I used to be a dancer.
By that I mean over twelve years of dance training a la Strictly Come Dancing stylee, Latin American, Ballroom, Rock n Roll ……Contemporary. My evenings and weekends were divided between homework, practice and rehearsals and to be honest not a fat lot else. I was in a formation team, I entered competitions, I took all of the required exams…..a whirlwind of glitter, lycra and fake tan.
And hairspray. Justin Beiber’s 2011 quiff ain’t got nothin’ on my 90′s crimped cheerleader-esque high ponytail.
The fact I didn’t have much of a social life as a result didn’t bother me one iota, I loved it. And I loved the way my body was strong and flexible yet feminine and lithe rather than bulky and muscly.
Unfortunately when life (and age) got in the way my dancing days were numbered. And rather than just not do anything for a while I immediately joined a gym and became a regular pounder-of-the-treadmill.
I don’t mind running, sometimes when the sky is blue, the sun is shining and you can turn your music up super loud there’s almost nothing better than sharing your thoughts with the pavement outdoors. The reality is though most of the time it’s wet, and cold and it plays ruddy havoc with your knees. So inside it is. Running towards nothing but the dingy walls of Virgin Active.
I became a bit obsessed with exercise. Especially in preparation for W-day. I was running, cycling, cross-training, I had various personal trainers…..and my biceps were all sorts of impressive.
The thing is, I actually didn’t really enjoy it that much, and if I’m honest – although my body was toned, it was also rather muscular. I had lost the feminine edge of my dancing youth and didn’t have the first clue how to get it back. I went on Honeymoon with the distinct beginnings of a six pack. And no, I didn’t like it at all.
For the last four years since I’ve been married I’ve tried most things in order to stay fit and healthy but not end up with the calves of a marathon man.
This has proved difficult.
And incredibly dull.
Then in December I went and broke my right foot walking up the stairs. ( I know – who does that?)
That was interesting. I physically couldn’t do much exercise even if I had wanted to. And I won’t hide the fact that after being so active for such a long time I had visions of all of my hard work coming undone in a matter of weeks.
It was possibly the best thing that has ever happened to me in a while.
I continued with my stretching and as I couldn’t do anything aerobic instead practised some of my old dancing warm-up routines using a mat and sometimes a power plate* – these were primarily based on ballet.
Over the last 12 weeks my body has transformed. My clothes fit like they never have before. I feel more confident. My husband has said that despite being less “worked out” I had never looked better…. and after all, I guess it’s only his opinion that matters.
I am trying not to dwell on the fact that I have possibly wasted months (and maybe even years) being bored, putting massive strain on my joints….all to not really be that appreciative of the results.
And then I heard about this new fitness craze – although I don’t see how it’s that new exactly, more readily “available” to those over the age of twelve – and that is adult ballet. Proven to keep you fit, healthy and above all lean and lithe.
There is actually a class taking place near where I live – I went to investigate a few weeks back and there were girls from the age of sixteen to ladies the age of seventy taking part. They looked amazing. So elegant and graceful.
I guess the point I am trying to make is the gym (and any kind of continuous aerobic activities that build muscle as per running/cycling etc) is not always the answer. Although I can appreciate these work for many folk the world over, there are other fun classes you can enjoy that actually, may have much better results for you.
For Valentines day Mr O’Shea bought me….ballet slippers.
And I promptly threw my running trainers in the bin.
So next week, my friends Lisa, Kelly and I begin our dancing adventure and I am genuinely looking forward to it.
Have any of you lovelies found a fitness routine that suits you? Pilates or Yoga? perhaps something unexpected/unusual? Does the thought of the gym leave you cold?
Maybe I’ll see you at the barre…….
Big Ballet Love
*A “Power Plate” for those who don’t know is a large vibrating plate that you can actually carry our exercises on, they are supposed to work you twice as hard in half the time. I find they really work for me, especially for lunges etc