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You’ve probably heard lots of buzz about the planet Mercury this month, or maybe you’ve felt a little out of whack and just can’t seem to figure out why. Well, the answer is retrograde. It began on October 31st and will last until November 20th, so right now, we’re still in the thick of it. If you’re wondering what the heck that means, read on. We asked our resident astrology guru, Heather McCormick, to give us a quick run-down on Mercury retrograde and what you can do to get ahead of it this month.
When Mercury retrogrades, Mercury appears to be moving backward in its orbit. This happens three or four times a year, and lasts for around three weeks at a time. Mercury retrogrades are great, as they catalyze change by shifting the energy related to our communication and expression. This type of energy can be frustrating and test our patience, or it can allow for introspection and growth, depending on how you choose to participate. Mercury retrograde can make things feel weird, uncomfortable, and difficult, but these are the emotions necessary for personal advancement. It’s a time to review, observe, and pause the mind. I like to think of a Mercury retrograde as a mini New Year’s. At the end of every year, we assess our actions and make changes. Mercury retrograde is a marker, just like New Year’s. You can review what you learned during the past “year” and your goals for moving forward during this period to be in better alignment for continual growth.
Depending on which sign or signs Mercury journeys through during retrograde, specific energies will surface (think of your zodiac sign). This retrograde is in Scorpio. When I think of signs and what energies they have, I try to dissect the word. For example, Scorpio sounds like scorpions, which are piercing and deep. The colors associated with scorpions are black and red. They hide in the dark and prey at night, and they typically only hurt humans when they are stepped on. Mercury retrograding in Scorpio will target areas that are intense and sensitive. That means something different to each of us, depending on where we require healing. As I mentioned earlier, Mercury in Scorpio will provide an opportunity for headway and enduring transformation. Don’t fear the pain, but expect this retrograde to sting.
The sign that Mercury is retrograding in sends out a general vibe to everyone. Scorpio demands transformation. It also rules a different area of life for each individual sign, which is where we see it impact us. The area of life that Scorpio rules for your sun sign holds the highest potential for change. The more attention you bring to that area of your life at this time, the more you will get from this retrograde. Here’s what you can do...
Aries - Pay attention to the power you give to your thoughts.
Taurus - Restructure how you relate to others.
Gemini - Align your lifestyle with purpose.
Cancer - Own the ways you unconventionally express yourself.
Leo - Understand the roots of your home.
Virgo - Communicate to strengthen your connections.
Libra - Be aware that what brings you joy is an extension of yourself.
Scorpio - Recognize your relationship to your own agenda.
Sagittarius - Make the unseen seen with your creative process.
Capricorn - Contribute your most unique opinions and ideas without judgment.
Aquarius - Strengthen your self-worth through achievements.
Pisces - Adjust your perspective to create opportunities.
The feelings and situations we avoid and blame during this time are exactly what we need to confront. To make the most out of this time, avoid having quick reactions, since Mercury retrograde is notorious for creating technical difficulties and can increase frustrations. Addressing challenging situations is never a bad thing, but take a moment before you switch on your autopilot reaction. Mercury retrograde gives us that moment as a choice with the potential to make impactful change. Also, steer clear of major binding decisions like signing a contract. If you can’t avoid this, cross your T’s and dot your I’s twice, and have your neighbor double-check it for you.
Reassess, reflect, and realign with what is true to you—no matter what your sign is. Embrace what finds you during this time, for it is an opportunity for transformation. When we look back on our past with a Scorpionic lense, situations, thoughts, and people that carry a bittersweetness will stand out. Think about what area of your life Scorpio effects during this time based on your sign and see what surfaces. You don’t need to understand astrology, to be honest with yourself. Seek ownership in all areas of your life and let go of blaming.
Mimic the motion of the planet. Shifting your mindset and being open to other perspectives is progressive in itself, especially if you are willing to revisit the past during a Mercury retrograde. Be prepared for things to be intense and serious (think journaling and meditating to 90s grunge instead of having a heart-to-heart with your best friend). Thank Scorpio. Proactively take care of your physical and emotional needs so that you can do intentional work. No matter what your sign is, increase awareness of your behaviors and reactions to your surroundings to make retrogrades work for you instead of against you.
Still curious about astrology? Find out what your horoscope *actually* means to learn even more about your sign and how all this planet stuff really works. While you’re at it, be sure to check out The Best Beauty + Wellness Treatments for your Zodiac Sign and The Best Workouts Based on Your Zodiac Sign!
Have you ever come across a fitness class on Instagram and thought, that looks so fun, only to scroll on by knowing you’d never in a million years actually sign up for it? Because, same.
For me, it’s always been dance. Pole dancing, twerking, salsa, ballet, Zumba... I don’t even think twice about booking. There is no way in hell I’m heading into a studio with a bunch of strangers and attempting to follow along to some moves I’ve never tried before.
...and then there was COVID.
When studios everywhere started to shut down, virtual fitness started to blow up—and all of the sudden, I had the opportunity to try basically anything without leaving my house (or feeling at all embarrassed). It was a silver lining and a kick in the ass all wrapped into one.
I started small, doing the classes I was most comfortable with. Once I had perfected my online yoga routine, I needed a little more oomph, so, I stepped it up to HIIT. I was proud of myself for getting back into the swing of things after a long the-world-is-ending-so-I-don't-need-to-work-out break. But still, I hadn’t fully gotten out of my comfort zone. I had taken in-person yoga and HIIT classes before, so even though I had tried out some new studios online, I had a general idea of what to expect.
