For rather sophisticated creatures, we humans have certainly learned how to box ourselves in, while seemingly fulfilling every self-fulfilling prophecy that crosses our brainwaves. We're experts at limiting ourselves, withholding our own potential, and giving up our goals before we've even given ourselves a fighting chance to succeed. This is especially true when it comes to fitness.
Why else do you think that the number of Americans considered obese continues to rise? Waistlines grow because cynicism is easy, indifference has gone mainstream, failed resolutions are expected, and when all else fails, there's comfort food to keep our bodies full (when our minds are elsewhere --floating on clouds and hoping for better days, better lives.)
More and more we live vicariously through other people's lives when we could be taking control of our own. Sure, there's always another excuse right around the corner, but if there's anything that should become a first-rate priority, it's our own health. Most people would agree that their health is important to them, yet many people still don't seek to make fitness part of their lives.
Why is that? For one, there's a perception that fitness isn't fun. Even hard-core fitness freaks sometimes don't get it. They think fitness is working outs a chore or another task on their "to-do" list of life. For many of us, fitness is a gerbil run on the never-ending conveyor belt of a treadmill, cycling sessions to nowhere, and stairmasters ascending to our personal stairway to hell. In other words, to most people, fitness equals the gym, and like the P.E. classes of yesteryear, gyms generally aren't considered exactly fun. Some people guilted into gym membership avoid actually going-- even as they see the monthly dues draining their bank accounts.
It doesn't have to be that way. To make fitness a way of life, we have to change our perspective, mix things up, and give our bodies something to look forward to-- rather than just another thing to dread.
It's not about punishing your body into compliance with the fitness goals you have in your head. Just as many of us stick with careers or dead-end jobs that leave us listless, many of us just settle for boring, uninspiring workouts that we secretly hope to avoid. However, making fitness a lifelong pursuit (and ultimate achievement) is more about discovery. Find something you love and the fitness will follow.
These days, with the success of shows like Dancing With The Stars, many people have discovered (or re-discovered) dance as a fun, viable option to get (and keep ) them fit.
Dance is not just for competitors or leotard-clad professionals. Think it's not for you? Think again. The variety of dance forms is hard to surpass. Not into ballet? Try jazz. Think dance is just for the females among us? Take a shot at hip-hop, capoeira, or funk. As the popularity of dancing continues to grow, people are traipsing onto the dance floor in droves.
Say that dancing is completely new to you or you want to mix-up your pavement-pounding workouts with something a little more, well, FUN. The best place to start is to check out the local dance studios or colleges in your community. See what's offered and drop-in on a class. Unlike gyms, most dance studios don't have long-term contracts. This gives you the opportunity to leisurely discover the type of dancer you are, while replenishing your gym-depleted bank account.
As a hotbed for entertainment, Los Angeles has a HUGE number of dance studios dotted across the city. Don't be intimidated. Along with training professional dancers, most places offer dance classes for beginners. Even some of the larger studios, like Millennium Dance Complex and The Athletic Garage, that attract four-star choreographers and instructors offer classes that cater both to professional as well as non-professional dancers.
"When choosing a healthy lifestyle, we want people to have fun doing it," says Sandy Portaro, owner of the Athletic Garage in Pasadena.
"We offer fun, exciting, non-competitive dance and fitness classes for everyone," she continues. "Everything from hip-hop, jazz, tango, and pilates to ballet, funk, and salsa, just choose your style and put on those dancing shoes!"
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For excellent dance instruction in the San Fernando Valley, check out:
THE ATHLETIC GARAGE “ Pasadena CA www.athletic-garage.com
MILLENNIUM DANCE COMPLEX â€“ North Hollywood CA www.millenniumdancecomplex.com
DEBBIE REYNOLDS DANCE STUDIO www.drdancestudio.com
To find a local dance studio in other areas of Los Angeles, go to www.superpages.com
*Photo Credit: Richard Orme Flinn