wasn't new since I'd taken one class before even if it wasn't with her, I didn't shout out, Hey over here me I'm new!  Instead, I stayed in place and started moving my head in and out like a turtle.  That's the move.  I did it.  One does not question Jazzercise choreo.  This class was a little bit more high impact overall.  The teacher was jumping on her little stage.  I was huffing and puffing a little bit more.  I was doing the athlete-exhale, the one where you purse your lips and make that obnoxious hey-I'm-working-out sound.  

After 45 minutes of cardio, it was back to weights and mat work. The weights were pretty simple as were the abs and legs.  I kept up with it, but this time, it was a bit more tiring.  But that's the point. Jazzercise is for making you tired from being so happy.  I do believe that during both classes, I was smiling like a lunatic and I'm pretty sure they are scared for me to come back, which is too bad considering I'm going to work the hell out of my free membership.  Plus, I'm now obsessed.  I won't be able to stay away and when my membership ends, I'll be devastated. Or I'll have to sign up for more classes.  There's always that.

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