WalkDance debut

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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 triathlon.

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!"

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