Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2004 / 16 Teves 5765

Felice Cohen

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Consumer Reports

Why not make promises you can keep? | As we prepare to ring in yet another New Year, we cannot ignore that ever burning question, "What is your New Year's Resolution?"

For those who have a hard time keeping theirs, check out Their resolutions come with tips from how to quit smoking (eat carrots) to ways of getting more exercise (wash the car by hand).

Yet even though they seem achievable, most people's resolutions repeat themselves year after year. As a regular at New York Sports Club, I'm prepared for the influx of "Resolutioners" who aim to lose those same "10 pounds," and plan accordingly until February, when the treadmills are once again accessible.

According to a recent American Express poll of New Yorkers aged 25-35, of the 41% who said they did make New Year's resolutions, less than half said they'd keep it through the month, while 11% admitted to breaking theirs "somewhere between one and a few days after the new year."

What's the point of making uncommitted resolutions? Why not make promises you can keep, such as having more fun? A colleague of my parents starts each day by asking himself, "What am I going to do for fun today?" This simple motto not only ensures he'll take a lunch time bike ride or read a good book, but guarantees a daily smile.

I love the TV show "Fame" and the movie "A Chorus Line," with their choreographed dance moves and nail-biting auditions. It looks like fun to dance in unison with a group. Armed with this new resolution I started Hip Hop classes this year.

Turns out Hip Hop is not only fun, but a great cardio work out that finds me sweating and smiling when I'm done. How many resolutions can you say that about?

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Instructor Levi Claiborne, 36, a classically trained dancer who's been in music videos with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, creates new routines each week at the NYSC on 41st and Third, where he motivates the packed class of people with varied dancing abilities. The first class found me hiding in the back, concentrating on not getting whacked by an elbow. Even my own.

Levi bounces effortlessly through his routine, occasionally throwing in a dance step that finds us facing the reality that we cannot channel Beyonce's "back" and when this happens he is encouraging.

"Release the booty!" Levi yells, "This is fun, not an audition!" The room full of hip hop wannabes laugh, as self-conscious thoughts of looking hip melt away. For what's hip about his class is not about fitting in, but getting fit. We've learned that in order to get down in this city, you need to get up. Up off your feet.

After a few months I moved to the front of the class. My eyes no longer follow Levi when we "Take it from the top!" but instead on my own, now more coordinated feet.

Some of the participants have taken dance, some have two left feet, but what we all have in common is the resolution to have fun. I'll never be a back up dancer for Madonna, but from the smile on my face, you can't tell the difference. And the best part? I've kept my resolution.

Comment on JWR contributor Felice Cohen's column by clicking here.


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© 2004, Felice Cohen