Don’t Skip a Beat.

When I started to take up a whole array of new hobbies earlier this year, several people were wondering whether I had maybe put a little bit too much on my plate. I shared their doubts, but I am happy to report that I have managed to keep an impressive amount of things going – much to my own surprise.

The two things I love the most are definitely drumming and dancing (not simultaneously, however). I have drum lessons once a week and practice on my own twice a week; this is not enough to quickly see progress, but as there is no chance of setting up a drum set in my flat (not unless I want my neighbours to kill me), I have to take what I get. My practice takes place in a recording studio which a friend of a friend recommended; a welcoming side benefit is that I get along really well with Anna and Matthias, the owners, who are always available for a chat or a short jamming session.

Even though I wish I could practice more often, first successes have become apparent: My motor abilities have significantly improved (also thanks to regular visits to the gym, but more on that later), and I am now not only able to read drum scores, but can also improvise short solos … within certain limitations; John Bonham would have nothing to worry about. Funnily enough, I am much more fluent in my movements when improvising; as soon as I switch off my mind, I don’t really think about motion sequences anymore and just flail at the drums and cymbals, often with very melodic results. At least that’s what Anna says; apparently, I have a rather soft spot for Latin rhythms (no idea why, though).

Drum On.

My abilities for rhythms are also helpful when it comes to dancing. My initial partner had to withdraw from the course due to work-related issues; to be honest, I wasn’t too bothered about it, as dancing with him was difficult at times – he had no sense for the beat at all and had very “stiff” legs, which made me feel like dancing with a LEGO man. At times I was becoming so frustrated that I thought about quitting the course myself.

Now that he has left, I am either partnered with Sebastian, who is one of the dance instructors in training, or a guy from one of the gold standard courses. The differences between my first partner and these men could not be more prominent: At times, I almost feel like Ginger Rogers, gracefully sliding over the dance floor (ok, I might need to work on the “graceful” bit …). It is pure heaven; Jutta, who also takes lessons at the same dance school, once commented that I “look so incredibly happy when dancing – you are positively beaming”. I have also managed to mostly switch off my desire to lead; when being confronted with new steps to learn, I sometimes even close my eyes to completely rely on the partner, focusing on my posture and feet movements. It really shows how dancing with somebody who knows what he does can make the difference.

While these two activities alone already work wonders when it comes to motor skills, condition, and general fitness, I still train once a week with Mattze, my personal coach. I also try to go to the gym at least twice a week on my own, but sometimes work or private commitments get in the way. Nevertheless, I have managed to lose about 2 stones in the past seven months; there are still 3 stones to go, but I am quite satisfied with my progress so far, especially as the difference is palpable – I already had to buy new trousers and belts.

My fitness data has also seen considerable improvements: When Mattze did the first fitness test in February, I was a bit of a wreck – from heart rate to fat/mass distribution and oxygen saturation, my results were shit. The follow-up was last month, and the figures have improved significantly; especially my oxygen saturation has risen to a level that is comparable to that of people doing competitive sports. My sense of equilibrium is much better, I can easily lift up 25 kilogram with my arms and push up 90 kilograms with my legs, and I now run about 2 km with an average speed of 9 km/h without collapsing in a breathless heap on the floor. I have also rediscovered my ambitious streak; Mattze said a couple of weeks ago that I am more stubborn in my determination to get the exercises right than most of his professional clients. I have no intention to do sports on a competitive level, even though Mattze is trying to coax me into that direction (he would love to see me pick up volleyball again); I am just happy that I feel so much stronger, healthier, and generally better than 6 months ago.

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