I AM KLASSY'S HUSBAND, and I watched her bring something
new into the world yesterday. The Danskin Triathlon is the biggest
women's triathlon in the country. First a half mile swim, then
a twelve mile bike ride, and then a three mile run.
But Klassy didn't run. She WalkDanced the
three miles, being cheered the whole way by people who had never
seen anyone WalkDance before. As she danced by, I overheard one
man say to his daughter, "She sure is having fun. And nobody
else seems to be." I don't know if anyone else was having
fun, but Klassy was having a ball. She was jamming to music,
moving her body in a free self-expression, and finishing her
first triathlon in style.
The reason I say she brought something new
into the world is because most of us have never put on headphones
and danced down the street. It would seem freaky, and in fact,
sometimes Klassy gets strange looks. But the same thing happened
when people first started jogging. Up until then, if someone
was running down the street, something was wrong: They were being
chased by a cop or trying to keep their child from being run
over by a car.
The strange looks will fade, and then we will
have a new form of exercise, one that is physically and psychologically
better for your health than anything going. And it is more fun.
WalkDancing is low-impact exercise, and it
works peripheral muscles. Straight-ahead exercises like running
or walking only work muscles along a narrow corridor. In fact,
this imbalance in muscle development can cause problems down
the road. WalkDancing works the whole body in balance.
Psychologically, I don't think there is a
better activity. WalkDancing raises a person's spirits, sometimes
dramatically. It is the only thing I know that can so consistently
produce a peak experience. Feeling ecstasy may seem frivolous
to you, but it is very important for psychological health. Abraham
Maslow, in his studies on exceptional people, found that self-actualized
people had more peak experiences than the rest of the population.
In a way, the ecstasy can open a person to better ways of experiencing
the world, bestowing strength and sanity to the WalkDancer. It
is not a slight thing.
And finally, freedom. WalkDancing is an demonstration
of freedom from our normal self-suppression. By demonstrating
that a person can express herself that way in public, I saw Klassy
open the possibility for others. Near the end of the race, as
Klassy WalkDanced toward the finish line, another woman was running
up behind her, and when she saw what Klassy was doing, she did
a short dance herself, twirled around, and kept running. That
is the beginning. Some of the people watching or participating
yesterday will recognize that what Klassy was doing looks like
a lot of fun, and what's the hurry? They will ask themselves,
"Would it be better to beat last year's time or would I
rather fully enjoy this wonderful event?" Many people will
opt for enjoyment and some of them will have enough courage to
WalkDance, down the street, around the park, and in the next
Others will see them and try it themselves.
Eventually, it will become something familiar, and this new form
of exercise, this new freedom in self-expression, this new way
to create peak experiences on demand, will become a common feature
on our streets, radiating happiness into the world. As the announcer
said when Klassy crossed over the finish line, "That's the
way to do it!"