DANCE YOUR ASS OFF SERIES PREMIERE

Thanks to a comment from the executive producer on my prior post, I remembered to watch the series premiere last night of the newest TV dance show (Oxygen network).

It was sweet. All of the contestants are “real people,” some with dance background, most with none, and all of whom are overweight, some severely and life-threateningly so. They each work with a professional dance partner, a nutritionist, a doctor, and a fitness coach to learn to eat right, maintain physical fitness, and of course dance. For many of these contestants, success on the show is a matter of life and death — no exaggeration. That’s what morbidly obese means — it’s not just a loose term that means “gross” or something; it means the obesity could have morbid results. The doctor was very interesting. He talked about how for many of the contestants, fat had leaked into their liver, their pancreas, and their diaphragm, making it harder for those organs to function, harder for the contestants to breathe. I knew it could cause diabetes but I didn’t know fat could do that – could spread to other organs, like cancer, and overtake them.

Anyway, it’s a competition of course, like almost all reality TV these days, so a person is eliminated each week. The dancing is all fast-paced and aerobic, which makes sense. The dances last night were chosen by the contestant — hip hop, disco, swing or jive. Next week everyone is supposed to compete in disco.

There are three judges and each contestant receives a score, based on the quality of their dancing. They then weigh themselves, and the percentage of their total body weight that they lost that week is added onto their dance score for a total score. The person with the lowest score leaves. There seems to be no audience vote.

Which is fine, because it’s completely impossible to root for one person at the expense of the rest. Of course you want them all to do well. And it’s kind of sad that it has to be a competition anyway, given the goal of the show (which is of course to lose weight but there’s also an incentive in the form of a $100,000 prize). But competitions are what audiences seem to want these days. As it was, the first person to leave last night was the person who probably had the least to lose: she’s an attractive young woman, a former model, and had only recently begun to put on the pounds. But she wasn’t anywhere near as heavy as the rest. Hopefully, she had enough time on the show (meaning, the weeks — I assume it was weeks — spent preparing), to change her lifestyle.

I think the show is a very good idea, but I do hope its important message is able to rub off on the general public and it doesn’t just become a spectacle like so much reality TV. The reason many thin people are thin is that they have happy, fulfilling, active lifestyles. They appreciate the taste of food and so seek well-made, quality food (ie: eat canned asparagus with dinner and you’re probably going to have to get rid of the horrendous aftertaste with a monster bag of Oreos or whatnot; eat asparagus vinegarette with a nice glass of wine and no need for dessert), in moderation and without gorging (you can’t appreciate the taste if you’re only going to gobble it right down) and without ever depriving themselves of their favorites. (ie: eat chocolate and be happy, but buy a quality bar and you’ll be much more fulfilled than if you eat crap from a vending machine, in which case you’re probably going to have to eat a few bars to be likewise sated).

I know it sounds funny for a blogger with the words “skinny white girl” in her tag line to be lecturing on weight loss, but honestly my mother is the same size as many of the contestants on the show — actually bigger; she’s really too big to dance — and she has a whole host of health problems and I worry about her daily. The only difference between us is lifestyle (city versus small town) and our approach to food.

Of course another reason thin people are thin is that they don’t have time to eat so much because they’re out being active, and being active is fun, not a chore. You don’t have to go to the gym, you don’t have to run laps. You can lose weight and become fit by learning to dance, so long as you’re learning proper technique and learning to use proper muscle groups. And then you’re not just losing weight but getting sculpted as well :)

I think this show is a great idea. It’s on every Monday night from 10-11:30 EST, 9 pm Central. Visit their website to learn some of the dance moves on the show, watch episodes, and submit your own videos. You can also join their Facebook page to discuss. For weight loss, I recommend your local dance studio — preferably ballet (I’m not kidding; just because barre work is slow doesn’t mean you’re not getting an intense workout, avec the body sculpting I was talking about!) If you’re in NY, the Harkness Center at the 92 Street Y is a very good dance studio with a very non-intimidating atmosphere. If you’re braver, try Steps on the west side (be warned, famous dancers take class there). If you want to work at home, I highly highly HIGHLY recommend this.

9 Comments

  1. Ah, it's just like Diet on the Dancefloor!

  2. Here's another suggestion: finding groups who have open dances (I DJ or one, participate in two more).Usually they're cheaper than lessons and many times (at least out here) they include at least a half hour lesson then open dancing. It's a great way to get active.

    I'd love to take ballet because I think it'll help me but alas right now, saving money for grad school :)

  3. I think that, if you want to talk about reasons for obesity, etc, you can't ignore the strong genetic component. Appetite starts in your brain – just like people have different sex drives, people have different drives for food as well as individual and highly varied metabolic systems. (Actually, there are a lot of interesting social comparisons between the evolving moralities of sex and food)

    That doesn't mean that healthy food isn't important for everybody, and exercise is vital, but those things may or may not result in weight loss or ever fitting into the 'normal' range in the BMI figures. Some people will never be in that 18 – 25 range without eating unhealthy diets (i.e. too few calories), which tends to lead to yoyo weight gain and loss, which is about the most unhealthy thing anyone can do to their bodies. As someone who is a gourmet cook, a regular exerciser, and a healthy overweight person, your explanation about living a healthy lifestyle to maintain a 'healthy' weight comes off as simplistic at best and condescending at worst. I assume you meant it in the best possible way, but it is important to know how your words affect people who actually deal with weight problems every day.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/07

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  5. I love your show and am very interested to know how i can audition for next season.

  6. How does one become a contestant on dance your ass off?

  7. May I please get information on how to become a contestant on dance your ass off? I love the show & I think it will do my body good.

  8. May I please get information on how to become a contestant on dance your ass off? I love the show & I think it will do my body good.

  9. I never watch the show!but i think its good people dancing to lose weight its healthy.

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