But when you get to college, the options for PE become diverse and actually interesting. You can take yoga, Frisbee, Scottish Dance, kick-boxing, the options are dizzying. The one downfall of this cornucopia of classes is that if you can get in, you get to participate. That means that sometimes people who are crazy and have no idea the limits of their body (i.e: Me) can take classes far, far outside their ability range.
Which is how I ended up in both a Martial Arts course and a Ballet class. In the same quarter. On the same day. Because I have no sense of limitations apparently. Oh, and I am a crazy person. But only when it comes to common sense.
Let's start with Martial Arts. There is a very good reason that you sign a waiver before you start class. Remember how in high school you couldn't do cool stuff because they were afraid students would get hurt and then the school would get sued? Well here all you have to do is sign a waiver and you get to hit people. In the name of learning.
Okay, so it's not exactly like that. You're practicing a specific defense and attack. So you have to attack someone in a specific way. But right now I'm sitting with a raised lump of a bruise about the size of a Pink Pearl eraser on my right arm. From twenty-thirty minutes of practice.
Oh, and for anyone who writes fight scenes? I think everyone who does this needs to take a martial arts class. So they know what it's like to get hit repeatedly and keep going. They know the stamina it takes to not give up and the way your body reacts to certain hits. You don't know what it's like to not drop your weapon when you get hit until you know how dead your arm gets when hit repeatedly in the same spot.
Now, for ballet. I will admit here and now that I am not a dancer in the least. I am actually probably about as far from dancer you can get. The only reason i could learn choreography is that I am stubborn and memorize things quickly. It won't ever look as fluid and effortless as an actual dancer can make it, but it works for my purposes.
I chose ballet because I thought "Hey, it's pretty and there's not a ton of complex moves (step-ball-change kills me every time). This'll be great." And yes, it is slower, there's not a ton of complexity to the moves I've learned (though bear in mind I am in a basic ballet class).
However, it takes a lot of stamina and control. Um, I am the girl with low blood pressure and practically no endurance to speak of. Stamina and control aren't exactly my strong points. By the end of that class, my head was spinning a little and my legs had turned to jelly. But I didn't trip over my own feet, so score one for the klutz.
Again, if you are writing about a dancer, take a beginning class just to get an appreciation for it. Actually, for anything you want to write about you should try and find a way to experience a version of it, participating yourself (except for drugs, because that just seems like a bad idea). It helps to have experience of what your characters are dealing with. Of course, this isn't going to work for everything, but for what you can get to, it gives you a better grasp of the experience. At least, it has for me.
And if you can't actually experience it (like being an astronaut or living through WWII) you can always find someone with firsthand experience to talk to. Yes, terrifying I know, but we all do what we must for our art :)