Part Two of: Health and fitness, diet and nutrition, solitude and occasional melancholy…and a really nice pair of socks

December 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm (Dance, Fitness, Mind/body)

[Click here for Part One.]

To begin with, I never expected anything good to come of my Type Two Diabetes diagnosis. Surprisingly, something did – or rather two, things. I mentioned in Part the First of this disquisition that I lost 37 pounds and kept it off. That’s the first good outcome, and I firmly believe that I’ve kept that weight off because I started – well, I discovered Zumba.

Actually, I began with basic aerobics. I was advised to get regular exercise as a way of keeping my blood sugar low, increasing bone density, and keeping both blood pressure and cholesterol at an acceptable level.. It’s done all that, and more. It has introduced me to a whole new social circle. It has made me feel much better, both physically and emotionally.

Zumba is just one of three types of fitness classes that I now attend regularly. I still go to aerobics, and I’ve also been going to Body Vive for quite some time now. Body Vive differs from the other two in that it is pre-choreographed and doesn’t depend quite so much on the instructor’s inventiveness as do the other two. But the choreography changes with each new “release,” an event that happens every three months. Body Vive is distinguished by its use of the ball, and of resistance bands rather than free weights.

At this point, body vive is not as well known as Zumba and aerobics. I don’t know why; I think it’s a terrific workout and lots of fun.

Zumba in particular has acquired so much renown that it does not need me to further elaborate on its virtues. It began as a Latin dance craze, but in the sessions I intend, other kinds of music have been worked into the routines: classic rock, Middle Eastern (including a rousing version of “Hava Nagila,” which I can’t resist singing along with, as per my ancient past), and even Indian. To wit, this captivating number called “Maahi Ve:”

(Be assured – That is NOT our dance routine!)

The original Zumba has now spawned several different iterations of itself. Click here for an enumeration of them. I’m currently doing Zumba Gold, mainly because basic Zumba proved a bit too rigorous for me. I also very much enjoy Zumba Toning:

I’ve had trouble finding a video version that approximates what I’ve been doing in the Zumba sessions I attend. Most of the videos are populated with shapely young women sporting bare midriffs, gorgeous hair, and high wattage smiles.

This one is closest to the reality I’m familiar with:

My Zumba classes have a rather remarkable mix of ages. We have a fair number of young women, some of whom are already in great shape and others who are clearly working toward that goal. (And some who have had training in dance; they’re invariably a pleasure to watch.)  A goodly number of us are in our sixties; some are in their seventies, still moving well and possessed of the necessary agility. Quite a  few of us have bonded loosely into a sort of community. We figure we’re all together in this fight to stay healthy.

I attend two different facilities for these classes. In one of them, there’s a day care for small children located just down the hall. When the little ones are collected by a parent and they go by the studio where we’re exercising, they invariably pull up short, utterly fascinated by our gyrations. It always gives us a lift and a laugh, to see their little faces pressed against the windows.

Music is a big component of these fitness classes. Its most important attribute is the beat. Admittedly, I don’t care for some of the selections, but actually I like more of it than I thought I would. I’ve enjoyed being introduced to exotic items like “Maahi Ve” (see above). And lately there have been several old favorites that it’s been a pleasure to revisit:

Here, I just have to say to my son Ben: Yes, you were right – I finally “get” this song. But I never needed convincing about The Eagles:

And I’ve long loved “Don’t Stop Believing,” sung by Steve Perry and  Journey:

One of the most important life lessons I’ve learned from my embrace of this activity is that there really is a close connection between mind and body. You’ve got to be attentive to the instructor’s directions, and you’ve got to work hard to make your body do what he or she asks you to do. To my delight, I discovered that I got better at this as the years passed.

Where instructors are concerned, I feel deeply fortunate Mine are generous, enthusiastic, warm, and caring. Deb, Deborah, Vicky, Marie, Megan, George, and Jen – Thank you for making something I thought would be an onerous chore into an activity I look forward to each week. And finally a special thanks to Zumba goddess Robin, who brought each of us socks for Christmas!

(I was unable to resist demonstrating my sock ball making technique to anyone who was interested. Their numbers were small, but they were appreciative of this neat little trick, taught to me many years ago by my sainted mother, who would do anything to make laundry sorting go faster.) 

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The transcendent beauty of dance

September 30, 2009 at 2:15 am (Dance, Performing arts)

I spend a great deal of time on YouTube, and I thought that from time to time, I would share some of my favorite videos.

For many years I have loved classical ballet. This video captures the magic created by some of that art’s greatest performers. The music is the Adagio from Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian.

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Arts and artists of Russia

April 6, 2009 at 8:37 pm (Dance, Music, Russophilia)

Here is a link to a performance of the ballet “Lieutenant Kije” featuring the great Vladimir Vasiliev, with music by Prokofiev.  Sergei Prokofiev is a composer whose music Ron and I deeply love. His Romeo and Juliet is, for us at least, unsurpassed in the classical ballet repertoire.  Click here to see Vasiliev as Romeo and Ekaterina Maximova as Juliet.


Evgenai Obraztsova as Juliet and Andrian Fadeyev as Romeo

Evgenia Obraztsova as Juliet and Andrian Fadeyev as Romeo

We saw these two several years ago in the Kirov production of Romeo and Juliet at the Kennedy Center. It was – well, there are no adjectives sufficient to describe it. One, possibly: transcendent.

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev  1891-1953

Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev 1891-1953


Here, the Russian Red Army Dance Ensemble (a component of the Alexandrov Ensemble) proves that Russian soldiers just wanna have fun! (Who knew??) Be sure to watch this video all the way through – you’ll see some astounding feats of athleticism:

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