PEN&INKee^POSSIBILITIES:Dance – aerobic style

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By Kirsten Laskey

Exercise classes have a mixed reputation. Fitness sessions are described as tough, and demanding endurance, and a strong performance. I believe exercise sessions have even been called a bunch of woman moving around like synchronized robots.

If you dig a little deeper and participate in a few of the classes at the Family YMCA in Los Alamos, however, I believe you would not see mechanics or drill exercises, but a real art form.

Even the names of the movements show strong artistic inclinations. It is not jumping-jacks, lunges or splits; no, it is hop-scotch, jack rabbit, grapevine. These names seem to have little to do with accurately describing the step; they serve another purpose – participants should feel like a creeping grapevine as they twist one leg behind the other and move from side to side or as they move quick like a jack rabbit lifting a foot to have it reach a hand.

And just like a ballet class or any type of dance instruction, how much heart and effort you put into these movements determines how well your performance will be. Those whose movements are precise, neat and strong look like any star ballet student ready for center stage, while those with movements that are uncontrolled and incomplete are reduced to the chorus section in the back of the gym.

Additionally, as with any dance class, practice makes perfect. The more you practice these steps, the more smooth the execution.

Music is also key to the art of exercise classes. The quicker the music, the faster the steps while slower musical beats require more low-key movements. In a Zumba class, participants shake their hips to a Latin hip-hop song, but slowly stretch to a sweet sounding ballad.

Even more fitting was the Twisted Sister tune played at the end of an aerobics class, in which everyone shouted along as they performed the exercise steps, “We’re Not Gonna to Take It!”

I recommend following Twisted Sister’s advice. Do not accept the conventional attitude toward exercise classes. Dig a little deeper to see the art in fitness sessions.