I made a new friend that I met at the gym during a workout this week. He’s 33 years old, 6 foot, 220lbs with an assortment of metal rods holding parts of his spine and hip together after a devastating car accident several years ago. Looking at him today you would never know. He is a personal trainer at the Santa Fe gym who is built like a linebacker but has the flexibility of skinny track runner. He tells me that he has only ever known 2 gears in his life: stop and go. When it came time to buckle down in physical therapy, he did it just to prove the doctors wrong when they said he would never walk the same again. Coming back to the gym, he was never satisfied until he was maxing out the weights the way he used to before his accident. And he does it for no other reason than for his own personal fitness. His name is E.J.
For my new friend, it’s all about “being grimy,” as he would say.
The conversation that E.J. and I had was a discussion of the habits of “pretty people.” You can always spot the “pretty people” in sports training because they don’t like to get their hands dirty. Many times, these folk find their way into dance. It seems like a good fit but people sometimes forget about the hard work that goes into dance. It’s one of the only physical art forms done with the human body and as such, only the most fit can do it justice. In the dance world, it’s easy to spot “pretty people.” They’re constantly using the mirror in the studio as their own personal vanity mirror. They avoid training the muscles of their body in order to avoid soreness. They abhor sweat from any person including themselves. And they are almost always getting hurt. It is because of the fact that they don’t want to do the work beforehand that they end up in the states that they do. If you don’t put in the work to train your body to do things properly, your bad technique will get you hurt. If you don’t make an effort to sweat hard in your practice, your performance will look a mess. If you don’t strengthen the muscles that you use constantly, then they will give out on you at the most inopportune time.
Dance is funny in that it likes to lie to the audience. Dance likes to show people that being beautiful and elegant is easy and effortless. Dance will put on a show that makes you forget about what it took to get there. In truth, being effortless is the hardest thing to do. Dances that look a mess are easy to do. Works of dance that are amazing are drowned in sweat. Rehearsals are grimy and nasty. Muscles are sore, bodies are bruised, hair is everywhere, breathing is labored, feet are heavy, vision is blurred, and sweat on your body might not even be yours.
Think it’s gross? Think about getting another hobby. There is no room for “pretty people” in the gym when E.J. is around. And there is definitely no room for them in dance if I’m around.