When it comes to maintaining a fitness routine, part of the challenge is finding a cardio workout that doesn’t make you want to curse the instructor’s existence. Luckily, for my #32before32 challenge, I found two activities that got my heart pumping and replaced lying on the couch watching reality TV.

Last Saturday I tried a leisurely mode of torture — I mean exercise. Those of you who live in Northwest, D.C. might have noticed three “bike gangs” — groups of about 25 to 50 people — slowing down traffic, with one of the group’s leaders blasting Estelle, MJ and Madonna on a boombox. Sorry about that, but we had business to take care of. I was participating in the Capitol City Bike Tour, which features murals commissioned by MuralsDC in conjunction with Words, Beats & Life and BicycleSPACE . It was only an eight-mile trek that lasted about three hours, but if you stepped out of the house Saturday, you felt that good old sun beating on your back. So, imagine riding through the city, dodging cars and Mac trucks, in addition to facing the heat. Lovely.

We toured parts of the city and stopped at various murals to “oooooh” and “aaaaah.” Besides “riding around and gettin’ it,” I played tour guide for some of these pieces and provided quick blurbs about their background. That was fun and informative, save for the moments when a mural was at the top of a hill and my out-of-breath self had to get on the mike. At the end of the tour I was parched, funky, and my hip sockets and hind parts were sore. But it was all worth it. Being able to marvel at some of the gems we pass by daily made me almost forget about my numb calf muscles and drenched-with-sweat back.

Those of you at the National Mall on Sunday, Aug. 12, might have noticed hundreds of booty poppers in bright neon colors around the Sylvan Theater. I was one of those hundreds participating in a Megaxe class. “Mega what?!?” you ask. Megaxe (pronounced mega-shay) is a two-hour version of Kazaxe, . (pronounced kah-zah-shay) a dance-fitness technique out of Northern Virginia created by Azuka Bom that’s like no other. Think of it as Zumba on crack: Brazilian funk + hip-hop + samba + reggae + SWEAT= high-intensity aerobic dance.

Bom hosted Megaxe to raise $5,000 for the Special Olympics, and she surpassed that goal by $3,775. WHOOHOO! But I’m convinced the session was really a ploy to A) get me sun-burned and B) make me pretend I was shaking it in a Rihanna video. It was sooooo much fun! I didn’t go into the experience completely blind, though. I took a hour-long Kazaxe class two weeks before the event, so naturally I thought, “What harm could an extra hour in the sun do?!?” A lot if you don’t pace yourself.

I paused a few times to sit in the grass during the class. It was either humble myself and do that, or pass out. I took as many water breaks between songs as humanly possible, but I sweated most of it out in a matter of minutes. This is why hydration is important, folks. You don’t want the embarrassment of collapsing during a dance fitness class! By the end of the session, my abs where burning from the Beyonce-esque gyrations, pelvic thrusting and pumping, and body rolls. Earl, my jiggly-puff belly, however, is still in tact.

So, for those of you who despise the gym or treadmill, maybe it’s time to look into trying something new, something outside of your comfort zone. A dance fitness class like Kazaxe will make you feel like you’re at a party at Patty Boom Boom, and a bike ride through your neighborhood might expose you to things you never notice while driving or taking the bus. Try it. You might like it!

BicycleSPACE offers group rides such as the “7th Street Social” Thursdays at 8 p.m. and “Cupcake Ramble” Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. The Cupcake Ramble might convince some of you to hop on a bike because at the end of the ride, the guide (a pastry chef) usually has some edible delights for participants. I’m going to try to do the social ride at least twice a month.

If you want to “shake it” in Kazaxe, head out to the ABGC Bingo Auditorium in Alexandria. Classes are Monday through Saturday at various times. Boot camp is also offered for all you mean, lean, muscle machines. I’m allergic to boot camp, but Kazaxe is definitely something I will incorporate into my weekly routine. Happy dancing!

Leilah Reese is a news aide at The Washington Post. For more updates on her fitness goals, follow her on Twitter and check here each Tuesday for a new blog post.

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