Start Your Day with a 'classic' experience--The Met's 'Museum Workout'


By Miles Harter, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 23, 2017

Who wouldn't want to start their day frolicking around the Metropolitan Museum of Art before opening hours to such lively standards as "Staying Alive" and "Dance to the Music," all the while taking in the Met's beautiful spaces and magnificent works of art?

The MetLiveArts has commissioned a new work entitled, The Museum Workout, whereby participants are able to exercise within the confines of the museum while also experiencing all the splendid art throughout. The routine is both physical and interactive, and is led by two enthusiastic and athletic dancers, choreographer Monica Bill Barnes and dance partner Anna Bass, both wearing elegant brown and gold sequined dresses with matching New Balance workout shoes. At the session I attended, the engaging dancers introduced themselves, told us about the program, and instructed everyone to follow their moves closely.

Leading the group of about twenty through a workout to the memorable tunes of such fabulous artists as the Bee Gees and Lionel Richie, Robert Saenz de Viteri (creative producing director of Monica Bill Barnes & Company) followed us around with a laptop broadcasting the selected soundtrack to our workout, which included jogging, brisk walking, and dancing. For brief intervals, we stopped before classic sculptures and lovely paintings, and were led in stationary calisthenics. At one point, moving forward during the exquisite "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," it was as if we had turned into the Von Trapp children (sans the play clothes made from drapes) from The Sound of Music as they sang "Do Re Mi," biking and dancing through Salzburg. We all became the stars of this "performance art" piece. At various stops throughout the museum, we heard the recorded voice of another collaborator of the work, writer/illustrator Maira Kalman, offering her thoughts about the Met and perspective of the experience.

The actual workout consists of a two-mile walk/jog/dance, lasting 45 minutes, and leading the participant through various wings and exhibits of the museum. Both Monica and Anna moved gracefully, and as we followed their motions, we received the full benefit of a workout. As a certified personal trainer and endurance athlete accustomed to running the 6.1 mile loop around Central Park, I was cheerfully surprised by this light cardiovascular interval workout. Especially gratifying were the arm routines, as we frequently moved our arms in harmony with Monica and Anna's maneuvers. The interactive workout concludes in The Charles Engelhard Court, offering an expansive view of Central Park and its joggers. Although it was a beautiful morning outside, this was one time I was glad to be having my workout inside the museum.

The Museum Workout takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, Thursdays - Sundays through February 12; sessions begin at 8:30am. For more information and to buy tickets click here.

Cover: The Museum Workout; photo: Paula Lobo

Miles Harter, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes about theater performance and lifestyle events.

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