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April's Great Dance Experiment! [Ballet, Capoeira, Latin and Breakdancing oh my!]

Posted Apr 03 2011 10:44pm

What I am about to do will likely really torque a certain segment of my readers. Believe me, I do not enjoy causing that little vein on your temple to throb as you resist the impulse to throttle me through my screen but I hope you will at least listen to all my reasons before you get all Kim Cattral on my bikini wax . (Sure she might have been drunk but in my mind that just makes it even awesomer!) For the month of April, I am taking what I've found works the absolute best for me so far - Rachel Cosgrove's program of heavy lifting and HIIT cardio - and am now doing exactly the opposite. April will find the Gym Buddies and I upping our cardio by a lot and going back to mostly bodyweight exercises as we arabesque like a ballerina, handstand-cartwheel like a capoeria artist, headspring (oh yes, really) like a breakdancer and discover whether or not our hips lie. (Sure, sure, Shakira's would pass a polygraph but after childbirthing I think mine might be more, um, given to false positives.)

I'm infuriating, I know. But here's why:

1. It's FUN. I love dancing. I used to be on a Lindy Hop (a type of swing dancing) team in college. Gym Buddy Megan grew up as a ballerina (the only girl out of 5 kids, she pretty much owed it to her mom). Gym Buddies Allison and Krista weren't dancers. (That I know of - Krista recently shocked us all at the Get Lucky race by telling us that years ago she saw a man jump 30 stories out of a high-rise, fall through a glass atrium and splat right in front of her office window. His liver, piece #14 according to the police, landed right in front of her. Seriously. Is this not the type of life-changing thing your best girlfriends should know about?) But either way, I've seen both of them move - there's a lot of dancy-dancy stuff in TurboKick - and they're pretty slick. Exercise should be fun!

2. Change is the only thing that works in the long run. If I've learned anything from 4.5 years of doing a new Experiment every month it's that change is the only constant. Your body will acclimate to even the best of programs so to keep growing you have to keep challenging it in new ways. Honestly I don't expect this to make a huge difference in my body composition or muscle tone but I think it will help us focus on skills like balance, flexibility and coordination that we normally don't work on.

3. We need a freaking rest. As I pointed out in the results for March's Great Yoga Experiment , it was intended to give us a break but we, per our usual, did not take one. Yeah we're dumb like that sometimes. But we're all really really tired and Gym Buddy Krista just had surgery so this will be a great way for us to ease up on our muscles a bit and give her a way to return slowly to her workouts.

4. We have the tutus and we need another reason to wear them. Allison and I have built up quite the collection of various tutus and frankly we need more occasions to pull them out at the gym. I think this is probably the most salient reason, don't you? In the same vein, it will also give me an excuse to watch more dance movies - yes I was the only person over 30 at the opening night of Step Up 3-D (in the aisles screaming and clapping).

Let me be clear though: this will be a workout. This book, Conditioning for Dance : Training for Peak Performance in all Dance Forms by Eric Franklin (while this is an affiliate link, I'm not recommending this book yet - so far I really like it but I want to work through it before I make any opinions!) provided the inspiration. Instead of just lifting weights or doing body weight exercises we will be doing exercises and moves designed to fit the particular type of dance we are studying that week. For instance, break dancing will have us doing a lot of push-ups, handstands and other upper-body intensive moves while ballet is mostly lower-body work on the barre. We've already test-run a few of the moves - like the TRX handstand walk-up - that are super intense. In addition we'll be doing dance cardio classes including Zumba, Hip Hop/break dancing, and ballet. (And so help me, if I can ever find a capoeira class around here we'll be there too!)

For our first week, we'll be doing ballet with the workout being based off of the Xtend Barre: Lean & Chiseled series by Andrea Rogers. It combines elements of ballet and Pilates to get us "lean and chiseled." If nothing else, I'm sure this will give us lots of fodder for embarrassing moments and hilarious pictures!

Any of dancers? Do you have a fave dance movie - any type! - that I need to see? When you find an exercise routine that really works for you do you stick with it forever or do you like to radically change things up?

PS. I am so so so amused that I punk'd so many of you on April Fool's Day! Although I'm a little worried that so many of you think I'm just nutty enough to believably drink my own pee . Oh I love you guys!

PPS. Thank you all SO much for your kind words of congratulation over the weekend - honestly I sat there reading all of them with tears just rolling down my face. I know I say this a lot but it's true: you guys have no idea how much your supportive blog posts/e-mails/comments/tweets/Facebook messages mean to me!!

I will leave you with the inimitable Napolean Dynamite

Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2011. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything for more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!
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