Billy Blanks and bellydance


A few months ago, I got the bright idea to lose weight. I don’t look half bad … I actually look pretty good. But the BMI chart online says I’m overweight. At 5 foot 5 and a half inches and weighing 73 kilos, there’s some work that needs doing. It’s kind of annoying, because unless you’re in my bathtub, you can’t really see where those 73 kilos are!

The last time I consciously weighed myself, my baby was 2 years old, I weighed 55kg, and I had just shaved my dreads to be an air hostess. Luckily, the interview didn’t work out, so I grew my locks back. A few years later, I moved to Dar. Between kisamvu, Morocco burgers, and cheap ice cream, I eased up to 60kg in six months. Then my baby came over. We moved to a house five minutes from the office, and we also got a mboch. I didn’t notice the difference until the landlord’s kid said how lovely I was getting. In Dar, beauty is proportionate to weight, so I got a weighing scale. I was up to 69!

I kept meaning to do something about it, and when we moved back to Kenya, I launched into Operation Lose 1okg. I joined the gym next door for maybe three months before life and depression happened. I’d stockpiled exercise videos and I figured I was fine, since I still looked great and I weighed the same. I’ve been at 70 for a year.

But a few days ago, I weighed myself. The point was to goad my princess into eating more, since she hates food and she’s all ribs. She gets that from me, unfortunately. I was 5 inches high and weighed 2 kilos until high school, then I morphed right up to 5 foot 80kg. Still, she needs to gain some weight before she turns 18, so we often have this food debate.

The idea was for her to see how light she was so I could bully her into eating more. At 4 feet 6 inches, she weighs just below 30 kilos. The doctor says that’s fine, but I want to see some flesh on those bones, so out came the bathroom scales. Instead, she made me mount the scales, and I saw … *gasp* … 73!! I was sure the thing was broken, so I picked it up, turned it over, shook it, and tweaked the dial. Nothing doing. Still 73. Aw crud.

I’ve been saying I’ll save up to rejoin the gym, but in the meantime, I could probably use my exercise videos. So this morning, as soon as princess got on the bus, I popped in the DVD. I lingered at the belly dance section then decided to skip it and go right into Billy Blanks. It was pretty much like the last time. I had fun until they reached the cross-kick-punch combination, then I ended up on the floor. It’s like playing Twister by yourself … and losing.

The video was 45 minutes long, and I made it through to minute 30. I really feel that girl in the Easy FM advert, since I have trouble coordinating, but I did sweat, so I know I did something right.

The video showed off different kinds of beauty. The main girl, Shellie, wears a stylish burgundy gym thingie. Her legs are in loose fitting capris, and her top is a halter neck. She has the most awesome six pack, has barely any chest, and is rather on the slim side, but she has this thing going that is hot hot hot! I’m guessing it’s the X factor.

There’s a second girl behind Billy who’s older. She’s curvy, though well built, and she looks beautifully feminine. The camera has a habit of zoning into her … um … the bits that support bras can’t hide. You know, the bits that stick out sometimes? Yeah.

Then there’s the Amazonian woman in black. Her body is kind of … square … and I bet you any mugger would see her and run the other way. She’s kind of beefy, but she exudes a power that says, ‘I’m still sexy.’ Or maybe what it means is, ‘Don’t wink at me, I’m Butch.’

There was this one guy on the video whose shirt was soaked. His skin was all wet and shiny and if you ask me, that’s brilliant video editing. They must have stopped the tape to dunk him in some water, but I can’t detect the splice. Me, after 30 minutes, only my face was sweating, and I had a stitch in my chest. Yes, it’s possible to have a stitch in your chest. I sat through the last fifteen minutes, then watched the opening sequence of the salsa section. Interesting.

The ladies in the tae-bo video made me think of girls in Kenya. No matter how … large … we are, we almost always have good shape. I’ve seen women that weigh 120kg but they still look like an hour galss. Or a five litre coke bottle. It must be African genes.

And I still say a Kenyan-themed video would rock. Just think of a workout based on Isikuti, Chuka drums, Kamba footwork, Ramogi backbends, Mijikenda hipwork, Kisii shoulder moves, and Maasai jumping. We could do it to a genge soundtrack, burn more calories than three hours in Lewa, and have a lot of fun too.

Tomorrow, I try again. Hopefully I can make it through all 45 minutes without tripping. As for bellydance, I’m sure that I can do it … as long as I hide from the mirror. Ever since I watched the dance of the seven veils on Lois and Clark, I’ve wanted to learn it myself. It comes in handy as a birthday present … or something.

