15 Sep 2014
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Video: Learning to Lead a Bodyjamming Class

In the second installment of this series, a Patch editor tries on the dancing shoes of a Bodyjam instructor.

Editor's Note:  ‘Fish Out of Water’ features Minnetonka Patch Local Editor Katelynn Metz (me) trying my hand at a new job somewhere in the west metro. New editions of Fish Out of Water will appear every Monday. In this second segment, I try my hand as a group fitness instructor at in Minnetonka. 

I’m just going to get it out there: Exercise, fitness, working out—whatever you want to call it—it’s not exactly my forté. So much so, that when I told my mom that for this week’s “Fish out of Water” segment I would be learning to teach a group fitness class called "BodyJam," her first reaction was to burst out laughing. Really, Mom? 

Unphased by my own mother's lack of confidence in my athletic abilities, I decided to study up for the assignment by reading a catalog that described this  “BodyJam." In it, the class was touted as a “heart pumping … addictive fusion of the latest dance styles and hottest new sounds.”


But being the consummate journalist I am (and one who has a couple of pairs of jeans in her closet that are currently too tight to wear—or zip, or get above her knees), I showed up at this Minnetonka group fitness studio and decided to give it a try. 

I was kindly met by Liz Anema, studio director at 

"It's like a layering of an onion when you teach. I mean, you have your choreography, you have the music, you've got your connection, but you've got to motivate at the same time,” Anema told me.

Panic. Setting in. Now. 

“[You’ve got to] know what you're body's doing, and then think ahead—what's gonna happen in the next eight counts? And let [your group] know what's gonna happen,” Anema continued.

Flashes of my prior life—a life spent as a diet and nutrition counselor—popped into my head. For two years, I encouraged hundreds of Minnesotans to “move more." And every time I did, I felt like I was about to be struck by lightning for my hypocrisy. So at that moment—the moment where Anema told me that I was going to have to dance and think and talk at the same time and do it all on camera—it became quite obvious to me that this assignment was, in fact, the punishment for my past duplicity.

Most likely noticing the fast-breathing and slight green skin color brought on by the panic I was experiencing, Anema tried to motivate me. “You can do it” and “It’s fun," was said to me many times—and that was before we even started the class.

But once the music got going and I focused on what Anema was telling me, it was sort of fun.  Sort of. 

For at least a little while, I wasn’t a 30-something, overworked suburban mom of two who drives a humongous car and totes around an equally humongous purse. I was a young 24-year-old, out on the town with my girlfriends and on the dance floor at a disco. (Do people still use that word?)

I was by no means good at it. And I never got good at it. But I did leave (sweaty, light-headed and craving a cheeseburger) with an even higher appreciation and respect for Anema and her group fitness leader colleagues than I had already had.

In the car home, I even convinced myself I should take up BodyJam—imagining myself as a great dancer, toned, polished and wearing those old jeans that mock me every time I try to put them on. 

But then I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t tell what hurt more, my obviously decrepit and out-of-shape body or my deflated ego. I felt acutely aware that I’m still as uncoordinated as I was before this assignment and that the visions of me as an amazing BodyJammer in size four jeans would always be just that—merely visions.

(My) mother may know best, but at least I can now throw into random conversations, "I was once an aerobics instructor"—inciting the jealousy and awe of the uncoordinated around me. 


Many thanks to Liz Anema, Deb Garvey and many others from The Marsh, for helping this week's segment become reality. On Tuesdays Patch runs —a video segment highlighting notable athletes and teams in community sports leagues. Wednesdays feature the ‘feature where local experts in various arenas of expertise showing us what they do and how they do it. And finally on Thursdays, Patch features  which introduces us to the personalities in the kitchen of a local restaurant.

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