Just Dance: Lessons In Changing My Thoughts On Exercise
When I was in my last year of high school, my final semester schedule originally included law, math, two English courses, and choir. While I was bound for university the next Fall, this seemed kind of like a tough schedule with a lot of work involved. I decided, somewhat reluctantly, first-period law was the only course I could reasonably drop. Most 17-year-olds wouldn’t see a 8:50-9:50 AM spare as a problem, but since I got a ride to school with a friend (who was in that same 8:50 AM law class!) and I didn’t live walking distance from school, this didn’t seem to be a great idea.
At the time, my friends were all posting their schedules on Facebook, and I figured out that there was a first-period grade 11/12 dance class I could join—for credit, even though I didn’t actually need the credit. I didn’t have the prerequisite dance courses, so I went and talked to the teacher (who had taught me biology the semester before) and she was more than happy to have me join. That was that I went to the guidance counselor, changed my schedule, and found myself in a dance class for the first time in my life—two years prior I’d been in the school musical and let’s just say that dance was not my forte.
Dance as an activity for an asthmatic
At this point in time, I was less than a year out of my asthmadiagnosis. My asthma was very poorly controlled and I was not on the right medications. Dance proved a better workout than the phys ed class I’d taken the term prior (which had been reinstated as a required course from K-12 after I’d had a gap year!), and harder than my asthma, but I learned how much I enjoyed it, even if I lacked the skill that most if not all of my classmates had. I told the teacher about my asthma, and she was understanding—despite that I had to sit out more than I would have liked, especially at some parts of the term, she always gave me (and others who were sick or injured) ways to be involved even if I couldn’t actually dance that day—“two stars and a wish” assignments, running the music, and so on. Yet, even though I wasn’t really a dancer, the place I wanted to be most was on the stage with everyone else!
The “not really a dancer” part didn’t matter. It was as fun as my lack of coordination and visual memory (which I’d learn later) was frustrating. The fun was the main part. I had several friends in the class, and maybe we weren’t the most in shape or athletic or the best dancers, but we might have had the most fun! And I’m fortunate that we had a teacher who respected that, embraced that we were trying, and simply wanted us to MOVE (and maybe improve a bit… But just a bit). I ended the course with an A… Which was certainly an A for effort!
Now that my asthma is in better control, dance is still something I explore every so often, on my own. When the music is playing, when I’m by myself, my coughing doesn’t matter, just like my lack of coordination doesn’t matter. Despite that decade I’d spent hating phys ed, what matters is that I’m having fun, moving and getting exercise. I learned something I never would have learned in that law class: that movement and physical activity could be fun, social, and enjoyable—even with asthma.
And, considering I found myself 5 years later with a degree in Physical & Health Education, that lesson turned out to be one that will positively impact me the rest of my life. (As long as I commit to doing what I know I should be, anyways!)
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