Dancing With Goodman

5 Mar

I am currently enrolled in a “fat exorcism” exercise class.

Twice a week, we gather at the BU gym and our instructor chases us around the room yelling, “The power of Spring Break compels you!” as we spew out all types of sweat and liquefied fat.

The class is actually called “Fat Burn,” but I believe in making things sound much more severe than they actually are.

“Fat Burn” is exactly what it sounds like – an hour of squats and weird, vaguely sexual looking moves that are intended to demolish fat reserves due to any and all combinations of: Sunday night beef nachos, Hershey’s Kisses found in the bottom of a backpack/purse/coat pocket, six glasses of wine (which were purely for throat lubrication purposes), a mystery carrot from that day you went Paleo, three bags of airplane pretzels that were indented to preemptively combat motion sickness (which never ended up occurring), 1.5 cupcakes that were delicious at the time but that left you incapacitated for three hours, a rogue chicken breast that probably shouldn’t have smelled like tuna, and a piece of paper that you accidentally ingested when you got too lazy to completely unwrap your sandwich.

(Please be advised: this diet is not for everyone. Results may vary and are not always positive. Please contact your doctor before attempting to eat like that and then exercise a lot.)

Anyway, Fat Burn is usually an effective class. You spend ten minutes setting up your equipment; ten minutes listening to Pam – our fit instructor – explain what you can expect from the class; five minutes trying to figure out what the heck is tattooed on Pam’s shoulder; three minutes worrying that your sports bra is too loose and will lead to breast sagging; two minutes complaining to friends that your body aches from the last class; thirty seconds looking at yourself in the mirror and determining that your breasts don’t look any more saggy than they did yesterday; one minute panicking about excessive leg hair (and then deciding to let is go); and then about thirty minutes lifting weights and doing crunches and probably causing irreparable damage to your groin after slipping on your own sweat during a straddle stretch.

This week, Bonnie and Emalie and I arrived at our Monday class ready to be greeted by Pam and her mystery tat and her incomparable Pitbull playlist.

But Pam was nowhere to be found. Instead, were greeted by John Goodman’s cousin – a slightly smaller yet equally not small version of John Goodman.

Billy Goodman (let’s go with that) was a hair short of 50 years old and was sporting bright white sneakers and tall socks. His Bruins t-shirt dangled down to his knees and his smile said “You will leave this class feeling sweaty and confused.”

And confused we were.

Billy’s approach to exercise was completely different from Pam’s. He believed in the old “fake left, dodge right” approach; he lulled us into a false sense of ease and security, only to rip the rug out from under us and make us wish we’d had the good sense to cry, “Lady troubles!” before entering the room.

Emalie and I arrived slightly late to class and found Bonnie and the others engaged in what can only be described as a “Falcon Mating Ritual.”

In my 21 years of age, I have never seen dance moves like Billy’s.

Picture this: a room full of young women and one man, flapping their arms around like they were swatting away a fly while under the influence of Ecstasy.

We swatted. And we kicked. And we pelvic thrusted.

All of my swatting and kicking and thrusting attempts were always slightly behind…probably because I really struggle with choreographed dance moves.

I took two years of ballroom dancing classes. And by the end of the second year, I still couldn’t tell you the difference between the Mambo and a Salsa. (The second one I knew quite well, but only in a “mild and sometimes with peach, if we have guests coming over” kind of context.)

None of the boys wanted to dance with me because I seemed so confused and uncertain…NOT because I wore “fancy parachute pants” to every rehearsal and worked myself into a mute cold sweat every time a boy approached.

Not to toot my own horn (I swear, I’m leaving my horn in my backpack as I write this), but I am an exceptionally gifted freestyle dancer.

I can do the Worm. And the shimmy. And the Worm-shimmy combo. And the reverse shimmy-Worm combo. And the butt shake. And the “WOO!” (For that last one, all you have to do is drink a lot, lift your arms above your head, and yell, “woo!”)

Okay I lied, I’m tooting my horn left and right and it’s actually causing quite a scene. But I don’t even care because I’m just that good at freestyle dancing…

While one of my many nicknames may be “Lordess of the Freestyle,” I am not good at choreographed dance moves.

Unfortunately, it turns out that ballroom dancing and dance-like fitness classes have a lot in common.

Well, not for Billy. Billy moved with experience and grace.

He kept weaving and dodging and squeakily yelling things like, “Can you keep up with THESE arms?” and “You know you love this!” and “What’s she even doing back there?!”

Falling. That’s what I was doing.

There’s really nothing quite like watching yourself do a “Reverse Grape-Vine Twist” in the mirror and then bumping into your neighbor and causing a domino effect in the front row.

We looked like we were trying to play basketball on ice skates.

We also couldn’t stop laughing, which was not helping my balance. Every time we laughed, Billy looked at us like we were making fun of a crippled dog. His movements said “I want to be a butterfly!” but his annoyed expression said, “I will cut you with my razor sharp butterfly wings if you don’t shut your pie hole.” (I bet he loves pie.)

Once the dancing was done, we thought we were in for some light stretches and a motivational pep talk.

No, no.

Billy decided to get serious. He whipped out barbells and dumbbells and other scary looking things that weigh a lot. (Honey Boo Boo’s mom.)

He made us do push-ups and yelled, “Ladies love push-ups” to whomever would listen.

He announced, “Spring break is next week,” and expected us to work harder and faster. (My response? Yes, thank God I will be drunk in a week and won’t care about my “tricep definition.”)

When it was all over, we felt like we’d danced and squatted our way to ruptured discs and torn ligaments.

Luckily, Pam returned for the next class, and so did Pitbull and her WATER LILLY tattoo. (Took an extra minute to figure that out.)

She apologized for the sub and said she’d never abandon us again without forewarning.

I forgive Pam. But, I’ve decided it’s time to listen to my body. And my body chooses to exorcise the effects of winter.

Hello spring break!


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