Up until a week ago, I had never in my life been to an exercise class. Well, never in my adult life. When I was 16 and trying to get my Duke of Edinburgh award, I went to the school aerobics club for two whole weeks. Then I realised that it was torture and that I could get the award by ice skating instead and I never went back. Last year, when I lived in Edinburgh. I didn't need exercise classes. I was walking for an hour ever day, climbing mountains every so often at the weekends and going running every time I could guilt myself into it.
Since I came to Milan, however, the only rapid movement that has taken place in my life is the downhill slide in the amount that I exercise. In the summer, I could rollerblade in the park and I did some amazing long walks in the mountains. In winter, though, the ground is too wet for rollerblading and the mountains are too dangerous for a dilettante like me. Even if I was motivated to go running, the nearest park is a bus ride away and on the days when it's not too wet, the cold air opens up your lungs and lets you breathe the traffic fumes in far too effectively to make running a healthy thing to do. So when two of my friends announced that they were going to a dance fitness class, I decided it might be a good idea too.
The class is great. Bouncing around to music ranging from the Beatles to Mambo Italiano, culminating in a grand ten minute finale to the Mamma Mia Mega Mix is definitely my idea of fun. In fact, it's exactly what I do at home in front of the mirror when nobody's looking. The other women who go (even Italian blokes are not quite comfortable enough with their masculinity for this kind of thing) are great fun as well. They are the most Italian Italians I've met in Milan so far and they laugh and talk the whole time, including when we're dancing and over the teacher talking. I've been to three classes so far and every time I've left with a big smile on my face.
In addition, I might finally learn to remember which way is “su” (up) and which way is “giù” (down) so well that I will never ever forget it.