I have never been in what most folks would consider “good shape.” Yes, while I was in graduate school, I did judo–competitively. Yes, while I lived in New York City, I studied aikido at the New York Aikikai. Yes, I did reasonably well in both. Yes, I miss them both. But, yes, I had a flabby belly the whole while, and, yes, it has been some time since I did either of those things. I stopped judo in 2009, and I stopped aikido in 2013, and I have spent a damned lot of time sitting on my ass since.
I’ll not go into the litany of health and related issues my not exercising has promoted in me. Instead, I’ll note that I recently saw an advertisement at the dance school my daughter attends (yes, she’s still going, and she’s doing well, so far as I understand it), one promising low-cost exercise classes. I figured that the school’s head wouldn’t allow the ad to be posted if the class weren’t worth the time, so I told my wife about it, and we started attending; we’re still going.
I’ll not pretend it’s been easy. As I noted, I’ve been largely sedentary since 2013; I made a few attempts at getting to the gym and classes while I was teaching at Oklahoma State University, but trying to recover from the financial shock of the move, addressing the culture shock of moving from New York City to Stillwater, and becoming a father combined to quash those efforts entirely. (Not that I was particularly earnest in the attempts, admittedly.) Years of not moving nearly as much as I ought to have been left me rusty, and I can’t exactly put WD-40 into my elbows and knees.
Too, the class does a lot of dance–not ballroom dancing, with which I have some small experience, but the kind featured in no small number of exercise videos. I feel, well, silly when I attempt many of the moves the instructor–who is good, really, and who does a lot to work with those of us in the class who are inexpert in such things–has the class do. Many of them ask me to move in ways I find difficult to do, to exhibit flexibility that I do not have and have not trained. No few are suggestive, and I am generally the only man in the class; there is a fine line between paying attention to the instructor and my surroundings and not coming across as a leering creep. That I attend the class with my wife helps with that a bit, but I am still aware of being in a predominantly feminine space, and I try to be respectful, though I worry I am not successful.
For all that, though, I feel like I am getting something out of it. The exercises are becoming easier for me to do, and some of the complaints I have had about my body are less emphatic. (I’m not getting rid of sciatica anytime soon, but it does bother me less, for example.) Too, even though I flail about ineptly through the classes, I enjoy them; I appreciate being able to do them, not least because I do so with my wife and it makes her happy. That alone is worth the price of admission.