Inhibitions are funny things. I have one friend who says she could never do a hip-hop dance class with me because she’s “not sexy like that” and yet has no problem asking the male cashier at Walgreens if the temporary tattoo she is buying would look better on her left ta-ta or her right. It’s all about how much discomfort we can stand.
Tonight my friend A wanted to try Zumba, the latin dance aerobic class that I love so passionately I’ve been known to whip it out in grocery stores, so she met me at the Y and we giggled all the way to the back row of the crowded class. Maybe it was because we had a new instructor – an unnervingly hot hombre – or maybe it was all the crazy hip shaking they do but suddenly A was turning pinker than her shirt. And while some of it could be chalked up to sweat, she did look rather uncomfortable.
“Too slutty?” I whispered as we did a move that involved zig-zagging our arms like an Egyptian and simultaneously wiggling our hips.
She shook her head, then nodded, then shook her head again.
I know where she’s coming from. The first time I took TurboKick and learned the “pump” – one of the core moves that involves crunching your abdomen and then popping it back out in a very Beyonce kind of way – I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I mean, do nice contributing members of society really do that? I stared around the room at the dozens of other women working their thang and nobody seemed the least bit fazed. That’s probably because they knew what was coming next.
The stripper squat. The first time I saw that move done in a group fitness class, my friend A and I quite literally fell to floor giggling. I felt like I’d inadvertently stepped into a b-level rap video. We were too silly to do the move and instead did an awkward sort of squat-jump thing.
Enter Hip Hop Hustle. TurboKick, being mostly Muay Thai style kick boxing, makes it easy enough to get around any particular move that might be uncomfortable but HHH forced me to confront my inner sexpot in a big way.
On the one hand it is really fun, especially in a girls-with-hips-rock kind of way. Turbo Jennie even turns off the lights to make everyone less self-conscious. But on the other hand you have Gym Buddy Allison faced off with T, the Lone Man in Our Class whilst doing a “streamer grab” involving hip thrusting. “Yeah, it was definitely awkward,” she said after class. “Neither of us looked at each other.” I bet. Especially since his wife is also in our class.
Either way, it really makes you realize how comfortable (or not, in my case) you are with your body.
“Get low, people!” Turbo/Hustler Jennie yelled one night. “Unless you’re T, I should be able to see cleavage!”
“I don’t have any!” I yelled back.
“Then buy a smaller bra and make some!” she retorted, marking the only time a gym instructor has told me I need cleavage to work out.
Does sexiness have a place in group fitness? I have to admit some unease in this matter. For me it has been both liberating as it helps me to embrace my feminine side and unnerving as it forces me outside my comfort zone. And where does one draw the line between fun sexy and amateur-night-at-Sugar’s?
One HHH newbie made that point the other night when, on impulse, she freaked on the girl next to her. Everyone stared. “Too provocative?” she asked.
Allison quipped, “I’m bringing dollar bills next time.”
What’s your comfort zone? You willing to give anything a try in the name of a good sweat or are the 6 counts of “cha-cha” in step class enough flavor for you? Would you do this class?
Photo Credit: XKCD