Arts & Culture Opinion South Orange Towns

Getting Ready to Get Fit: S. Orange Health and Fitness Challenge

While the calendar and the forecast call for shovels and gloves, I am one of 125 locals digging sneakers and gym shorts out of the closet. I have registered for the first ever South Orange Health and Fitness Challenge, a weight loss contest designed to promote wellness and healthy living. The event is sponsored by the Village of South Orange, and hosted by the Baird Center. It begins on January 15 and wraps up on June 15.

While folks I know registered as a team, I am participating individually. Teams and individuals that show the most fitness progress will win prizes, though I am in this for the companionship. I like being active, but I love being social. And gathering as a group, even just once a month, is fun and a good motivator to keep moving.

I will post updates on my fitness adventure throughout the weeks that follow. I welcome questions, comments and fitness tips.

Let’s move!

Post 1: Dancing In the Dark (Part of the Year)

I jump-started my own fitness effort by beginning Zumba classes. (This happened before I knew about the Fitness Challenge.) Thanksgiving launches my personal Season of Non-Stop Eating. That same week, I went to a dance class at Club Z on Springfield Avenue.

Zumba, for the uninitiated, is exercise dressed up as dance. My classes feature cha-cha, merengue, and steps from the Charleston. I’ve learned bits of tango from Ilyana; the twist from Eileen; and how to cross a dance floor boldly from Lidia. And, believe it or not, it’s real exercise. We sweat, gulp water, and leave exhausted.

After the first class I took, early on a Sunday morning, I slept for two hours. I panted through a few evening classes, leaving the studio on the darkest days of the year and resting before I could make my way home. But, as one of the posters on the wall in the studio reads, “Today’s challenge is tomorrow’s warm-up.” My stamina is increasing. I can now dance all the way through PitBull’s song “Fireball” and walk afterwards. Progress.

Now it’s time to extend this progress, to translate it into the fitness challenge. It’s hard to leave home for a class on these dark, cold days, so making public my goal will be a motivator. My first South Orange Health and Fitness Challenge goal: I will attend Zumba classes three times each week.

And after Zumba? I have my eye on a high-impact hip-hop class. Jason, who appears to have springs in his feet and batteries to keep him moving, teaches the class. Taking one of those classes is my longer-term South Orange Health and Fitness Challenge goal.

The old Liverpool back-and-forth goes:

Are you dancing?

Are you asking?

I’m asking.

I’m dancing.

So, locals, are you dancing? I’m asking!

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