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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

New Experience Challenge Week 30: This Takes a Sudden Turn

After 30 weeks of this challenge, I'm really starting to run out of ideas. Everything I can come up with I've either done before, isn't that exciting or requires time I don't currently have (my friend's bugging me to go skydiving with him and I still haven't used that voucher for the GROB flight). So on Sunday I found myself searching for something to do - something to fill in this week until I can knock over some of the things I've got planned for the future. You know what the best idea is that I could come up with? Walking home from work.

Ok, there's a little more to it than that. This particular day I was working in Melrose Park - a suburb on the exact opposite side of the city to where I live. The plan would be to walk basically the width of Adelaide in one go, a trip that would span almost 20km and take up four hours. I could take my camera and see what great shots I'd get along the way. I could take detours through parks or into buildings I find interesting. It might even turn into one of those stories you hear about people who have tried ridiculous stunts and then come out of it enlightened and with an overarching lesson learned. Or it could just be a four-hour walk. We'd see.

I emptied out my backpack to make it lighter and make room for a change of clothes. I could only take the stuff I would need. Let's see... I don't need most of these notebooks... I'll keep my headphones, I could listen to some music on the way. And I'll keep my portable charger, because I might just be playing with my phone the whole time. Can't afford to have it go flat on me.

Deodorant? Definitely stays. Old Game Boy Advance? How embarrassing, who still plays a Game Boy Advance? (Alright, I do). A harmonica? Well, I guess you'll never know when you need a harmonica. The harmonica stayed.

I went downstairs where Mum was finishing up breakfast.
'Hey Mum, are you able to drive me to work today?'
'I plan to walk home from there tonight.'
'But that's on the other side of the city!'
'That's the point!'
'Didn't you already do something like that with Dimi?'
'I, um...' She was right. A few years ago I was watching a preseason footy game with one of my best mates Dimi, and we decided to walk back to his house from the game. That was a trip from West Lakes to Burnside - a trip even longer than the one I was planning and certainly more exciting since there was a second person.

'Is there something else you can do? Can you take a class in something?'
'I thought of that. But I'm not sure what class I can take just once on a Sunday night at such short notice.'
'What other nights are you free?'
'Just Tuesday. And the week starts on Wednesday, so it has to be done before then.'
'Come and do Zumba with me!'

I stared at her. I could tell she was serious. She had an excited glint in her eye at the thought of spending some quality time with the son she never sees. Could I really bring myself to do a Zumba class? With my mother? I guess this is why I started this challenge...

'Alright. I'll do a Zumba class with you.'
'Yay!!!' she clapped. It's 7:30 on Tuesday. Get excited!'

It was a rush to get there on time. I had to catch the bus home from Fresh to get changed and head over to a mysterious church in Leabrook. I was stuck to find something to wear. My footy umpiring training top was in the wash. So were the shorts I use for training and for game day. I had to go hamper fishing to grab my shorts and I grabbed a random white shirt and ran out the door in a panic.

I met Mum at the church, where there were three cars in the carpark.
'Do people actually turn up?' I asked.
'Yeah, they always turn up right at the start time. Let's go in.'
'Hang on, just let me tie my shoes. I didn't think I had time for that.'

Inside the church, there were a few very good-looking girls getting ready and a raised stage with a Zumba poster on it. It said "Welcome to Zumba Tone, with dance instructor Charli." and there was a model on the poster who was mid-jump with her hair flying elegantly in all directions. Charli. What an appropriate name. It sounds bubbly. New-agey. Very Zumba. I took a look around and I was shocked to discover that the model on the poster was Charli. She was there at the bottom of the stage doing some stretches.

I put my bag down and took up a space in the middle of the floor.
'You have to pay,' said Mum.
'Oh right, drag me along on then hook me with a few at the last minute? Typical.'
'It's just twelve bucks, you'll get over it.'

I went up to Charli and gave her my money.
'You're a new face, have you done Zumba before?' she asked.
'Nope. First time.'
'Okay, well you have to grab a pair of these shake weights. You'll need them later. These ones are the heavy ones. These are a bit lighter. Lighter again and these are a nice, easy light one.'
'Which one would you suggest for a first timer?'
She sized me up and handed me the heaviest ones.
'I bet you can handle these,' she said with a wink.

I smiled and went back to my spot and the class began. Now, because I couldn't take any photos during the class, I decided to recreate some of the moves for you when I got home. These were some of the positions I found myself in throughout the night.

It took me a second to adjust to each movement and occasionally I would get it completely wrong. I would turn around and face the back of the room and realize everyone else was staring at me, facing the right way. Twice, Charli had to call out "other way!" from the stage as I stepped and clapped in a different direction to everyone else. But by the time the warmup and the first exercise were done, I had it downpat. I didn't want to crawl into a hole and die from embarrassment.

Then, of course, things got harder. The next exercise involved twerking. Have you ever seen a guy twerk? It's not pretty. And the shimmying? I was back to being deathly embarrassed.

I was surprised to find myself working up a sweat. I didn't think I'd be working too hard. But then... Shit went down. A new song started and half the people at the class got down on the floor while the rest of them stood. I didn't know what to do, but Charli locked eyes with me and pointed to the ground. The people on the ground were holding themselves in a push-up position and jogging on the spot. I started trying to do it... And it burned like Haydes.

I finished the first set and got up with a startled look on my face. Charli grinned and kept leading the dance. Down for another set and it was getting no easier. I was puffing and going red, and the people in my immediate vicinity were starting to look over. By the time I got to the third set, Charli had jumped off the stage and come down to join me.
'That's it! Push it! Now double time!!' And she doubled her speed. I swore and tried to speed up, but I couldn't get my legs back fast enough to do it properly, so I almost ended up doing a somersault.

The song finished and I collapsed in a heap. Charli congratulated me and returned to the stage. From there we got out some mats and did some floor exercises. But after that last one, I was stuffed. Each rotation of my leg made me grimace and every side push-up made me burn.

Finally, we cooled down with some sit-ups. But I was gone. When we were told to lift our legs up in the air and keep doing them, I tried it for ten seconds and then collapsed. I rested for a while, then I thought "No, I'm not going to let this beat me." I lifted up my legs again, tried one sit-up and collapsed. Not going to happen.

We all finished up and Charli came around to give me a high five. Mum looked over impressed.
'Man, you worked hard.'
'Did I? I was just doing the exercises.'
'Yeah, but you were doing them harder than everyone else. That's why she came over and joined you.'
'Well I, um... I try.'

I tried to get up and fell straight back down again. Others came up to say hi, including the one other male in the building. They welcomed me and asked me if I would be back.

Good question. I don't know if I'll be back for another Zumba class... But I bet I could go for some private lessons with Charli.


  1. Ahhh, well... I would practice twerking all week if I were you... Maybe you and Charli can re-enact Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMAs during a private Zumba class.

  2. Congratulations on giving it a real go! If the good-looking girls were also impressed you should definitely come back!

    1. They've seen me in a very vulnerable state now.

  3. Yeah this made me laugh. I don't know how your mum kept a straight face through that class :-) :-)


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