West Side, Best Side


Last Thursday I had a very interesting conditioning class.  Normally the music our instructor uses is something electronic with a heavy beat to keep us going.  This time though, we were doing pushups and candlestick tuck-jumps to a very different beat.  That of West Side Story.

Throughout class my instructor made many a face, most of which where him acting along to the music.  One face he made, however, stuck with me.  At one point, with his eyes wide and his lips pursed he looked at me as I did candlestick (where you lay on your shoulders on the floor with hands behind you and your feet straight up in the air) full turns (which you roll up into in a single motion before rolling back down).  These are by no means a particularly easy exercise.  In fact I would list them as one of the harder ones we normally do.  After the first few I normally have to stop in the middle since I can’t generate enough momentum to get all the way up from the candlestick.  This time though, this time was different.  Every time I popped right up and landed my turns.  I believe we had ten on each side.

My instructor’s quizzical look was pointed directly at me.  After a few I responded to his nonverbal comment, saying, “It’s the music.”  West Side Story is one of my personal musicals (really, who doesn’t like it?) and suddenly I was working out to music I was familiar with and enjoyed.  I’m not generally a fan of pop or electronica.  I see why the heavy beat is useful for keeping a quick tempo when trying to get your fifty pushups done, but I’m still not its biggest fan.  Put on the mambo from the dance at the gym and I’ll be cranking out jumping jacks faster than you can say, “Jerome Robbins”.


How does music affect your ability to perform?


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