Sunday, August 3, 2008

Surviving Bellydance Bootcamp

I know it sounds rediculous to think that anyone would NOT survive a weeklong bellydance workshop. Considering I normally run to 4 different places teaching about 12 classes a week of any mixture of kickbox, powersculpt, spinning, cardio-step aerobics, urban rebounder, and beginner bellydance, plus train some clients in between; it's safe to say I'm not a lazy person. Add to that the 20 hours running around at the hospital lifting and moving patients, or teaching CPR classes, flying home to drop off or pick up or cook for one of my three kids, and then run errands and clean the house...oh yeah, and don't forget the never-ending classes at school I'm STILL taking...I love pushing myself to the limit!
Ever since I took Suhaila Salimpour's 3-day level 1 Workshop last August in Arlington, VA, and got level 1 certified, I knew I was hooked! After 24 years of teaching and/or taking almost every new trend of fitness classes available, I have finally found something that challenges me both physically and mentally. Don't get me hour long class at L A Boxing, punching and kicking the hell out of a heavy bag with multiple sets of push ups and sit ups intermittingly or teaching an hour long spin class are both enough to make me hypertentilate and want to through up. Then there was the half marathon I ran 2 years ago in 1 hr. 58 mins. after only starting to run again for 3 months, which of course gave me a cramp in my hamstrings that lasted 2 months. These too, are challenges I welcome!
There is another element to Suhaila's workshops that for me added to the mental challenge I experienced and that is unfamiliarity. There's a difference between knowing how to do something and pushing it to your physical limit, which takes mental discipline and determination. It's a whole other thing trying to do something you're totally unable to do at first while you're watching other people in the same class doing that same thing you're struggling with, 4 times faster, plus two other things at the same time. Talk about frustrating!!!! Now, if you're a "type A" person in one of these's enough to make you cry.
Ok, so I didn't cry, but that's only because I'm not one to cry very easily. But I almost didn't go back to class after lunch on the second day of class. Of course being a "type A" person, that would be absolutely unacceptable, so instead I just got depressed and dragged my ass back to class. I can't say the second half was any better. Actually, it was worse! We learned choreography, which is probably not that big of a deal to a dancer, but that's not my background. On a positive note, I did keep up with every single push up, all 300 abdominal exercises (with a bruise on my spine to prove it), the lunges, splits, and glute squeezes for the hour-long warm up everyday, though!
What's so difficult? Moving my pelvic area clockwise for hip squares (marking 4 points) at 1/4 time or 1/2 time was nothing. Trying to do chest rolls (undulations) up to down or down to up was ok, too. Putting them together is a bit challenging for me, but attainable. It's when I try to do alternating glute squeezes full time while moving with rib cage slides in any direction at a different speed and try to remember what's coming up next that gets me totally frazzled. And that's just the beginning!
Day three arrives and I have no ambition to get out of bed and get to class. The thought of not being able to remember the choreography and do it all correctly was making me sick to my stomach. I had to remind myself that I traveled to the other side of the United States and paid a lot of money for this whole trip, and I would hate my own guts if I didn't finish what I started. So off I walked to the train.
The warm-up was even harder, but I was able to still do the whole thing, which made me feel better. We learned some new drills that for some reason, I actually seemed to pick up quicker than usual. Suddenly I was starting to detect a bit of self-esteem again! The choreography still kicked my ass mentally, but "holy shit...I think I'm going to make it after all"!
The fourth night I ran into one of the girls from class in the lobby of the hotel I was staying in. I had no idea that two of them was staying in the room right across the hall from me. I walked out at the same time with them the next day and realized I could've been taking the bus instead of the train, which would've been much easier and quicker. Finally, it's all coming together. Everyone is starting to bond a little bit, the drills are coming to me easier, and suddenly I don't want to leave...go figure!
So for any of you who have taken you first step-aerobics class, or started taking a dance class, or just hired a trainer and want to kill her already...don't give up, and know that "I feel for"!