Hello, my internet friend. We have a lot of catching up to do, but I will do my best to give you the back story quickly so as to bring you up to speed.
Let me ask you a question: Have you considered inviting Jazzercise into your heart? No? Well, surely you’re aware that Jazzercise didn’t just end in the 1980’s, in a desperate, languished flurry of spandex leotards and legwarmers. Contrary to urban legend, the last person wearing sparkly Keds didn’t give a sad nod of realization, pause the Rick Springfield cassette, towel off their furrowed brow, and turn out the lights for good. The zealots kept it going, refusing to call each sassy hip walk their last. Indeed – they moved it underground, away from public scrutiny, slowly burgeoning in determination and strength of numbers. In rented halls and dark church basements, the penitent toned and shaped, while, above ground, fitness fads and gimmicks came and went with the passage of decades.
It was dabbling in one of these latest-fitness-craze apostasies that started my wife, Melissa, down a path towards true belief, and which would inevitably cause my eventual transition as well. This was a massive surprise to me at the time because Melissa had remarked only weeks before that “Working out was for suckers”. She had, for years, deemed herself a “non-exercise person” with a level of fierce resolution so as to be understood by those around her as a core tenant of her being. It was to my complete surprise that one day my 34 year old younger sister, and my 37 year old spouse began to go to Zumba class together, casually. It was being offered at the community center on a somewhat loose schedule due to the instructor frequently cancelling last minute. Melissa enjoyed it, initially, but began to want to have more consistency to her workout schedule than the instructor’s availability allowed. Alternatives were sought. There was a full blown Jazzercise center around the block from our house that offered 40 classes a week, and a $40 flat monthly fee to go to as many as you want.
Cautiously, Melissa began to attend, first by herself, and then with my sister. They eventually abandoned the path of Zumba altogether, and committed themselves to learn the moves and routines of the new order. Months passed.
Melissa was never overweight by any visual measure, but after months of diligent exercise she began showing a real change in her shape. “TOUCH MY ABS!” she would demand, lifting her shirt up and pointing, as I ate a huge hoagie on the couch. “FEEL HOW TIGHT MY QUADS ARE!”, yelled at me in the early hours of the morning while I slept; my arm pulled by the wrist from the warm covers, my limp finger thrust into taught leg tissue. It felt as if my hands started to callous from having to check my wife’s musculature with such regularity.
Around the house, slowly, the conversational topics were shifting away from our usual fare. I would find myself left out of discussions between Melissa and sister, Beth, debating which Pitbull song had the best choreography or which instructor gave the hardest workout; inducing more post-exercise soreness, and seen as a badge of progress. Weekends consisted of trips to LuluLemon, eschewing the Target brand workout uniforms that had sufficed until only recently, tossed away and replaced with expensive name brands boasting upgraded fit, feel and style. “Sassy Pants” – LuluLemon leggings with wild and dramatic color patterns that were celebrated in class, became a term used with some frequency around the converted. Discontinued models of Nike trainers which my wife preferred, but were otherwise unavailable on the retail market, were sourced on ebay and stacked like cord-wood in spare bedroom closets, waiting for their turn to be called into active duty.
Those who attend regular classes are always under the watchful eye of the instructors, scanning movements and behavior, gauging level of interest, until such point as they are asked to join the ranks and become instructors themselves. After months of training, movement screening, CPR certification, and memorizing a full hour of routines, Melissa was judged and deemed worthy by the council of Jazzercise Elders one fateful day.
This began a new chapter in her life, and in mine. Her former sewing room was cleared of its furniture, and a giant mirror hung on the wall with routines scribbled out on it with a dry erase marker. Each morning I am woken up at 5:30am by the bass lines of Ricky Martin and other Top40s artists seeping through the wall that splits us. This is layered with the sound of Melissa’s cheery voice calling out the moves to her class of our 3 attending Chihuahuas, ignoring their lack of interest in following along with the moves in practice repetition. Stacks of printed out spreadsheets of routines, teaching schedules with highlighted names, and DVDs full of choreographed songs litter the floor of her Jazzercise Dojo.
With such radical environmental changes in my household, it was only a matter of time until I, too, was pulled in to its clutches. This blog will serve as the journal of my experiences as a 37 year old male convert. Indeed, the ONLY male who is a Jazzercise regular at our local center besides an Pakistani senior citizen who comes on days opposite his country line dancing classes. I call it “Mazzercise: How I learned to stop worrying and love Rond de Jambes”.