Huffpost Teen

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Anne Hilker Headshot

Dancing Through Life

Posted: Updated:

"I take a dance class."

"Oh, where?"

"The YMCA," I say with a giant grin.

"That's not a dance class," is the usual response I receive.

Every Saturday and Monday (and now Thursday) I attend an open class at my local gym with my friend. Though the other members of the class vary from hip 60-year-olds to moms to college kids, I enjoy going. Audrey, the instructor, inspires you as she shouts out the dance moves and you follow along. I remember the first day I joined. I went with my mom to the gym one Saturday morning and instead of doing my usual run I found myself in a class called Body Jam.

This hour of booty-popping fun is much more than just my workout routine. It's taught me how to branch out of my comfort zone and to go easier on myself at the same time.

I took the generic ballet lessons as a child but stopped because a math tutor was a bit more important. I have always done theater, so I have always been around dancers and dancing in shows. But I have never had the proper "technique" to become a full-on prima ballerina. At my high school, our theater department is very big and dancing is incorporated into many of our performances, not only musicals. In our spring play, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, we even incorporated dancers to move set pieces from scene to scene. I was always a stronger singer than dancer, and I was okay with that until I had trouble keeping up in some musical numbers because I had problems with the dancing. I could do it, but it took me a little longer to learn than other dancers. I thought catching up to them would mean a huge investment of time and energy.

Though the embarrassment isn't what convinced me to join Body Jam, it makes me happy to know that next year I will be a better dancer. Body Jam has taught me that improving yourself doesn't require massive change in your life. I had expected that dance would be some kind of insurmountable challenge, a black hole sucking up a ton of effort. But my experience with Body Jam surprised me. I discovered improvement came from just trying something outside my comfort zone, finding the right teacher and sticking with it until the small steps added up. And that has taught me to go a little easier on myself with other challenges.

If a chapter in math is hard for me, maybe the solution isn't as hard as I think. Maybe it's just a matter of finding the right tutor to meet with once a week. Improvement doesn't have to be a black hole. Little steps -- and steps you enjoy -- are the best way, for me at least, to change and keep smiling about it!