Zumba, or Parkinsons dance class?

My heart says ‘zumba dancing’, my sensible mind says ‘Parkinson’s Dance Class’, but the body says ‘Are you insane? Get back into bed!’

At age 72 there is so much pressure to be doing fitness classes or long walks or something very active no matter what your condition is. Lots of exercise is good for you. Well sorry, but painkillers and anti inflammatory pills are not. So a little of each in moderation I say.

It is many years since my doctor said ‘Eunice, you need to stop trying to get fit it’s going to kill you!’

That was following some injuries I did to myself learning to play squash.

Now I am learning to live with Parkinson’s disease as well as the other joys of ageing but I simply cannot and simply won’t join the 7:15 exercise class here in the seniors village. I mean that is 7:15 in the morning which to me is the middle of the night.

I would be OK for a 7:15 at night class when most of the morning lot are all going to bed – at least those who aren’t staying up to watch Married at First Sight on the telly, God forbid.

So I rocked up to the multi-purpose centre at Charlestown courtesy of my car service and was sitting in the hall foyer when I heard this music going. My they’ve got lively this week’ I thought to myself, thinking I must be running late. But when I looked inside the hall the Zumba class was just winding down and it really did look great fun. Tlhe music has such great rhythm, being based on Rumba or Latin beat that really gets the spirit lifting. My feet were tapping. The second week the door was open and I couldn’t resist sitting there next to my walker jigging backwards and forwards.

I always get there early so last week one of the ladies invited me to sit in on the winding down movements and I really enjoyed that.

I do have to bear in mind that on the only occasion, four years ago, I joined what they call a slow Zumba class (not the frenetic zumba class), I absolutely loved it but could not move my neck for the following four days! So that was the end of that.

Now I am doing the Parkinson’s dance class although we don’t dance around very much but do lots of stretching and movement to nice music to keep up the brain and body coordination.

For someone who used to take dancing classes as a child I am finding this surprisingly quite a challenge. Maybe it’s because I can’t see what Jessica is showing us really well and the noise of the ceiling fans cuts out the voice through my hearing aid but if the others can do it so can I albeit a beat later.

My friend Janet and I were reminiscing the other day that it doesn’t seem that long since we used to go dancing at Wests on a Friday night with the ‘desperate and dateless’. Gold Cadillac was thumping rock and roll through the speakers and our gang would be dancing till about 1 a.m. then all going off for a coffee somewhere.

Now we are all going to bed at 9 which was the time we used to be going out. It’s tragic but we have our memories.

Problem with my dance class I have to wind down for the rest of the afternoon to recover just from getting there and getting home while I’m waiting for the painkillers to kick in. But exercise is good for me, everybody says so.

One of the girls at class give me a CD to watch during the week to do a bit more exercise. Maybe tomorrow. I get a good workout going up all the steps to the mailbox and down again like Sylvester Stallone, or the Grand Old Duke of York.

So I am lying here waiting for a buildup of speed to get up and do something useful after my morning of washing and changing sheets, going up to the mailbox and back then along to the bin and back. I think that counts as a good work out don’t you ?

It also means I am not coming home through the McDonalds drive-thru for a fries, fillet a fish and caramel sundae to replace my energy. I do feel ashamed when I see some of the 90-year olds who are so much more sprightly than I but they have lighter bones to carry around..

Now where did I put my tennis racket and golf clubs? Oh yes next to my roller skates. Seriously though, oh how I would love to be able to roller skate along the harbour walkway in Newcastle. I used to skate and loved it but if I were to fall down now not only would it take a forklift and an ambulance Crew to get me up again but the risk of a broken hip puts it in the too hard basket. I can do it in my dreams.

In the meantime I suppose I can go for a gentle walk and sniff the flowers on the way along. The bending counts as intensive exercise.