I’m just a dancing pachyderm….

It’s not often you can say something has really changed your life. What is this monumental fork in my life’s highway, you ask?

Seven months ago a friend at work and I went to our first Sh’Bam class. In the spiel it was described as…. ‘A dynamic program designed with fun-loving people in mind. It’s particularly appealing to those who find alternative dance-based workouts intimidating.’ (This last bit was the hook)

Years ago I’d attended vaguely similar classes and the teacher had dubbed me the ‘class elephant’, no doubt trying to encourage me. I’d never been able to persevere with solitary gym equipment. My mind needed distraction and a wall mounted TV on a channel I’d never choose didn’t work for me. I could never keep my earphones in whilst puffing away on a treadmill either.

So there we were on that first night, hiding in the darkened back row amongst a predominantly female class. The only lights on were above the stage, accompanied by a couple of crazy multi-coloured disco balls.

Within the first five minutes I knew Sh’Bam wasn’t going to take itself seriously, that it was for me. What is it about music and moving your body that is sooooo liberating, for your mind and soul, not just your hips? There were multiple instructors on stage, male and female. Rethink instructors when you imagine Sh’Bam. These guys are genuine performers, they love what they do, and want you to feel good. Before you know it, you’re trying new moves you should have perhaps practiced in front of the mirror at home first. But what the heck, you think in the heat of the beat. That was a first for me. Imagine being back in drama class at school with a fantastic drama teacher that makes you feel safe. In one song we’re wearing our glittery thongs in a parade in Rio, next we’re tough gangsters. We fight aliens, go on pub-crawls, strut our stuff down international catwalks, join bikie gangs, perform in Baywatch. As the music reminds us, ‘We were born this way!!’  And Sh’Bammers certainly don’t take themselves too seriously. These dancing role-plays might sound intimidating, even ridiculous without the energy and music of a class (not every dance is a role-play). Remember, you’re in the dark, a huge sense of humour pervades the room, and everyone is smiling as they’re ATTEMPTING to copy what’s happening on stage. Here I must mention my girlfriend, who makes me sick. She was a dancer, so took to Sh’Bam like a swan to water. She’s amazing to watch, but I prefer not to, too soul-destroying.

Of course, the therapy Sh’Bam offers my girlfriend and I isn’t for everyone. But I feel life’s stresses wash off with my sweat. There’s no room in my mind for anything but the next move, the next laugh. I even asked an instructor’s permission to use some of her lines in the dance class in Arafura.

Sh’Bam classes are part of Les Mills programs. I don’t work for Les Mills etc, just a grateful pachyderm, a dancing queen in the dark.

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