Dance like no one is watching. Except when people are watching.

My cousin is getting married this November and I had but one question for my aunt:

“DJ or band?” 

“Ten piece band!” she said. “Bring your scuffs because it’s going to get wild.”

“What’s a scuff?” I asked.

“She means slippers,” my mother explained. “Bring your slippers.”

“My slippers?!” I screeched. “Why would I do that?!”

But I know why, of course. Because most women are no longer capable of wearing respectable footwear for more than two hours at a time. And my aunt mistakenly thinks that I’m one of them.

Don’t get me wrong. I can get behind slipping on a pair of flip flops for the walk to the train or a quick change into a pair of cute flats during a reception. But I draw the line at donning a pair of slippers in a hotel ballroom when a professional band is playing.

My advice on the subject is very simple: Don’t do that.

“I’ll be leaving my shoes on,” I said told my aunt matter-of-factly. “I’m a professional.”

That seemed to remind her of another thing: She wanted to take dance lessons.

“Oh you don’t need lessons,” my mom said with the wave of her hand. “Just watch Nova and do whatever she’s doing. Like this.”

And with that, she slowly shrugged her shoulders several times while swaying back and forth to the imaginary beat of what I can only assume was a very somber version of the hokey pokey.

“That is not how I dance,” I said.

But the universe begged to differ.

Fast forward to the following weekend when I accompanied a friend to Dancebody, a studio in downtown Manhattan that seems to mix hip-hop and zumba and whatever else it feels like to create a high-impact cardio workout.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but considering that this video is on their landing page, I probably should have guessed that it was going to be nuts.

But let me tell you, there is no YouTube clip in the world that could have adequately prepared me for that class.

There were high kicks. There were (imaginary) box jumps. There was intricate footwork and complex sequences followed by an endless series of planks and inexplicable bouts of running in place.

And all of that was strung together into several routines that the class was never actually taught.

I’m not kidding. Imagine seeing that video and trying to follow along without any instruction. That’s exactly what the class was.

If I had walked around the room raising and lowering my shoulders for an hour, it probably would have looked better than what I did – which was arbitrarily spin, kick and jump – usually in the wrong order –and avoid anything that looked like it might turn into a side plank.

In all fairness, there really wasn’t enough space to do some portions of the routine. I mean, when 25 women are all instructed to do three stag leaps in a standard-size studio, it’s really just a matter of time before someone accidentally throws herself out a window.

And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to know whose idea it was to choreograph a vigorous free-weight routine to Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae). That’s not how you get a good workout. That’s how you lose teeth.

But there are no excuses for the rest of my dismal performance. I couldn’t keep up.

When everyone sashayed left, I was still moving right. When they were up, I was down. There was one brilliant second when I managed to jump on the correct count, only to land on my own foot.

I gave up somewhere around the time when the class returned to the plank position and executed a series of horizontal jumping jacks. I got so caught up that I missed the cue to come back to my feet and only realized my mistake when I saw several pairs of sneakers grapevine right by my head.

What’s a grapevine, you ask? Well don’t expect Dancebody to show you. Just do your best impression of one. And then do it BIGGER.

But for as frustrating as the class was, I’ll admit that it got my heart rate up. At the end of the hour, I felt about as exhausted as I did when I finished a half marathon last year – but without any of the sense of accomplishment.

My friend did not share my exhaustion.

“You’re welcome to come with me to calisthenics class,” she offered as we walked out of the studio.

Now?!” I screamed. “I don’t know how you’re going to work out more after that!”

“Well you can come with me to yoga,” her friend replied. “That’s easy.”

I was too tired to laugh, so I snorted.

No, I would not be going to calisthenics or yoga or any other exercise class of any kind. The only activity I would be doing was taking the train home, where I would spend the rest of the afternoon sitting under a ceiling fan and eating a fruit salad.

In my scuffs, of course.

***

If you haven’t seen it yet, I wrote a guest post for Cision about the five things I wish I learned sooner about working in PR. Spoiler alert: One of them involves being chased by a flock of geese through national park. So yeah. You’re going to want to read it. Get it here. 

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