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Jazzercise, Uncategorized

You should be dancing — YEAH

At the National Day of Dance event we hosted in Stamford last year. Credit Shelly Cryan, The Stamford Advocate for a rare picture of myself that I can actually bear to look at!

I’m happy-dancing my way through a terrific milestone this weekend: It’s been a year since I was certified to teach Jazzercise. Fifty-two weeks of choosing my sets, learning the choreography and bringing lots of terrific women the gift of fitness, one hour at a time.

No one is more surprised than I am.

Not long ago, my only form of exercise was walking around the neighborhood — and none too fast.

And although I took tap and ballet as a kid, I am not athletic. In winter guard, it took me eons to learn how to manipulate my flag — and even longer to figure out how to catch the thing in midair without running out from beneath it.

I sat out of gym or found a reason to do as little as possible (any of my high school chums remember an entire semester of ping-pong?).

Marching band kept me moving … a little, but the only marathons I ever took part in involved long stretches of reading while supine on the couch. My parents had to threaten my life to get me out in the fresh air.

Six+ years ago, I took stock, admitted that thin did not necessarily equal fit and very gingerly stuck my toes into my first Jazzercise class, in Stamford, CT, near where I live.

I was hooked immediately. That hour flew by; I had the time of my life and no matter that a chorus of undiscovered muscles sang to me for days afterward.

With Peg after we warmed up the crowd at the Liver Foundation walk in September.

Class quickly became my refuge and I celebrated each little milestone — graduating weights, being able to touch my toes, not having to fall back on low-impact moves.

In a bit of time, I was shedding oversized T-shirts for form-fitting exercise togs, and going through several pairs of sneakers each year.

Still, it took a long time before I could imagine myself up on stage teaching others. How would I learn all this, how would I overcome my natural tendency to stay in the background and actually inspire others to work hard and get results?

In the end, I decided it was selfish to keep all this good stuff to myself. I was the oldest of our little group that was certified last spring, and will never forget the grueling day of technique training and practice that followed our audition and high-energy team-taught actual class. (Talk about being tossed in the deep end right off the bat!)

I’m still kicking myself for waiting so long. And while I love it, it’s not easy. Some weeks, the choreography flows through me like music itself, and other weeks, well, not so much. (It’s all good as long as we keep moving, though; there’s always another song coming up — a fresh chance to get it perfect.)

And there are numerous benefits beyond the obvious:

  • I’m surrounded by terrific, inspiring women
  • I’ve made some wonderful new friends and strengthened bonds with other women I’ve danced with all this time
  • The customers LIKE me, offering compliments, one time even making me laugh out loud by pulling out wax lips when I taught “Moves Like Jagger
  • For an hour at a time, people listen to me. Mothers of teenagers know what a rare and special thing this is
  • A corollary to that: For an hour at a time, people do what I tell them to. See qualifying comment above
  • I get to eat almost anything I want (although middle age suddenly seems to have a sense of humor even about that)
  • When I catch a glimpse of my 46-year-old silhouette in the mirror, I think, “not too shabby”

The best part, though, is the sense of confidence that resulted from tiptoeing into that first class six years ago. I get to show Catherine: You CAN do anything you set your mind to.

Just have some ice and Tylenol handy — just in case. …

With Pina, center; and Kristen; after performing the half-time show at the Big East last fall.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


11 thoughts on “You should be dancing — YEAH

  1. Congrats on your certification. With all the Zumba classes out there, I wonder why Jazzercise hasn’t had a resurgence.

    Posted by Sheila Simmons | January 8, 2013, 12:05 pm
  2. Happy anniversary-I just celebrated my 17th Jazzer anniversary. It only gets better!

    Posted by Judy | May 21, 2012, 8:00 am
  3. Let the good times roll!

    Posted by Mike Holland | May 20, 2012, 1:35 pm
  4. Way to go! I’ve been teaching for almost 7 months now! My grandson had his first birthday just before my workshop! Yes, it was a daring move to get certified at 50! Thanks for sharing your story. It’s never too late to get fit!

    Posted by Deborah | May 19, 2012, 6:03 pm
  5. Woohoo! (insert disco finger here).

    Posted by Tammy | May 19, 2012, 1:00 pm
  6. From one Jazzercise instructor to another…You go girl!! I love to hear stories like this.
    I also, am middle aged so your sense of humor speaks to me. Let us keep giving women
    “the gift of fitness.”

    Posted by Lisa | May 19, 2012, 12:37 pm

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