Exercising never made me happy and I can’t say I had the best role models for that growing up.
I grew up in the suburbs of Philly during the 80’s. “Working out” was how many times you lifted a to your mouth or how many times you pounded out pizza dough. Living in California for as long as I have, it becomes a part of your daily life (or else you get kicked out of the state… Nah, I’m kidding… Sort of), but it still didn’t make me happy.
Friends and experts on the Internet told me that I needed to find something that I liked. So I tried lots of things like running, hiking, swimming, belly dancing, cardio machines, Pilates, Yoga, Salsa, and even walking.
I learned that I hated to run, but I liked everything else, just not enough to develop into a routine. I even poured money into a personal trainer and all I got out of it was a bruised shoulder on my first session. I never went back.
I knew that I had to keep trying. Exercising made me feel good, helped with my depression and lessened my bouts with insomnia, but the lure of sitting on the couch and watching hours of TV after a really long work day was strong…
One thing I’ve always loved was dancing, but we are talking about “Saturday night at the club with a drink in hand,” kind of dancing. I was always so self-conscious about my body and the way I moved. It didn’t help that dancing was one of the things that my Ex used to berate me about. So for years, every time I got on the dance floor, I was horribly self-conscious and uncomfortable.
Last year, after months of nagging, a friend convinced me to go with her to a UJam class at the local gym. I was apprehensive. Years ago I attempted to take a beginners hip hop class, but the instructor went to fast for me and even the students seemed to be more “advanced” than “beginning.” I ended up getting too frustrated and never went back.
I was hooked from the first class. So what is UJam? It’s fun, it’s energetic, it’s dance fitness with attitude. I found the choreography easy to pick up, the instructors to be supportive and the energy to be amazing. I found myself going more often and the more I went, the more I learned the choreography. The more I learned the choreography, the more I loved it. This was definitely starting to turn into something.
A few months later, I gathered a few girls together for my birthday and we went out dancing. To my surprise, I was no longer self-conscious. I had swag! I had confidence! I didn’t give a flying f**k what anyone thought of me! Most importantly, I realized that I had moves all along. I just couldn’t see it through the fog of my insecurity and abuse.
I continued going to the classes with more fervor. I began to laugh at my mistakes and my clumsy feet. I began to pick up routines faster easier and now, instead of hiding in the back of the class, I’m close to the front.
What’s even more amazing is that it’s been almost a year and I’m still doing it at least 2-3 times a week. This makes this type of exercise, THE ONE that has stuck with me for the longest and I can’t wait to do it again. If my body could handle it I would probably do it every day, but this body of mine gets beat up pretty easily. Who knows, maybe things will change in the next few months…
I am forever thankful to my friend for her nagging and to the creators of UJam for creating something so easy, fun and accessible.