Friday, 23 April 2010

Practice makes it easy peasy

In a final acceptance that zero exercise probably isn't good for me, I went to my first ever Zumba class yesterday. Other than teaching me the merengue, this amazing class had a few other timely reminders in store:

1. Advocacy is worth everything. I would have completely ignored this worldwide phenomenon if it hadn't been advocated to me by 2 people who's opinion I was interested in. After they had mentioned it though I suddenly started seeing Zumba everywhere, when it had been invisible to me before.

2. People are much more likely to do something more than once if it's fun and accessible. Even the most beneficial activity will be ignored if it's dull or hard to get to. To engage people you have to remove the barriers to them getting involved.

3. The more you practice doing something, the less effort it takes. As an ex dancer I used to be uber-fit, but as I've spent more and more time behind a laptop, that fitness has dropped away and I'm going to have to work to get it back again. The class started with a very energetic merengue, which was completely new to me and continued with a high tempo columbian dance I'd never done before. It was brilliant and I loved it but it was utterly exhausting - after 20 minutes I was starting to see spots.

Then something interesting happened, after a quick towel and water break, we did a cha cha. Now cha cha is still high tempo, lively, demanding... but it just so happens that I studied it (among other dances) for about 12 years. I know the moves, I know the technique, I know how to move efficiently and take bits of time from here and add them on there to make it all look slick. And what d'you know, suddenly it was easy. Quite literally no sweat. Not only was my body on autopilot but my mind was free to think about other stuff (like business parallels, I'm such a geek).

It reminded me that anything that you want to come easily, has to be practised. If you want to looks slick in a pitch or perform at your peak during an economic crisis, then you have to be practising the behaviours you value ALL the time. The reason some people 'make it look easy' is because they've practised the behaviour in, they know the technique, they understand what works. If it looks easy, that's because it IS easy - but only after a lot of hard work.

Anyway, I can't be smug about the cha cha - I spent the rest of the class flailing to keep up. I've got quite a bit of work to do before I can Zumba with ease.