Exercise is not just good for keeping weight off. It has also been shown to promote mental and cardiovascular health and better sleep, boost the immune system, buffer against certain types of cancer… the list goes on. In fact, there is very little that exercise isn't good for. My brain does not struggle with this concept on a logical level. It does however, refuse point blank to do anything about it.
Occasionally it is willing to walk across campus for the "good coffee", and sometimes it will generously offer to jog for a few metres if the train is about to leave the platform and I'm running late, but otherwise it has me comfortably slotted in to the Type B personality category, with a view to permanency.
If your brain is battling the idea of the treadmill, read on! There is another way... (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)
So if you are like me, how do you reconcile lack of motivation and time with all of the fantastic benefits that exercise has to offer? Clearly the key is in outsmarting one's own brain and exercising behind its back. The answer to this certainly does not lie in a treadmill or weights. Your brain will notice these pretty quickly.
Fortunately I believe that for anyone prepared to look hard enough, Melbourne has a solution to everything, and one of the solutions that it offers in answer to this problem happens to be particularly awesome in nature, and involves a pub.
When I first read about Anna's Go-Go Academy a couple of years ago, I was doubtful because it looked a bit too much like aerobics for my liking. My lack of coordination and rhythm have made for a bad, and sometimes violent history with aerobics, for both myself and anyone within swinging distance of me. My fears were somewhat ameliorated though, by the fact that it is run in pubs. I went to my first lesson having decided that if there ever was going to be an aerobics I could do, it was going to be the pub kind.
I unfortunately can't offer you any better description going in than "Funky Pub Aerobics", but what I can offer you is the guarantee that somehow this unlikely coupling forms an evening of the most fun you will ever have exercising. The moves are inspired by Go-Go, Disco, Funk, Soul, Michael Jackson's choreography, Jazz Dance, 70s Psychedilia, and anything and everything in-between. The music is just as diverse. In my time at the academy I have learned Anna's original choreography to Cee Lo Green's "Forget You", and Janelle Monae's "Tightrope" (my two favourites), as well as some Mommas and Pappas, Beach Boys, Hairspray the Musical, Beyonce, Bootscootin' varietals, the Hustle, and the full Thriller dance, just to name a few.
[ADVERT]For each class, I entered the pub with no coordination or rhythm, and yet I somehow managed to walk out with no injuries or law suits from neighbouring dancers, a pretty awesome routine down-pat, and a brain full of post-exercise endorphins. Classes are all self-contained so it doesn't matter if you miss any.
Whatever is needed for the class will be taught on the spot on the day and you get to use it with music immediately. Better still, you will walk out with a repertoire of the simpler moves at the ready for the next time you hit the dance floor with your friends.
Some of my favourites are the Funky Chicken, the Grapevine, the Watusi, and something called the Backing up the Commodore (I'm pretty sure Anna made that one up). I'm not saying that I necessarily keep those friends after I've busted said moves on a club dancefloor, but it feels amazing to be able to do it! Despite being run in pubs, it is called an academy with very good reason; Anna takes uncoordinated, rhythmless dance-haters and turns them into polished performers in the space of an hour. As long as you do what she says with the enthusiasm she requests, you will also wake up the next day hurting in all the places you want to lose girth from. And you can do all of this with a beer in one hand.
Anna leads her class with a passion and enthusiasm that is more contagious than the flu
The reason you really need to check out the academy though, is Anna herself. Crimson lipstick, platform boots and teased hair, she is every part the Go-Go dancer on the outside. And on the inside, she just happens to be hilarious. My abs get an amazing workout just from laughing at the constant stream of jokes and funny anecdotes. She never seems to run out of material or lose her comic energy. For that reason I don't even notice the time pass, and am usually disappointed when the lesson is over. Anna is clearly deeply passionate about dance, and lives and breathes it. Because of this she makes it effortless to share her enthusiasm, even if you go in thinking you don't like dance.
The atmosphere of the classes is energetic but relaxed and fun, and fairly co-ed too. It is always an entertaining and rewarding evening. I am very surprised that no one thought of mixing exercise and alcohol before, but am glad that Anna did. If you want to get fitter but struggle with the treadmill, and/or love doing things that are fun, interesting, and a little bit different, give Anna's Go-Go Academy a go-go (Sorry. Couldn't resist). You can just tell your brain it's going to the pub, and it will be way too far into its first bootscoot to do anything about it when it realises what you're really doing.
Anna's Go-Go Academy runs at the Gasometer Hotel in Collingwood on Tuesdays (7pm, 8.30pm), the Bella Union Bar at Trades Hall in Carlton on Wednesdays (6.30pm), and the Victoria Hotel in Brunswick on Thursdays (6.30pm, 8pm). It is a guaranteed fun night.