This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for my Banana Skirt and City Movement Company fam, especially Byron, Marissa, Nikki, Matia, Tiana, Bri, Carli, Chelsea and Denise ❤️
It’s been a long time (too long!) since I last wrote about fitness on the blog. Part of me feels guilty about it, which is (somewhat) a good thing—it’s reminded me that I need to recommit myself to that area of content, starting now.
And that’s why I’m ecstatic to write about a new passion of mine that’s made me physically, mentally and emotionally stronger: dance.
I wrote a post last year about my very first class with Banana Skirt Productions, which is a dance fitness studio here in New York City. Well in February, I purchased the Perfect 10 Subscription, which includes 10 classes a month (plus a complimentary 2-hour workshop or master class) for $99. I didn’t mind the financial investment, because I knew it was ultimately an investment in my health. Plus, I finally found a workout that I didn’t dread!
Aside from growing up Irish dancing with my sisters (yes, with the curly wigs, competition dresses, etc.), and participating in Airbands for Greek Week, I have zero dance experience. I like that no Banana Skirt class is ever centered around getting the steps right—it’s only about having fun, getting a good sweat in and channeling our inner pop star for the quick hour that we’re there.
[NOTE: I also take the Ratchet Fitness classes, which combine dance and HIIT under cool, clubby lights… highly, highly recommend! Click here to learn more about the other class formats offered at BSP]
In nine months, I’ve learned choreography from the music videos of Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and many other artists, as well as choreography created by the talented instructors themselves. And speaking of the instructors, they’re incredibly kind, patient, hilarious (I don’t think I’ve gone a single class without laughing), and encouraging. If it weren’t for them—and of course the wonderful founder of BSP, Akinah Rahmaan—there’s no way I’d be commuting 45 minutes each way to Pearl Studios, two to four days a week. And there’s no way I’d be the same person I am today.
I’m a perfectionist to a fault, and that’s seriously messed with my self-esteem, self-worth and body image over the years. Fortunately, dance has helped me work through those issues in a way that traditional group fitness classes couldn’t. First and foremost, I learned pretty quickly that if you want to be good at dancing (especially when there’s sassy, sexy choreography), you have to be comfortable with your body. Otherwise, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb! It’s definitely easier said than done with a wall-length mirror in front of you, but there’s no way around it.
To me, the studio is like this zen sanctuary. When I walk in, all my worries melt away. My mind doesn’t have the capacity to focus on anything else but the moves and the music. My phone is tucked away in my tote bag, so I don’t have to worry about any texts, calls or notifications for a whole hour!
Dance has also taught me the importance of moving forward when I mess up. It’s frustrating for sure, but I take comfort in knowing (and seeing) that it happens to everyone, even the instructors sometimes! Plus in the Banana Skirt studio, we live by the motto “When in doubt, twerk it out!” (…for real though, it’s true). When we do our final performance for the camera at the end of class, there are no do-overs. There’s no restarting the music because one person fudged the head roll at the top of the chorus. Some days you nail it, others you don’t. But did I burn hundreds of calories? Yes. Did I have fun? Duh. Did I just grow a little bit stronger and get a little bit better? HECK YEAH.
Let’s take it up a notch…
Of course I’m always challenged at BSP, but the overachiever in me couldn’t resist when I came across City Movement Company. As its mission states, “[CMC] offers high-caliber, low-pressure dance classes for adults in the heart of New York City.” Even though I felt FAR from high-caliber, I decided to DM the founder, Marissa (who happens to be one of my favorite Banana Skirt instructors) about the upcoming street jazz class. I was terrified that I would suck and it would be impossible to keep up, but she convinced me to sign up and I’m so glad I did!
I busted my butt the whole 75 minutes to keep up with the other dancers. My cheeks burned pink when it was my group’s turn to perform at the front. Yet by the end, I was so incredibly proud of myself. Something about it felt rich and right—so I signed up for another CMC class last week! This time it was hip hop, and luckily I had quite a few other Banana Skirt familiar faces by my side. The choreography was much more challenging and quick than the street jazz class, but we pulled through together 🙂
So what’s the big point here?
I promise I’m not writing about all this to turn you into a dancer (although that would be quite lovely!!)
I just want to prove that it’s never too late and you’re never too old to pursue a new passion. Do it. Life is too short, and we fill too much of it with the words “one day.”
To be honest, I believe we improve the most when we’re surrounded by others who are a level or two (or even three) above us. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not going to be a rock star right away—I know that sounds like too much of a no-brainer to even mention, but in this world of instant gratification, we have a tendency to give up easily. That being said, there’s also a difference between giving up because we aren’t interested, and giving up because we’re frustrated with having to put in work in to see results. And last but not least, don’t be afraid to admit to those around you that you’re new or a little nervous—chances are you’ll receive extra support and encouragement, which will help you succeed even more 😉
Thinking about pursuing a new activity? Have any questions about today’s post? Can’t resist gushing about your favorite fitness class or gym? Drop a comment below!