It’s a passion – Burlesque

Another friend, and another Groupon – this time for fitness classes at Oh My You’re Gorgeous in Mars, PA. The classes on the registry ranged from something as harmless as hula-hooping to something as risqué as pole dancing. My friend (alias Mercedes) and I settled on a Burlesque class, which – on the scale of innocent to indecent – seemed to fall somewhere safely in the middle. Of course, I might have revised its placement on that scale had I known that the American Burlesque, from the late 1800s – early 1900s, was basically a bunch of inappropriate comedy sketches and striptease acts.

Luckily, the class did not call for us to uncover our inner stripper. Rather, we were taught a dance routine, which we built on each week. All movements, even walking, were meant to be done in a slinky, sultry manner, and at first, Mercedes and I had a difficult time doing this without catching each other’s eye in the mirror and laughing hysterically. I, for one, could not take myself seriously as a vixen, and with each shimmy, hip shake, and hair toss, my 17 years of Catholic education came back to haunt me, reminding me of a magnet that I keep on my refrigerator:

I tried to ignore the discomfort with the moves and relax, but both Mercedes and I had our set backs. Failure to practice my hair toss before the second class resulted in public humiliation when the instructor pointed me out to the class and then gave me a C- for my efforts. Although Mercedes’ hair toss was top notch, improper placement of her hands in an accidental salute instead of a sexier pose resulted in the admonishment, “Remember – we’re not sailors, we’re sluts.” Mercedes and I both laughed at this, but I started to feel the disapproving eyes of the nun burning the back of my neck again.

Fitness Points: In a 50 minute workout, I burned about 115 calories (probably more, considering the calorie counter only registers when you are taking a step, and we were doing a lot of movement in stationery positions). Essentially, I only burned off my afternoon snack of fat free cottage cheese and yogurt. Maybe not so impressive. However, the routine holds other merits – just about all of the movements require the use of your core muscles. Other muscles getting some love, include: the gluts, obliques, calves, thighs, and hips. As we all know, when we build muscle, we are also building the ability to burn fat around the clock. So, the workout gets bonus points for that.

Other Points: They say that laughter reduces stress… and, Mercedes and I laughed. A lot. So, maybe our Burlesque experience was not extreme fitness, but it was a great way to put the stress of the day behind us and just have fun. And, I would definitely still consider it exercise: the instructor told us that we shouldn’t worry if strands of hair got stuck in our lip gloss, as guys apparently find this appealing, but I was more concerned with how appealing they would find it that my hair was getting caught, not in my lip gloss, but my sweat. I don’t imagine I’ll have to find out how any man feels about it, however. If ever I attempted a show, my performance would be more likely to elicit uncontrolled laughter than induce anything resembling desire.

Ultimately, by the third class, I had left my school-girl qualms behind and discovered that I was really enjoying myself. I think it happened when I stopped trying to take myself seriously and just embraced the ridiculousness of it. And, since the word “burlesque” actually derives from an Italian word for “joke, ridicule, or mockery,” I think I was right in the Burlesque spirit.

Although this may not be for everyone, there are other classes that might be up your alley, so I would still recommend checking out Oh My You’re Gorgeous. You’ll get schooled by the highly certified and highly entertaining instructor Steph who will combine a little fun and fitness in one sexy package. Just be sure to practice your hair toss when she tells you to… and, leave the nuns at home.

~Unathletic Angela