Thursday, 20 May 2010

Reunited With An Old Enemy

I’m not one for pastel colours but I like my sports mixed. Bastardised blended “sports” are the way forward. Aside from swimming, forget straightforward aerobics, running, tennis, circuit training…and think fusing two “disciplines”. This month has been a month of vouchers again so my body has been subjected to a sudden excessive burst of exercise.

On several occasions, I self-consciously sneaked up to the reception desk at "Ironmonger Row Baths" and swiped copies of the gym group’s free magazine in order to utilise the back cover vouchers to the max. Nearly three weeks later and my fitness frenzy is unfortunately coming to an end as the date on the remaining vouchers has nearly expired.

Last time I put my body through a sudden bout of intensive exercise, I sampled aqua aerobics, pilates and Iyengar yoga. This time, I decided to try out some of the bizarre combination activities like reggae aerobics (as it sounds), street dance (incorporates hip hop and funk dance moves set to R & B and hip hop from the 70s, 90s and present day), boxercise (a mixture of boxing, as the name suggests, with circuit training and aerobics moves) and soca aerobics (nothing to do with football as I had at first suspected but moves set to Calypso music fused with elements of soul).

While I enjoyed all four activities, boxercise flew by the fastest; street dance wasn’t as terrifying as I has imagined and had me silently chuckling to myself; reggae aerobics left me aching for days afterwards and soca aerobics was the most fun but turned me into a glistening beetroot. All four highlighted my appalling lack of coordination and reminded me of my contempt for that well known aerobic dance move “the grapevine”.

I had a phase during my A’levels where Jane Fonda and the cabbage soup diet ruled my life. Prancing around the front room on a daily basis, despite doing the same work-out repeatedly, I could never quite grasp the footwork of “the grapevine” or understand its purpose – doing the move just felt like I was parading around looking stupid rather than actually sweating it out.

For years now, I have managed to avoid being reunited with the dreaded “grapevine” until this recent attack of voucher madness. It fascinates me that in every class “the grapevine” seems to be this legendary move that needs no introduction or explaining. I mean, where the hell did it come from and why the name?

In true Leo style I decided to do a little research and unsurprisingly found very little – after all everyone knows what it is so why write about it? One website tracing dance steps through the ages, amusingly ascribed the move to my ex-work-out hero, Jane ( Good old Wikipedia, describes it as “the name of a dance figure, which may look different in various ballroom, club, and folk dances, but shares a common appearance: it includes side steps and steps across the support foot” and is used in the Foxtrot, Polka, Electric Slide and Hustle, suggesting it has much older routes in the dance hall rather than the gym. Various links did at least explain that its purpose is more to link moves and keep limbs moving than produce an instant burn. As for the name, I can only assume the shape of the move has some resemblance to the intertwining of grape vines.

For those who haven’t experienced the joys of “grapevine”, teaches you how and stomps on my already deflated ego misleadingly describing it as a “moderately easy” move “easily mastered in a few sessions”. Apparently “once you get the hang of the grapevine it can become very addictive.” Not an addiction I’ve ever suffered from!

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