Midway through one of the rainiest months Portland has ever seen, I realized I needed to get out of my office. I’d been glued to the surf report website for several days, watching the poor little offshore buoys get throttled by unsurfable 30-foot swells. It had been this way for 15 days, with no end to the deluge in the foreseeable future.
What do you do when Mother Nature puts the kibosh on your outdoor sport of choice? If you’re like me, you accompany your spouse to her favorite indoor activity: The Divine Funk Hip-hop Boot Camp.
Make no mistake, at first I was completely skeptical of the whole idea. I dragged my feet to the private class”which takes place in a storage unit/studio with garage doors that open to the parking lot”imagining hip-hop dance to be nothing more than Jazzercise for the new millennium.
I was wrong.
I got there and it was all women (as I expected), but they weren’t in spandex and legwarmers. They were dressed in utilitarian baggy sweats and thermal t-shirts. And to quote Sir Mix-A-Lot, these Fondas “had motors in the backs of their Hondas,â€? kicking them into overdrive as soon as the music blasted over the studio speakers.
I could tell that Marcella Divine, the petite, sparkplug of an instructor, was starting things easy for her new recruit. But I still couldn’t keep up. Ten minutes into the session, I was panting like a dog, dripping with sweat and rubbing my sore legs”and we’d only just finished warming up. The most challenging part of the workout was facing a giant mirror that forces participants to watch themselves as they dance, do lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, and shadow box. To my horror, I looked at my face and noticed that I had a twisted overbite that screamed “lack of coordinationâ€? and tried to relax. Very humbling, indeed.
But 45 minutes into the two-hour class, something amazing happened: I was so tired that I stopped caring. If I fell out of step with the group, I didn’t quit or get frustrated. I let the bass-heavy beats take over and noticed how my body naturally flowed with the rhythm. I stopped watching my face and paid attention to my arms and legs in the mirror, making adjustments to my form. And then, after a grueling set of bicycle crunches that left me in the fetal position on my mat, it was all over.
The class kicked my ass ” literally ” and I found out just how much two days later. My butt constantly ached. But when my wife asked me to go again, I jumped (painfully) at the chance, telling her that if her goal was to look like J.Lo, mine was to surf like G.Lo (Gerry Lopez). With the heavy emphasis on squats and lunges, I’m looking forward to seeing how the sessions will improve my style.