Now I’m back in the saddle, in the business of trying as many physical activities as my now wretched knees, lower legs and occasionally elbows, will allow, I decided to get serious and hit up the Reebok Sports Club in Canary Wharf for some classes – doesn’t ask doesn’t get, right?
“Sure”, was their response, “try as many as you like”, which I was taking as a bit of a result. On further inspection of their timetable, I decided I was essentially winning at life.
I’ve been to a lot of gyms in my time, and admittedly most of them have been of the ex-local authority variety and Reebok clearly benefits from a well-known brand and oodles of cash behind them, but I can honestly say (and not just because I want them to adopt me as a pet so I can live in the gym), I have never seen a more varied, interesting looking class timetable. EVER. I immediately spotted about five classes I’d have liked to try, but not wanting to outstay my welcome, I settled on three. Strangely, given my recent attempts at being alluring via the medium of dance, I was drawn to a class called “Body Fit Burlesque”, a dance class incorporating elements of, as the name would suggest, burlesque.
It was all a bit short notice and I’d left it too late in the day to coerce a pal to come along and do the embarrassing photo-taking thing (very awkward in a class-based scenario), so off I went, all on my lonesome, though I suspected this might ultimately be to my benefit.
Arriving at the gym, I am slightly overwhelmed by its epic proportions. These are some pretty serious digs – there’s a climbing wall in the reception area for goodness’ sake. More importantly, you don’t have to pay a tenner’s deposit for a towel, as if you might actually want to steal an over-washed, crusty piece of cloth that’s seen more unfamiliar intimate body parts than Hugh Heffner. This is pretty much the high life – I’ll take one for my hair, too, I silently note.
The class, which is held in some kind of mega-studio with SYMPATHETIC LIGHTING, consists solely of women. This being Canary Wharf, not Shoreditch, the only headscarf in sight is wrapped around the barnet of instructor, Isis Rose, a commercial and burlesque dancer herself. Naturally the scarf inexplicably intimidates me, but I’m put at ease as soon as I discover Isis is a northerner – you can’t go wrong with a northerner, they’re at least 60% less pretentious than Southerners.
We start off with a bit of strutting around, but proper strutting, where you shake your ass kick your legs and wave your arms, like you’re being sexy rather than drowning. Not realising this is just the warm up, at this stage I’m slightly wondering what the point of it all is. I feel a bit awkward, but it’s not exactly hard work.
We’ll now move on to an actual routine, Isis announces, and I start to feel the pangs of fear that only a “sexy” choreographed routine can elicit, but it’s going to be to Telephone by Lady Gaga (featuring Beyonce, obviously), which has a soothing effect.
I’m out of my depth from the get go, failing to master the first move, which is just basically retracting your outstretched arm with a cheeky little jump – co-ordination has never been a strong point of mine. Then we’ve got to do a bit of grinding, which is even awkward when you’re drunk, to be honest, let alone stone cold sober in a room full of strangers, but as we move on from this into a bit of strutting, and what I believe the kids affectionately call “slut dropping”, I’m gripped by the spirit of Beyonce and I realise I don’t actually really give a crap what anyone else in the room thinks of my efforts.
There’s plenty more of the above, culminating in a pretty cool finger clicking, grinding strut to the front of the studio ending with some fierce posing. Even though I’m wearing my serious face (it helps me focus) which is always embarrassing, I feel like I’m in the video for Bad, but with accountants instead of people on roller-skates doing handstands, and I’m happy about all aspects of this.
The class is pitched really well at people who may or may not have a background in dance. I’ve often found choreographed routines so ludicrously complicated that I end up looking like I’m Riverdancing as I flail desperately trying to move my limbs at the required speed. Not so in Isis’ class, and I feel like I’m improving as the class goes on, which is rare. Isis is brilliant and you feel like she’s just one of your mates, except for the fact that she’s got a much nicer bum than most human beings.
At the end of the class, Isis tells me the point of it is being sexy in an empowering way. She teaches the same routine for a few consecutive weeks so the class can really get the hang of it before moving on, and as I experienced in the class, she notices how participants loosen up as their confidence grows, which is what she enjoys about teaching it.
My only hesitation is, despite Isis telling us we’re going to feel the DOMS (that’s delayed onset muscle soreness, kids) tomorrow, I remain unconvinced. That is until tomorrow, when the DOMS kick in and I realise why Isis has such a great bum. I leave the class feeling like Alan Partridge after he takes that woman to an owl sanctuary – It’s made me feel like a girl of 16 and I’m practically skipping to the Underground station.
Body Fit Burlesque classes are held at the Reebok Sports Club on Fridays at 18:40. A range of membership options are available.