Tonight’s dance warm-up ended with a dose of dance instructor brutality. The class, heart pumping and limbs aching from his cardio pump-up, was ordered to lower themselves onto the floor and hold the half-way position of a push-up. This means, of course, lowering yourself as close to the floor as you can, but instead of pushing back up right away, you stay where you are. In my case, I had the instructor standing over me, counting down by my ear, repeating the numbers as I faltered, refusing to let me skip out on the last few seconds. As he drilled the countdown over my head, my arms strained and screamed out in protest as my brain giggled with amusement – “Is that the best you can do??”
Ever since my dance instructor barked out the expectation that everyone in the class must try to do proper push-ups (nose to the floor), I’ve been fascinated with the weakness of my upper body and extremely curious to see if I can train myself to actually do it. My instructor says that most people confuse the correct motion of a push-up (full-range motion of your arms lowering and then pushing up) with the bobbing up and down of their neck. The key is to erase that muscle memory you’ve had since phys-ed class in grade school and re-train yourself to follow through with the full movement. It sounds easy, but after nights like tonight, I think I know better.
For the last couple weeks, I’ve unrolled my yoga matt every evening and rolled my pyjama pants up with determination before plopping myself down in high plank position. Things go pretty good, that is, until I try to push back up. My abs and lower part of my body give out as I try to push up and I end up in a crumpled heap. There’s something about lying face down on your belly that makes you feel particularly pathetic and weak, but I’m determined to make it happen even if it takes me a year to do it. The intensity of my push-up mission may seem a bit silly, but it represents a facet of physical strength that I have always been adamant that I could never do properly or in large quantities. Aiming to do a push-up is about changing my attitude about what my body is capable of and accepting that achieving my goal means patience and perseverance. I’m also intrigued with the process and looking forward to witnessing and feeling the incremental changes in strength that (I hope) will happen during this little experiment. There has already been a difference since starting the dance class in the Fall. I am able to lower myself further to the ground than before and in a more controlled motion. Now, we just have to work on the whole “collapsing in a pathetic heap” thing. And so, my friends, the push-up mission is ON!
During the rest of the class, we said good-bye to Bollywood and started our dance for the performance at the end of the year. I don’t want to give too much away at this point, but I will tell you that we will be dancing to CHER. We may also be wearing wigs. Need I say more?