A lot of people have said to me they can't imagine anything more terrifying than doing stand-up; that having to think quickly and be funny in front of a room full of people is close to nightmare territory. Yesterday, I discovered my equivalent... Zumba.
I have about as much faith in my body as I have in people with guns. I've carefully trained it to walk to places in a pair of jeans and then to just do as little as possible so it doesn't give us away as being little better than a toddler when it comes to coordination. Maybe it was too much Ninja Turtles as a child, but I often wish I could just be a brain... my brain and I get on so well (on a good day). I've cultivated a happy little nook in the world where I don't really need to be able to do much other than type, learn and then emit witticisms as and where appropriate.
So yesterday I thought I'd take myself out of my comfort zone and try out a Zumba class... Zumba translates into English as: "Dance workshop designed to make middle class people look panicked".
I think the real pit of the stomach panic appeared when the instructor bounded into the room, he was made entirely of dread locks and limbs and if he had body fat, he was keeping it in his locker. I'm not even 50% limbs, I'm a healthy mix of puffy head, boobs and a stomach bump that cannot be blamed on bad posture or pregnancy. My gene pool conveniently combined to give me the additional facial hair of my father and the jacket potato knees of my mother. This isn't usually a problem when I have foundation and jeans to combat the problem; but in a pair of shorts and an already sweaty green t shirt I was starting to regret even entering a mirrored room.
Without introducing himself Dreadlimbs kicked off the first track and started to move... this immediately caused a problem for me because he was doing everything four times and then changing the move to a new one. Four times is not enough to learn, copy and repeat! The first time he did it I was still doing the last thing, the second time I had noticed and was watching whilst trying to still look busy, the third time I was moving in the right direction but with absolutely no clarity and the fourth time I was just about starting to feel camouflaged by everyone else before he'd moved on to something else. I distinctly heard the woman behind me ask the woman next to her if she thought I might be fighting a bee.
I can only hope that the feeling of burning shame also tosses a few calories into the furnace at the same time. By the end of the third song my instructor told me that if I was going to have to leave if I insisted on remaining in the foetal position.
I was determined to try and make it through the entire class; physically it wasn't a problem to keep up but recreating the same shapes as Dreadlimbs was actually impossible. My arms and legs just wouldn't continue doing the same thing if I shifted my attention to another part of my body.
If I'd thought it was bad when the music was still on, the worst was very much still to come... old Dreadlimbs paused the music and asked us to find a position in the room where we were near something we could bang. If we couldn't find wallspace then it was fine to use the floor. I shuffled nervously to the back and stood, my back felt like someone had left a 99 ice cream on my neck and just let it meander down to my waist, my hair was sticking out at odd angles like I'd just had 1950s cartoon sex and I think I might have been crying.
"We've got a 30 second intro on this next song" says Dreadlimbs,
"Biscuit time?" my brain chirrups.
"So, what I want you to do is really let loose! I want you to spank that wall or floor with all the attitude you've got! I want your ass shaking, I want to see booty moving!! I want to see you really do this! Let me hear noises, I want attitude faces! Are you ready?"
"I SAID ARE YOU READY?!"
"Not at all! Is my booty my ass or my hips? I'm much more breasticularly enhanced, please may I shake those? I don't want to spank the floor... I'm quite flaily, I think it's going to look more like a cockroach infestation than foreplay."
"I SAID ARE YOU READY??!!"
And then all of a sudden everyone went mental. People started rhythmically whipping the floor and saying "Oh yeah!", I learnt that booty means everything in your body that is wobblier than bone, people started crawling across the floor like some kind of slinky Rihanna cat with ricket hips. I stood at the back nervously apologising to my wall space and reassuring it that I was only acting under orders and that it hadn't really done anything wrong.
If it hadn't been for Alesha Dixon and her search for a new drummer boy (I can only assume she's putting together a Christmas Fayre) then I would probably have sworn of movement for life. But suddenly, Dreadlimbs was encouraging us to march. Yes, marching! Now, this is how the British conquered the world: simple repetitive movements with no sway, no sass, no creativity... just right leg, left leg, make a right angle with your leg - angles I understood. I was in my element.
I'm going to stick to my cardio machines today... maybe a little bit of machine weights if I'm feeling saucy. Organised movement is not for me. I'll be going to the gym later this afternoon, if I can just get through this list of apology letteres to anyone who has ever gone clubbing with me.