A terrible dancer tries a fitness dance class on campus


When I first agreed to go with my friend Steph to one of the free fitness dance classes offered at PAC, I was terrified and on the verge of backing out. I’m no dancer nor have I ever been. Since childhood, I’ve lacked the coordination, rhythm, and ability to learn even the most basic of step-touch routines that seemed to come so naturally for everyone else. I had no desire to embarrass myself in front of a bunch of strangers, and there was a reason I wouldn’t even play Just Dance or go to the gym with friends. “Think of the pop,” Steph texted me, reminding me that there would be music I liked. I made myself promise — both to me and to her — that I wouldn’t back out and that I would give the class an honest shot. 

Veronica Reiner

On the day of the class, I started to panic. An hour before the class, I was running late. At the bus stop, I realized I had forgotten my gym shoes and had to run back home to grab them. By the time I reached campus, I had to sprint to my office to drop off my bag and laptop since I had a creative writing class later that evening. I reached the dance studio, located in PAC 1, right on time and found myself in a giant rectangular room surrounded by 30 students who appeared more assured and athletic than I’d ever been, drenched in sweat. I found myself wishing I had purchased a pair of Lululemons instead of the low-grade biker shorts I had decided on. 

I felt more relaxed once I went over to Steph, who waved at me from the middle of the pack and reassured me that I’d be fine. “Just follow the best you can,” she told me. From the front of the room, the instructor gave us a little introduction to the class, and we were off. 

We started with a warm-up that involved a bit of basic stretches and jogging in place. This isn’t too bad, I remember thinking. I liked yoga back in gym class. The music, too, was helping me relax. Among the songs that played were Olivia Rodrigo’s “bad idea right?” and Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” which remain staples on my playlist. I didn’t feel like I was engaging in some arduous workout; I felt like I was in the room with my girlfriends, getting ready to go out. 

The first few dance sequences were relatively straightforward: there were dance moves (step-touches, slides, moves where we alternated raising our arms and crossing our legs) mixed in with more typical workout fare (lunges, squats, touching your toes, and the like). By this point, I was feeling energized and sweaty, but not winded. I was even starting to have fun. 

It was around “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus where I began to get completely lost. When I was supposed to raise my right arm and lift my left leg, I’d fumble and perform the reverse motion. I was completely and utterly lost in the shuffle of the sequence she had taught us. As I stood there, staring blankly at the room of people I had previously been so intimidated by, I realized that no one seemed to be noticing how badly I was screwing up — and if they did notice, no one cared. Somewhere within me, a knot began to loosen. I wasn’t a good dancer, that much was obvious. But since I didn’t have to worry about being good, I no longer had to worry about being perfect since that wasn’t an option. All I needed to do was keep up the best I could and when that failed, vaguely mimic the flow of movements ahead of me even if the particulars were all wrong and stick it out. 

After the half-hour had passed and the class was over, Steph raised an eyebrow at me from beside me. “So?” she said by way of asking me what I thought. As we grabbed water, I joked that maybe the pop spin classes were more for me. Even as of my writing of this article, now, weeks later, I’m not fully sure where I stand. 

Am I rushing to polish dancing shoes? Well… not exactly. But I am slightly more open to the possibility that trying new things that scare me won’t kill me and taking another fitness class might not be the worst thing in the world. And who knows: maybe one of these days, you’ll find me at another dance class on campus. It’s all about the baby steps, right?