Bridget Of Bensonhurst

Why would you want your Zumba teacher to be sane?  Mine isn’t.   Let me revise that. Bridget isn’t exactly insane— she’s just got a screw loose, the screw which holds back inhibition.

The over forty gram strides onto the mat Monday at noon, her green eyes naughty beneath blue shadow:  “Do you girls want hip scarves?”  We look at each other, the devotees of Bridget. “Sure,” I say.  Like a peddler in a Turkish baazar, she reaches into her duffel and pulls out chiffon teasers in primary colors. With bells. You’re jingling baby. “What color?” she asks.“Red,” I reply.

Are there other colors? I tie it on, and step through a beaded curtain into a hookah bar in Ankara.

Bridget sets our soft bellies on fire as she engages our abs with her undulating lead, vamping jazz hands over lunatic eyes— I can do that.  She pats her thighs assuredly to show which foot goes forward next. God I love those dumbed-down visual tips to keep me in the routine.  “You like eighties?” I nod, “Good, I’m an eighties girl myself,” and just like that, Bridget goes old school. We move from Turkish delight to Vanilla Ice. I haven’t had big fun like this since I was in skates with lightning bolts stitched over the ankles, and techno group Inner City was pumping through the English muffins over my ears as I traced figure eights in the asphalt in front of my house...

What’s really sane about exercise anyway? It’s a waste of energy when we should be focused on conservation. Aren’t we active enough moving those little playing pieces—named Theodore and William in my home—along the game board of life? Breakfast (rushed and largely uneaten) school drop-off, pick-up, after-school activity (piano/chess/tennis,) dinner, homework, fraternal fighting, brush, floss, gargle, books and bed.  Just getting to work too, that’s exertion enough: standing forty-five minutes from Midwood to midtown. Makes you want to put your feet up and eat a cream-filled, don’t it?

Yet exercise demonstrates one of life’s weird inversions—along with love, generosity and holiday cards—the more you give, the more you get back. Put out on the dance floor or the dinner table, scrawl or send out digital seasons greetings: guaranteed you’ll get killer energy, unmanageable leftovers and an inbox full of yule.

Beyond the power boost, there are those long-term bennies of raising your heart rate, you already know:

Why Women Over 40 Should Work Out:

  • weight management
  • heart health
  • blood vessel health
  • bone health
  • joint health
  • boob health

Terrific. But I’ll take the short-term perks too. The instant rewards for sweat and spasms in my seat cushion:

Why Women Over 40 Should Really Work Out:

  • Hauling spoiled six-year-olds
  • High school reunions
  • College reunions
  • Running into old flames
  • Running around in high heels
  • Running around in skinny jeans
  • Pencil skirts
  • There’s less time ahead of you than behind: get more hours out of your day.
  • Bonus: Endorphin rushes that beat back lukewarm depression and those occasional, gaping panic attacks that whisper you are alone in this world -- despite the mountain range of dirty laundry on the cellar floor to suggest otherwise.

But Zumba only starts my week. What about the rest? Given little time and less money, here’s my solution to Tuesday-Saturday (God and I rest on Sundays. Sort of.): dated exercise tapes.  Last summer I rediscovered Tae Bo at the bottom of a tag sale box and I’ve been kicking back with Billy Blanks ever since. Passé push-up drills have their advantages. For one thing, there’s Bllly’s shorts.

Puts a smile on my face every time I pop in the DVD. Then there’s the seven-time World Martial Arts Champion getting deep, real deep, in the cool-down, in those shorts: “Tae Bo Cardio Workout is to do one thing. It’s to test your endurance. Get your heart pumping, get you moving, and bring life into yourself because remember your heart is the big muscle inside your chest that shows love, shows power, shows endurance, strength everything that God has given us, that heart shows. So if you keep that in shape you will have a long life...”

I’m also wearing out Chalene’s tape. No typo. It’s Chalene sans the “r,”  alpha bunny of Beach Body Turbo Jam. It’s a work out for the rods and cones just to manage the contrast between her teeth and her tan. Giggly Chalene likes to punch. Hard.  “Imagine there’s a guy on the floor.. Right there… BAM!!... Is that too violent?” Tee hee.  “No Chalene. Bring it on.”  Turbo Jam: Punch, Kick & Jam


Also worth mentioning, a fab friend recently gifted me with a couple of newer videos by celebrity fitness gurus:

Physique 57: Express 30 Minute Full Body Workout. Manhattan-based Tanya Becker gets it all done, head to tail, in a New York minute. Her hotties lead you through strange but effective reps with playground balls.

The Tracy Anderson Method Post-Pregnancy Workout

Tracy, Gwyneth’s girl, pushes you through a punishing post-preg workout,  swearing she can tighten up that belly baby flap.  Promises, promises, but I’m starting to see my navel again.

It’s 12:55. I’m more than dewy. I smell like an Ankara goat.

“What do you think about me getting us some wrist cuffs and tiaras for next time? I can get those you know...”  Bridget’s serious. I am too. “Absolutely.”

Zumba with Bridget, gyrating out of control, and customizing her playlist to whoever’s in class: Mondays at Noon

Midwood Martial Arts and Family Fitness Center
1302 Avenue H

Brooklyn, New York 11230

718-258-KICK (5425)

More Insane Energy Tips...

Eat more of this:

  • Oatmeal: In our home, only the dog and I eat oatmeal joyfully, but it stokes us both.
  • Lentils/chick peas/split peas
  • Chops: lamb, pork veal. Down to the bone.
  • Fresh fruit by the bushel
  • Greek Yogurt with granola (see recipe in blog post: “The Great Consolidator”)
  • Okay, okay, let’s cop to coffee too..

And less of this:

  • Kiddie carbs (pretzels, goldfish crackers, saltines)
  • Grown-up carbs (baguettes, croissants, crêpes...Quel dommage!)