As I mentioned before I am a competitive ballroom dancer or I ballroom dance competitively. I never know which to say because frankly I don’t like either because I don’t consider myself a competitive person. Competitive ballroom dancing is also called dancesport. Therein, for me, lies the problem. I am for all intents and purposes, a slug. I have a problem with my left knee which I learned about only after a car accident when I was in m my 20’s. I saw my family doctor about the pain and his reply was “Well we would have found it earlier if you had even been remotely athletic in your teens.”. Yes I remember this even twenty years on, this was also the same man who told me I was fat and he could have done with some exercise as well. I digress. I dutifully go to my weekly dance lessons which I video. I will then spend a couple of hours watching the video and taking notes. That’s the way I learn. I intend to practice daily, I really do but except for when I’m in the shower or cooking dinner that’s all it remains an intention and you know what they say about intentions and roads. I understand the need to practice on an intellectual level but it is so counter-intuitive to my learning style and personality. I’d much rather sit on the couch knit and watch Dancing with the Stars. I only watch the female pros dancing to see how they do things, doesn’t that count for something?
Anyway I like my new dance teacher. We have only been working together for a year and have only competed once. It isn’t out of lack of desire on my part there are basically two reasons; first, I need to do things like pay rent and eat. (I keep my house at 65 in the winter and 77 in the summer. I’d rather spend my money on dance lessons, if I’m cold I can always wear another layer of clothes); second from a dance standpoint my feet suck. My teacher and I agreed I wouldn’t compete again until my feet improve.
My lessons were actually the point of this post. As I said I like my teacher. We get on well. We work hard and the lessons fly by quickly. I have learned a lot in the past year. He doesn’t expect perfection because he says no one, himself included, is perfect. He is, however, full of it. I have decided that I will no longer refer to him as my teacher but as my coach. Teachers generally bring to mind someone who is nurturing, encouraging learners to stretch and grow – think here of your favorite elementary school teacher. Coaches are, in my mind, strong willed, determined and can be sometimes brutal in their methods. Like teachers they want those under their tutelage to excel, however most feel losing is not an option. How many sporting events have you seen where coaches are screaming from the sidelines. In my chosen sport my coach is much closer – often connected to me from chest to knees which eliminates the need for screaming. After my lesson tonight I have decided my coach is a sadist and I say that in the most loving way.
I have tried to remind him that I am nearly fifty, with a heart condition, bad knees, about 30 pounds over weight and recently prone to panic attacks. I try not to whine in my lessons just simply ‘suck it up’ as they say. Though I have been known to laugh hysterically and say ‘you want me to do what?” when he shows me a new part of a routine. When I think about my dancing I don’t see why I can’t do all the things a 20 year old who it a size 2 can do. I want to dance like that I really do, my body has a somewhat different opinion. I know there are a lot of people my age and older who are in fabulous physical shape and who tackle health issues far greater than mine. I am an introvert who tends to run out of steam easily. By the end of the day I want to do nothing more than go home and hide. I am pretty much zapped of all energy and if I have been dealing with a panic attack I’m drained. I try to eat well but I am also a stress eater and trust me when I’m stressed – carrots are the last thing I want. The other night my dinner consisted of roasted chicken, rice, gravy and baking powder biscuits nary a vegetable in sight. In my defense I had been eating carrots, celery, apples and bananas and nuts during the day. I also hate to do any other type of exercise besides dancing. The reality is the deck is not stacked in my favor. Now that I have made excuses, back to the matter at hand. I drive an hour each way to get to where I have my dance lessons. Tonight after the 45 minutes of grief I received it took every ounce of energy I had left to get out of the car. My legs were not in the mood to cooperate when I asked them to stand. Once I got everything into the house and laid out the things I needed for tomorrow morning I was barely able to get up the stairs to take a shower. While he is a sadist he at least warns me of what is to come with thoughtful questions like ‘how does your knee feel?’. I have learned by now when he gets like that I’m in for it, my response to him was – ‘it’s fine now but I’m thinking it won’t be so great in about 20 minutes’. He found that rather funny. Sometimes I feel like I’m in obedience school because I hear ‘sit’ every few seconds. Other times I feel like a misbehaving employee because I hear ‘what’s your job here?’. Tonight I’m not sure what to liken it to because I kept hearing ‘glue your arm”. As I wobbled down the hill to my car after my lesson I kept thinking to myself, I pay for this – am I crazy? I have to be a masochist to keep going back for this week after week. I was thinking about stopping at the local ice cream stand on the way home to reward myself for surviving but I guess the lesson did one thing – I changed my mind because I was too bloody tired to stop.
To my coach if you ever read this – you know I love you. Just remember I don’t spring for the Red Bulls because I want to have money to dance.