Then, my coworkers told me about Rachel Vickhouse and MVP Dance Fit. Rachel and some other badass, beautiful ladies coined the phrase “Lift Your Booty, Love Your Body ™,” and that’s what MVP Dance Fit is all about. They told me this studio offered twerk fitness classes, and that right now, they’re not only offering virtual, but they’re giving one free class to all newbies, too.
I was curious.
Without really looking into it much further, I trusted my coworkers and signed up for the signature “Swerk” class (Sweat, Work, Twerk) to take after work one day.
Or so I thought...
My first mistake was not checking the time zone before booking. I thought I was signing up for a class at 5:30 PM, but turns out, the studio is in Ohio. Seeing that I live in California, my timing was all off. Luckily, I realized my mistake when I received the link to join the class in my inbox, and I had time to get ready to twerk in the middle of my workday (whoops).
I usually exercise out on my deck, but there was no way I was going to give my neighbors a free show (although I’m sure it would’ve spiced up their Monday). So, there I was—at 2:30 PM on a Monday afternoon, dragging my coffee table to the side, shutting my blinds and curtains, filling up my water bottle, and getting ready to dance like no one was watching.
When I logged on, I saw lots of faces on the screen. One woman was dancing while doing her laundry, another was rocking to the beat in her living room, and another had a prime weight room setup I was pretty jealous of. About half of the participants had their cameras turned on and were starting to warm up (AKA dance around) to the Drake song that was playing, while the other half kept their videos off. Because these women looked like seasoned pros, and I was a total newbie, I opted to keep mine off. (Yes, this is 100% an excuse. I know you see right through me.)
Then, Rachel herself appeared onscreen with French braids and bright pink lipstick. I’ve never seen someone with more energy—I swear, I think she was drinking Diet Coke out of her tumbler, but I can’t be sure. She let everyone know there were a bunch of first-timers in class, and they’d all have to show us how it’s done (no pressure). She asked if anyone had any song requests, and the chat started popping off.
After that, there was no messing around. The first song started playing, and she got right to it. Right about now, I was so glad I had my camera off because I must’ve looked ridiculous. She was moving so fast, and I was stumbling trying to keep up.
She went from sliding left to right, to dropping low, to lifting a leg and landing in a squat, to hands-on-the-floor-ass-in-the-air, all in the span of a song.
But after just a few minutes, I started getting the hang of it. The choreography repeated, with different moves for different parts of the song, and once I figured them out, I was able to keep up.
As soon as I got the hang of song #1, we were onto the next. And I love a challenge, so I was ready. Throughout class, we switched from more cardio-intensive songs to leg-focused dances involving squats and lunges. Halfway through, I was sweating. I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having, while also getting such a good workout at the same time.
At the end, I was so proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone, and I definitely felt the high of a great workout on a day when I was feeling some serious Monday energy (or lack of energy) beforehand. I’m so thankful virtual was an option, because, without it, I don’t know if I ever would’ve tried a class like this.
During class, I knew I’d end up being sore, and over the next few days, I proved myself right. The next morning, I stood up out of bed and I felt it in my quads and glutes. Thinking I’d be good by the weekend, I planned an eight-mile hike for Saturday morning with some friends. I was so sore I thought they were going to have to leave me on the mountain. Thanks, Rachel.
1. Check the time zone.
Luckily, I figured it out just in time, but if I didn’t check my email, I easily could’ve missed my class. The beauty of online fitness classes is you can book them at studios all over the world. But, with that, comes time differences. Whenever you’re booking a virtual class, make sure you check the time zone and figure out where the studio is located, so you don’t have to ditch your afternoon meetings. (Unless that’s what you’re going for. Then, more power to you.)
2. Wear shoes.
This might seem obvious, but to me, it wasn’t. When I was getting ready to start class, I wasn’t sure if I needed to wear shoes or if I should have a yoga mat, towel, or weights ready. I wasn’t really sure of anything, to be honest. So, after I made some space in my living room, I looked up MVP Dance Fit on Instagram to see if I could find some answers. From the looks of it, no equipment was necessary, and shoes were probably a good idea. So, if you’re reading this, I hope I saved you some trouble. All you need is some shoes and a little bit of space.
3. Know that no one’s watching you.
Camera or not, no one can really see what you’re doing. And no one cares. I started off the class in gallery mode so I could see everyone, but to follow along with Rachel’s movements, I had to have her on full screen, and I couldn’t pay attention to anyone else in class. Having the camera on just gives everyone the sense that you’re in class together, just like you would be in person. So, maybe next time, I’ll toughen up and leave it on.
4. Maybe have some caffeine.
Should I be encouraging that? I don’t know. But man, that girl had a lot of energy. And dancing takes a lot out of you. About halfway through, when I started getting tired, I wished I’d had something caffeinated before to get me through. But maybe that’s just me. The good music and Rachel’s encouragement definitely got me going, and I had a lot of fun with it.
5. Try it with friends.
Distracting or helpful? I’m not sure. But I do know it would’ve been so fun to have seen all my friends dancing around in little boxes on the screen from their respective houses. And since the first class is free, it probably wouldn’t have been too hard to convince them. So, if you’re planning on trying it out, get some friends to join! I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk about after.
I’d recommend this class to anyone who likes hip-hop and wants to spice up their routine. If you’ve thought about trying a twerk fitness class, just do it already. There are literally no more excuses (coming from someone who would literally never set foot in a dance studio for real).
Maybe pole dancing is more up your alley, or maybe you’ve never tried a HIIT class before. Whatever it is, just know that it's the perfect time to get over your exercise embarrassment and try something new.