Saturday, 19 October 2013

Shut Up and Dance

(Aerosmith – well why not, I seem to spend enough post titles working through my music collection as it is. Image from 

For the past few months I've been searching about for another form of exercise I can take up. I always hoped to return to pole dancing for example, but I particularly wanted something much more cardio based – Pilates is wonderful for flexibility and core strength, but it’s not the sort of exercise that lends itself to raising the heart rate.

The pole dancing scenario is looking unlikely – the most promising centre holds a class too late in the week. It’s becoming apparent since I’ve returned to full time work that I have absolutely no hope of doing anything highly physical beyond about midway through Wednesday – I’m simply far too tired and could well cause the first instance of falling flat on your face off the pole because you’ve gone to sleep.

The other two centres I found are problematic too – one books on a monthly basis to guarantee space at the weekly class of your choice and that’s no good for me with my unreliable health, and the final option whilst holding classes earlier in the week sells it all wrong for the way I think about it.

To give some background, SwanseaUniversity has recently banned its pole dancing society because of “inextricable links to the idea of strip clubs and objectification”. So once again a narrow-minded few spoil something for the majority. Pole dancing is often illegitimised as a form of exercise because of attitudes like the one quoted above – but exercise is entirely what it is. It requires strength and skill to accomplish well and provides a challenging whole body workout which builds muscle tone, flexibility and fitness.

The objectification point is rendered utterly ridiculous when you consider that the vast majority of classes do not allow spectators – so who’s doing the objectifying exactly? The third centre sells the sport via the website as all about ”looking sexy”. Whilst I wouldn’t wish to belittle those who choose to participate for this fact – each to their own, after all – given my thoughts about the way pole dancing is portrayed I don’t feel I can really put my money into an enterprise which is for better or worse going along with the potentially damaging stereotype.

I then started to look around into other dance classes in the area and mostly came up against the same too late in the week issue. The couple which didn’t fall into that category are either a pain to get to because of lack of parking facilities (dear old historic Jorvik hasn’t really accepted the car yet) or they’re a long walk away.

I like a walk as much as the next person, but it brings me neatly round to the main point of this post. Walking to an exercise class of any kind involves going out in the cold.

Yes I know, it’s nearly winter and generally speaking cold happens in winter. What exactly was I expecting?

(The only Cold Winter Night which is acceptable to me any more!
Image from

The problem is that no matter how well I wrap up if I go out in the cold, I get cold. Cold equals pain, soreness and overwhelming tiredness. No matter what good the physical exercise of the class would do, it would on balance probably be undone by the getting there and back.

Back to exercise DVDs I go.

It struck me on coming to this conclusion that I had been subconsciously avoiding this pretty inevitable end. Why though? I already use one (or the basis of it) regularly, so what harm would using another do?

I find there’s something of an assumption in the realms of health and fitness that exercising in your own home is cheating and showing lack of committment. You’re not going to a gym or a fitness class, you’re not going out running in all weathers, you’re not using a personal trainer so that means you’re not trying.

Essentially, do it one way or you’re doing it wrong.

Anybody else getting a sensation of déjà vu from "I'm not like you and I don't wanna be..."?

What I realised was I’d basically been telling myself this for a long time. Sure, I could carry on doing Pilates at home, but if I was going to do something else then a rather insidious little voice kept repeating “Stop being lazy, go to a class, meet people, be sociable!”

I know. I have Fibromyalgia, work full time and walk there and back each day, do a workout three times a week and yet I was still telling myself I was being lazy. When you put that next to the poor souls afflicted with FM to the point they can’t always make it out of bed, I look and feel a prize idiot. As for the sociable point – my lack of any sort of grace and particular skills in the clumsy department don’t lend to me being particularly comfortable with the idea.

In truth I don’t think there is a “right” way with exercise, except the way that’s right for you and your circumstances. It’s the same with diet – we all know some things are healthier than others and that other things are bad for us, but in the realm of chronic ill health where you have a myriad of diet restrictions, energy deficiencies, overwhelming fatigue and in some cases excruciating pain, these clear lines become much hazier and more difficult to see.

For me, it’s much wiser to stay inside and do whatever exercise I can there, because that way I don’t have to go out and get cold and I can turn the central heating up to whatever hilariously high level I like whilst I do so. 

After looking around and much reading of various reviews, I decided on the Strictly Dance workouts.

(Strictly Come Dancing minus all the clichés, made-up stories and excruciating attempts to be funny… This has merit!
Image from

They’re all reviewed as being fast paced and difficult when you start out. My other half has just bought himself a tablet and is making full use of Instagram, so I can just about promise with certainty that when I inevitably knock myself out and end up in a heap on the floor there’ll be photographic evidence.

If I’m feeling generous, I may even share it with you all.

Wishing you all many spoons xxx


  1. Zumba. It's all the rage right now, and there was a small demonstration at a women's conference I was working. It was fun. But I know what you mean about pole dancing. I took stripping classes briefly years ago, and it was amazing. It takes SO much skill and muscle coordination to pole dance.

    On another note...

    Winter is coming.

    That's all I could think of when you were discussing winter and the cold. (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, in case you didn't catch that.)

  2. I've read them, so I did :D

    Zumba was the class I was looking at in particular, but they're all late in the week here sadly. Maybe something for me to look at in the summer xx