For almost 22 years now it has been my habit to don workout gear, make the 5 minute drive to our local recreation center and dance to pop music for an hour. The program is called Jazzercise, and while I have also taken Yoga classes and done other forms of exercise over the years, this is the one program I stick with and look forward to. My personality, interests and tastes in music are more well-suited, I have often thought, to a low key Yoga program, so why this tenacity to Jazzercise? I think there is something about moving to a beat, learning routines and dancing with abandon that is just plain fun. To have that enjoyment also bring with it flexibility, strength and numerous health benefits is just icing on the cake.
But there is something else that keeps me trudging to the gym and dancing my little heart out four days a week, and that is my fellow dancers. They range in age from their early twenties to their seventies and eighties. They are all shapes and sizes and colors and temperaments. I have danced alongside teachers, real estate agents, housewives,accountants, flight attendants, clerks, students, lawyers, an opera singer, a county judge, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, a free lance writer, a local city councilwoman and a television news reporter. They are from all walks of life, span all spectrums of society. They are moms, wives, widows, kids, and grandparents. Some have immigrated from other countries or moved here from other areas of the country. But on the gym floor we are all, simply, dancers. Some dance with a high amount of energy, some keep it slow and smooth, some are dancing to the beat and others are, well, a bit more rhythm challenged. Some of us, myself included, are gradually slowing down as we get older. There is a beautiful woman in her eighties who has been coming to class for many, many years. She now moves gingerly, carefully, as she graciously accommodates the body changes that have come with age. She returned to class just one week after her husband of sixty years passed away and continues to dance as life changes in ways that sometimes send the rest of us scurrying to the sidelines; she is truly an inspiration and it is a blessing to know her.
At Jazzercise, each and every woman has her story, her history, her way of being in the world. Each one has her own distinctly beautiful attributes. Each one brings different dreams to the floor, her own unique outlook and perspective. Jazzercise class, to me, is a fascinating microcosm of this wondrous world we live in-- with all its wide ranging diversity and disparate cultures and peoples. Just as in class, we are all dancers on the same floor, so to speak, all inhabitants of this beautiful, precious planet, and it is our duty, our obligation, our honor to dance together joyfully to the music of life.