Friday, November 20, 2009

More To Life Than Handstand Piroettes?

The summer before last, I got this overwhelming urge to Double Dutch. The only problem was that I didn't know how and no matter hard I tried, simply could not figure it out. I watched YouTube videos of professional jump rope performances (rad!), I tried to learn from a few girls in the crack park near my house (fail)...I even brought Double Dutch ropes to a group campout to see if any of my friends knew how to do it (umm, they didn't). Despite my valiant efforts to successfully jump into the double ropes--and stay in there--I just

For those of you who've known me for a while, you've likely cycled through one of my "I'm-Still-An-Athlete-Damnit" phases. Marked by a myopic obsession centering around something athletic (note: can be a loose association), these phases tend to last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. And they usually don't end well.

In fact, one particularly misguided phase (the Of-Course-I-Can-Skate Phase) ended with me entering myself and two friends into a 26-mile skate marathon, convinced that we were "athletic" enough to be competitive despite the fact that we had never skated more than 10 miles in preparation. By mile 12, my poor friends were exhausted and bleeding...and dropped out of the race. Instead, they spent the morning downing beers while laughing at me as I dragged myself to the finish line, ultimately coming in last place...behind a 9-year-old boy. Eek.

I blame this overzealous determination on the fact that I was a serious little gymnast throughout most of my childhood. For about 10 years, I spent three to four days a week vaulting, swinging, balancing and flipping (oftentimes to Rob Base songs, which I'm retrospectively proud of myself for). However, my unwavering commitment to the sport fell by the wayside the minute I hit puberty and realized that there was more to life than handstand pirouettes (a philosophy I'm now questioning).

Long story short, I was never as good at any other sports as I was at gymnastics (plus, it was hard to get pumped for activities that did not require shiny leotards and french braids). Yet, 20 years later, I find it difficult to think of myself as anything other than a "serious athlete," a self-imposed identity that my friend Eric is forever teasing me about. As a result, it rips my soul a little when I try out a new sport and suck hard (which is why I never told him that standing on the flying trapeze platform almost gave me a heart attack when I took lessons last year--shhh).

Fast forward to summer 2008 when I decided I would draw upon my, err, "athletic background" and learn to Double Dutch. Just when I had reached the end of my rope (ha!), I saw that a Double Dutch documentary film (called Jump!) was playing at the Roxie theatre, right around the corner from my house. Was it a sign? I dragged a friend to watch it with me and we were mesmerized. Now I reeeeally had to learn.

Striking while the iron was hot, 2 cute and stylie women about our age stood up at the end of the movie and announced that they were professional Double Dutchers aaaaaaaaaand that they taught lessons to adults right here in the city. I told them about my failed attempts and they swore they could teach me. The minute I got home, I signed up for their Intro To Double Dutch class. Understandably, my 2 friends from skate marathon fame politely declined when I asked them to join me.

Three weeks of Double Dutching stretched into 3 months, stretched into a full year and I am proud to say I can now stay in those ropes for a good long while. Eat your heart out 9-year-old skater boy. Who's got the fancy footwork now? Mmm hmmm. And one year later, I've decided it's official: I am still an athlete, damnit! Woot!

Those Double Dutch girls whom I met at the documentary (now my darling friends) weren't lying when this said they could teach me. In fact, they taught dozens of us. Check out the above video taken at our first recital a few weeks ago. Aren't we...athletic?! And our outfits are just as cool (if not cooler than) shiny leotards, don't you think? All we're missing is a little Rob Base.

So next time my athleticism comes into question (like during the hold your leg pose in Bikram class or the 3-mile run in Boot Camp or when Rick forces me to go down a big hill on a snowboard), my soul shall remain unharmed as I revel in the fact that I can Double Dutch!

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