I’ll just wait until my abs are set. By the time I’ve gathered washboards, I should have picked some grace as well. If nothing else, I’ll be able to do the camel without giggling myself to death.


Bellydance videos and other dumb ideas

I’ve always been fascinated by bellies. Probably because I’ve always had one. My mum told me not to obsess over it. ‘It’s only baby fat’.

But the baby fat wouldn’t go, and having a baby of my own didn’t help matters.

My latest craze has been joining a gym, and since I discovered torrents, I’ve also been scouting for videos. 

Not that kind of video. Bellydancing videos. It seemed like the perfect way to learn the old seductive art.

Not that old seductive art. Even though the moves are surprisingly similar.

And while we’re talking seduction, I find it odd that Arabic culture, which gave us the buibui, simultaneously gave the most erotic titbits. Just think … bellydance, genies, chakacha … there must be some irony in there somewhere.

I’d tried to learn this dance before by reading tutorials on a website. There’s something very wrong with a person who learns more from reading than by watching, and a few years back,  I learnt the four basic moves using text and a bathroom mirror.

So anyway, I got some bellydance videos online, and proceeded to follow the instructions. The movements looked easy enough, and the ladies were beautifully toned. They were mostly workout videos with choreographed sections to add psyche.

A couple of lessons I picked while learning to bellydance: number one, grace isn’t inherent. Some people just don’t have it. I noticed this the hard way when I tried to do snake arms and figure eights.

I didn’t get past the first five minutes because I fell over laughing.

Which brings in lesson two. Never learn to bellydance in front of a six foot mirror. Really. Just don’t.

It’s perfectly logical to watch yourself, to make sure you’re doing the moves correctly, but you’ll end up hurting yourself … or someone else. Like the girl in the video.

I watched the routines for a bit, then decided to stick to salsa. It’s  far less ridiculous, and really, anybody can look sexy doing salsa.

The final lesson of bellydance was a confirmation that my brain is wired wrong. When I go to the gym, I can easily do crunches but have problems with the leg raise. Similarly, in the art of bellydance, I was easy with the shimmy, undulations, and even the camel, but I couldn’t for the life of me do a figure eight. Go figure.

I admit, bellydance is great ab exercise. I may have looked ridiculous, but I could totally feel those muscles working. I might keep up the workout – just as long as I don’t let my Sailor watch. If he must watch, I want dim lighting lots of  slinky cloth and bells to hide accentuate my movements.

After a few minutes of death by laughter, I switched over to Billy Blanks because, well, all I need is space and a yelling voice. And, it’s the perfect excuse to learn how to punch. 

The first session was lots of fun. There were all these pretty people to watch, I didn’t look half as gracelees [though I did keep falling over], and the sweat piles up quite fast, which convinced me I was doing something right. Billy himself is a little loopy, but you can’t win all the time.

The trouble came in when he started with the kicks and the punches. First off, even in mid-workout, I noticed that I punch like a girl. It’s embarrassing really.  And just after the workout, I looked slightly more buffed, which is great, even if it’s all in my mind.

But there were bits where we had to punch left, kick right, start from the top. First, I don’t know my left from my right. Second, I can’t talk and skate at the same time, so that whole walk, jump, punch, kick thing was so not working for me.

Luckily, again, I have a sense of  humour, so whenever I got lost [which was all the time], I’d just launch into a silly dance and wait for the butterfly. I like the butterfly. And at least I can keep up with the beat.

Conclusion, bellydance is not for me  – except to work abs, and only in candlelight. Billy Blanks holds some promise, and I might even learn to coordinate.

As for salsa, well, I have to learn to do it in heels – it’s so hot.

I like to look at everything in business terms, because in the end, it’s all about the money. All these skills were being expressed through video, because anyone can learn by looking right? And a video makes you learn by doing as well.

But what I learnt is that even with video evidence, it’s not always one size fits all. The people demonstrating the video are there because they’re good, and it’s their job to make the task look easy. It may have taken them years to do that, but you’re under the illusion you can do it in an hour.

Everyone can watch a video, just like everyone can use Microsoft Word, and everyone can hold a pen and write some random text. But clearly, not everyone can do the job and do it well.

The beauty of video is that it’s a reference point. You can go to it over and over until you get it right. Same thing with written word. You can refer as often as you need to.

Online work goes even further, because your work is on the net forever. Years from now, someone could bump into your blog post or web copy and feel the impact of your business. You want their memory to be positive.

Want web copy that speaks well for you? Try me. I may suck at bellydance, but I’m pretty good with keyboard in my hands …