‘Dancing with myself ...’

A number flashed on my scale this month after a holiday season (apparently) heavy on edible cheer, a number not seen since my postpartum days.

Fearing the looming 4-0 was already wreaking havoc on my metabolism, I called my friend, Paula, for support.

“You should try Jazzercise,” she said.

I laughed. “My last dance class was when I was 4,” I told her, “and my coordination has not improved much since then.” (True story, I once fell down a flight of stairs. On a date.)

But Paula had faith in me. So, powered by her confidence and my six-week holiday eating binge, I ventured into the studio to dance away the pounds that had landed on my backside.

Several other women were already there when I entered, ranging from grandmothers to a pair of snack-sized sorority girls.

“I like to stand away from the mirror,” another mom offered as I stared at the young coeds, secretly wishing breech births upon each of them someday.

Heeding her advice, I grabbed a spot away from my reflection as the instructor took the stage.

“Let’s warm up!” the instructor cheered as the music started, “Look right; now left; now right … .”

The room started swaying. I searched for a focal point, determined to not pass out three minutes in.

“Are you ready to move?” she asked.

Before I could answer, the music pumped faster … “step-ball-change” ... my two left feet tried to stay out of each other’s way ... “and now plié” … my heart rate chasséd right past its target.

“How’s everyone doing?” she smiled, looking right at me.

I did not know. I could not see the mirror. I had, however, decided that “Hip Hop” music would more accurately be called “Hip POP,” as that is what mine seemed to do with every swing to the beat. But I could not tell her this. I could not tell her anything. I could only pant.

I glanced back at the coeds, who had yet to break a sweat, and the grandmas, who were kicking it high and having a ball. I was being schooled.

Song after hip-popping song played on, and I had not performed a single combination correctly since the neck warm-ups. But then the familiar sound of Billy Idol, from my own (pre-hip-pop) era, filled my ears, and I knew I had this one in the bag …

However, the instructor’s moves were nothing like those from the ’80s, not a single Robot in the whole routine. Just like in high school, I was dancing with myself.

Triceps on fire, I was ready to throw in the towel — had I been able to lift it — when, as if from heaven, the cool-down began. Two songs later I was heading home to a warm bath, savoring the taste of victory in my first hour of battle against the holiday bulge.

Not surprisingly, that victory tasted a lot like sweat.


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