I feel so productive right now. Chopped up some carrots and green beans and added them to the Instant Pot with chicken and some curry and dinner is slow cooking away. Went out to the gym and did a lot of leg and core. Now I’m back with no bills to be paid and no more adult responsibilities for the day. Just time to play and write some stuff down.
No, I’m not going to turn this into a commercial for the Instant Pot. I will say that in my experience it is a much better slow cooker than a Crock Pot. Think it manages to keep the heat more consistent. And, after yesterday’s disaster, I wanted to make it clear that I do have some skills. Although maybe it really isn’t cooking if you let the pot do all the work.
I did get to chop some stuff up though. Why do I love this? I don’t know. I find it somewhat therapeutic to take a bunch of vegetables and chop them into little pieces. OK, I just did a quick internet search and there were a couple of articles on this so maybe it isn’t that weird.
My gym has three main rooms for open exercise. They run classes in two other rooms. The first one is huge and has two rows of treadmills and stair climbers and several machines to exercise specific parts. It also has the large free weight area which is were many of the guys end up. A second room has a few more treadmills and bikes. The third room has a few machines and few free weights (kettle bells and dumb bells) but it has a large floor mat. It is also where they have a small TRX set up.
I prefer the third room. When I was working with trainers back at the work gym, we did a lot of stuff with the TRX so it is what I’m used to. Now the gym at work spent a boatload of money creating this room with some kind of metal structure where they could anchor a lot of things to. By contrast, this new gym is kind of like what is shown above. Stashed away on a lonely wall, there are just a couple of these TRX things. They look forgotten like it was added as an afterthought.
Anyway, they run a “morning muscle” class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 to 8:45 in this room. It is a class designed for people who really haven’t worked out before so I think they prefer to be away from the from the more buff types banging iron in the big room. It just means I have to wait a little bit to get back to do the things I prefer to do with the TRX or on the floor mat. Can’t really drop and do a plank in the middle of the main room. Well you could, but you’d risk having something dropped on you.
And you probably don’t care much about my exercise preferences but I just felt like rambling a bit.
The next part is going to be all about Ballroom so if you aren’t interested in my dance life, you are free to stop reading here.
I’m on a good streak with coaches and that continued last night. Being someone who doesn’t have a good schedule, I totally forgot that (a) we had a coach in last night and (b) that I had signed up for a lesson. The good thing was that the coaching lesson was the second lesson of the night so JoNY and I could work up a plan in the first lesson.
A minor complaint here. I know that this is my dance journey and I need to be in the lead. But it is a partnership so sometimes it would be nice to think that JoNY is more involved. All of my other instructors would be more active in getting me to sign up for coaching lessons and work out a plan in advance. JoNY does that from time to time but not consistently. OK, complaint over.
We settled on Swing for a couple of reasons. First, we haven’t worked with anyone on Swing. Secondly, the Silver 3 steps still feel a little rough. Now this is in part because JoNY is still learning things as well. The pattern is that OwnerGuy shows us the steps and works them into the amalgamation but then leaves JoNY for the day to day work of getting them polished up. A couple of problems with that. One is that there are a lot of little subtle points and when you get the first introductory lesson, there isn’t enough time to go over all of them. The second is that JoNY isn’t really experienced enough to know how to fix things that go off track.
So we run through the Swing and talk about the three Silver 3 steps and where we need help. Here’s what was great about last night. In every case, it was a relatively small tweak that was needed. It was something I could easily pick up and it just make a huge difference. That builds your confidence a lot because when you can make big advances with small chances, it says you weren’t that far away in the first place.
To be fair, these may in fact be things that OwnerGuy mentioned but when you only get one lesson, it is easy to forget. Then you spend time doing the step “wrong” and that gets into muscle memory and it must be extracted. I do know two things that she changes which were different from how OwnerGuy showed us but I can’t say with confidence that these were all new changes. Maybe just reminders but that’s also a good reason to have another set of eyes looking at you.
The first step was a whip and arm catch where I’m supposed to hook her left arm with my right and we were failing to do that smoothly. Easy fix. I bring her in like a normal whip and get my right arm around her and then just slide it down to hook her left arm. Oh and then there is a part after I do that where she wanted me to take my two steps kind of away from JoNY to create tension and set up the momentum for the next part. Easily done.
We do a banana split later which ideally would have both arms up over our heads and then out into a T. Well there is a height difference which made that uncomfortable for both of us. She says it is fine to fake it and just drop one arm because you only need one to be connected to lead the next step. We also have this part where she is behind me while we do some shuffles. Again, we were taught to be connected with both arms. She said to just drop one because it will be more comfortable for both of us and make the transition in and out easier.
There were a couple of themes to the night. As a leader, one of the first things they drum into you is to not push and pull the lady with your arms. The problem for me is that I’ve got that in my head and so my leads are there but maybe not as aggressive as they need to be. She showed me a couple of places where I needed to do that. It isn’t pushing or pulling because you set it up with weight changes and body movements but it is more “force” than I’m used to providing. This is not the first time I’ve had a coach tell me this so it is something I need to get used to.
Oh and part of the lesson was another thing that could only happen at a dance studio. She starts in talking about my leads and then goes off saying I must be a nice guy. But that sometimes you can’t be “nice” on the dance floor. Like I was being too neat and polished all the time. She tells me that she actually messed up the hair of one of her students and then she does that to me. Now my hair has a mind of its own and wasn’t all neatly combed down but you aren’t going to find many places where a woman you’ve just met is fine with messing up your hair. I do have to admit that after many years in an increasingly stifling corporate environment, it is fun to come to a place where there are fewer rules about that sort of thing.
There was a lot of discussion about getting “down and dirty”. I’ve sort of heard that with swing before. Well not exactly “down and dirty” but about trying to accent certain beats a little better. Makes it look more interesting. There were a couple of places where she really wanted that so I gave it my best shot. Maybe I got part of the way there. Something to keep working on.
Actually, if I think about the lesson as a whole, much of it was a reminder of a quote I’ve used before but sometimes forget.
I think a lot of us who come to dancing later in life have believed all the lies everyone tells themselves when the subject of taking dance lessons comes up. You know the ones. “I can’t dance”. “I have two left feet” “I have no rhythm”. You have to unlearn all that stuff and free your mind to see what you can do. It is like that first moment when you feel free to call yourself a dancer. Yes we aren’t pros but we are still dancers.
And I still do that to myself with the rhythm dances. I am better at the smooth dances. That is clear. But when I sell myself short on the rhythm ones, I’m defining myself by what I’m not. Or more precisely what I perceive that I’m not. There is clearly a swing dancer somewhere inside and he just needs permission to come out.
Since I’ve ended on a inspiring note, I’ll just call it a post here. Have a good day. I certainly plan to.