Exercise is the worst. And I’m not saying this in that patronising fitness junkie way, I truly mean it. I would much, much rather park my behind on the couch with a trough of dumplings until I become a sofa-human hybrid.
Fatty rant aside, I do understand that exercise is a necessary evil, and if I’m going to burn off all those dumplings I shoved into my mouth, I better enjoy getting rid of the calories as much as I enjoyed eating them. That’s where 80’s-style aerobics class Retrosweat comes in, it’s 50 minutes of leg lifting, hand-clapping, floor-stomping cardio and strength. And even for my exercise-phobic self, it was love at first leotard… I was ready to dance like it was 1989.
So, after booking my spot on my new best friend BodyPass (unlimited fitness classes all over Sydney for $99 a month), off I went to Bondi Pavilion on a freezing cold winter’s evening, strutting down the promenade in my bright pink and yellow seashell leggings and fuchsia scrunchie. Was I embarrassed? Not really. If anything, I felt a bond when I saw the rest of the crew had dressed in everything from leg warmers and sweat bands to mankinis and unitards. You don’t have to dress up, but it’s more fun if you do, plus there are prizes for best dressed every week. Apart from all the costumes and music, Shannon really has created a workout that will tone your body and clear your mind of any crap you’ve been dwelling on. Got an issue? Dance it out!
A NIDA graduate, instructor Shannon Dooley is not only one of the biggest babes you’ve ever seen, but also totally understands my above sentiments. “We need exercise to live, might as well make it fun”, she told me on the night.
Shannon is nothing if not committed to her craft, she rocks up in head-to-toe 80’s getup to her classes three times a week and assures me she has never worn the same outfit twice. Commitment to hard work and fun, people.
And fun it was. In all seriousness, abdominal workouts are a lot more enjoyable when you’re crunching away to The Police belting out Roxanne. You better believe I’m going to put on the red light, Sting.
So, what happens in a Retrosweat class? Apart from bopping along to Madonna and Michael Jackson, of course. Lots of sweat, lots of fancy footwork, and lots of laughter. It’s the kind of workout where you really, really feel the burn, but you’re having too much fun to care. There’s a bit of choreography to learn, but don’t worry if you’re not much of a dancer, it’s nothing you can’t pick up after a few tries.
Once the music starts playing and you really do get into the groove (Madonna style), it’s impossible not to channel your inner Jane Fonda and get your high kick-shimmy-clap on. Shannon is a pro at making you work hard and have an amount of fun that is usually not associated with the term ‘exercise’. Besides, who would I be to not get down to the commanding sounds of Prince?
Retrosweat is a world apart from the type of exercise I have grown to loathe. There are none of those mirror-watching buff dudes in singlets yelling at you to keep going, no sadistic drill sergeant promising it’s your last rep when there are three more coming, it’s just a whole lot of fun while feeling that burn. No, seriously, my new girl crush Shannon assures us that you can burn up to a thousand calories (!!) in one class, so it’s even more effective than a gruelling Crossfit class, and a million times more fun.
I have to admit I felt a pang of sadness when the class was over. Sure, I was red-faced and sweatier than a pregnant nun at confession, but good lord did I have the time of my life. So workout down, into the next day I went, slight hobble as I ascended the stairs to the office as my buns turned to steel and I booked myself in for a class the next week. Now, where are my dumplings?
Retrosweat classes take place at 7pm Tuesdays at Worldwide Dance Studios Alexandria, 7pm Wednesdays at The Seagull Room Bondi Pavilion, and 7pm Thursdays at Hiscoes Fitness Centre Surry Hills.
More info on Retrosweat (and an incredible website) here.
If you're keen to learn more about the wonders of BodyPass here.
Image credit: Frederica Portentoso