Regular readers may recall that in the weeks prior to the Paris marathon, Steve and I agreed to a fundraising challenge to see who could raise the most by race day, with the loser having to complete a forfeit. The forfeit was to take part in a Fitsteps class (a fitness class devised by Ian Waite and Natalie Lowe, pro dancers from Strictly Come Dancing (perhaps known as Dancing with the Stars in your part of the world) and based on the steps in the main ballroom and Latin dances which feature in the programme).
Now Strictly is my absolute favourite tv treat of the year and I’ve always fancied having a shot (although with zero dance experience, whoever tried to teach me grace, poise and coordination would really have their work cut out) but of course this forfeit was really designed on the assumption that Steve would lose, and lose he did. So as not to conflict with his training for and recovery from Edinburgh, the forfeit was delayed for a few weeks, but never forgotten.
Fitsteps is taught by our friend Dawn at her studio here in Perth and rather than have Steve simply take part in a “regular” Fitsteps class, Dawn generously offered to turn one session into a Macmillan fundraiser instead. The idea was that everyone who attended would pay for the class as usual, but that this money would be a donation to Macmillan.
The date settled on was Friday 6th of June, the week in which the studio was also celebrating its second birthday. Despite technically still being on the injured list, I was unable to resist temptation and asked if I could take part as well – after all, not only would I get to pretend that I was in Strictly, but I would also be dancing for Macmillan, I would just have to be careful.
Dawn advised me to wear fitness gear and trainers, but also told me that some participants would be “dressing up” since it was a charity night. That sounded fun, but I also wanted to be comfortable in the warm studio (besides, I wasn’t sure if I would just have the one left foot or two!) so opted for my Macmillan tech Tshirt, one of my running skirts and, since I thought I’d best tape my leg for some extra support, my bright pink ProCompresison socks to cover up the tape and add some colour.
Everyone arrived really excited and it soon became apparent that Steve and I would be the only ones who had never done this before. Luckily we’re both up for a laugh (and a challenge) so were ready to throw ourselves in with gusto – starting with a “before” photo ahead of the warm up:
What a laugh! Each track was a different dance such as Cha Cha Cha (said, of course, in your best Craig Revel-Horwood voice!), Jive, Tango, American Smooth, Quickstep, Paso Doble and Waltz. I think there might even have been a Show Dance in there! After each track the front row moved to the back of the room so everyone was constantly rotating and had a chance to be at the front (my preference in any class as I like to be able to see what the instructor is demonstrating). Unsurprisingly, everyone else already knew the steps, while Steve and I were trying to pick things up from scratch. It wasn’t too complicated, but having never done any dancing, I don’t pick up things like that too quickly, so often found that just as I was getting more confident with a step, we would be on to something else. I tend to rely on my sense of rhythm rather than any coordination or dance talent (as I suspect I have none) and Steve is always prepared to fling himself into things, this time with some previous experience of exercise to music. Somehow we managed not to bump into anyone or step on any toes. Phew!
I think my best moment came when Paso Doble was announced and I immediately flung myself into an appropriate “Paso shape” (a bit like in the picture at the top of the page) which actually turned out to be right! I also had a bit of fun berating Steve for his “spatulistic” hands (that’s one for the true Strictly fans!). Yup, I’m a great armchair Strictly expert – go on, test me!
The beauty of the class is that everything is individual so there is no need to have a dance partner. Everyone just has a laugh and goes through the various tracks which have set routines. Many steps have different options so they can be made more complicated to suit differing levels of fitness and the routines have repeated sections so even those with additional left feet should be able to pick it up with a little practise. I was amused to find that we were encouraged to sing along to the music tracks. I know women are great at multi-tasking, but it was more than enough for me to concentrate on the dance steps without trying to sing as well. I did, however, join in with the singing during the cool down – who wouldn’t when it was to THIS:
Sadly we didn’t get to do “the lift” though. We then took an “after” photo of us all still smiling (but now a little sweaty):
And Dawn wanted one just of Steve and I, the evening’s “star couple”, doing the classic “keeeeeeeep dancing” pose from the end of each programme:
After the class there were some drinks and nibbles to celebrate the studio’s second birthday. Dawn’s friend Jenni, a Fitsteps regular and fellow runner, had also made some amazing cupcakes to mark the occasion – some featured the studio logo and others were decorated in the Macmillan colours:
We stayed to chat for a while and had a fabulous view of a quite stunning sunset:
It was a fantastic evening and we are very grateful to Dawn for her generosity in hosting a fundraiser. Thanks to this class and some other donations she collected in the days beforehand, we raised over £100 for Macmillan to add to the pot. Between us, we have raised over £5000 to date and are on course to hopefully hit £6000 which will make a massive difference to those affected by cancer, so thank you to Dawn, thank you to everyone at Inspire Studios and thank you to everyone who has donated so far.
Have you ever been to a dance-based fitness class?
Do you watch Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars?