In the pursuit of letting my body heal from shin splints, I have been looking at alternatives to running as my primary cardiological exercise. Last week, I discussed my introduction to the Wii video game “Just Dance.” One would think after the disastrous results of discovering at age 36 that I no longer possess the moves I once had at a much younger age, I would have stayed away from other activities that require one to shake their money maker, as it were. However, it seems I have no limits when it comes to the ways I will embarrass myself in pursuit of sweating away the extra pounds. In that spirit, let me share my experience with Zumba.
I first tried it sometime last year. I went to a class at my gym after hearing from multiple friends that it was both fun and effective. I think more than a few lied and said it was easy to jump into. Maybe it was — for them.
The classes were memorable for two reasons. One, I was terrible. Two, there were lots of mirrors. I couldn’t possibly watch the teacher long enough to follow a step when my own reflection was too hilariously distracting to ignore. I even caught glances from other participants that made me laugh out loud. Some had an involuntary look of concern or shock; others quickly looked away as to not laugh out loud themselves. One lady just smiled really big at me and said “It gets easier, I promise.”
I think I went for about two weeks before I threw in the towel. Apparently, it does not get easier for everyone.
So recently, when a friend offered me her Zumba DVDs, my first response was “Thanks, but no thanks.” I told her of my public failure, but she said if she could do it, anyone could. She also said the DVDs used step-by-step instruction, something I did not get in the class I attended. (The class I tried, however, was an advanced class. An intro class was not offered, so I hold no ill will towards the class for my slowness.)
I brought the Zumba DVDs home and popped in the introduction to basics. It actually did give great step-by-step instructions, and before I knew it, I was flinging hips all over the place.
Not that I think I have in any way, shape or form turned into a Latin goddess all of a sudden. I don’t have the punishment of mirrors in my living room, but I feel certain the moves still look just as discombobulated. In a way, though, it is much more fun this way. It’s like the old adage says: “Dance like there’s no one watching.” Now I can see why friends said Zumba was fun. The music is upbeat, the time flies and somewhere in my head I picture myself near a beach at a fabulous party. Wait, let me amend that — I picture myself thin again near a beach at a fabulous party. I’m wearing a colorful exotic dress and I’m tearing up the dance floor. (Did I mention I also picture myself younger and possessing perfect skin?)
Somehow between the ornate fantasy with the Latin flavor and the stark reality of my living room (and my worn out yoga pants and cut up T-shirts) I find myself dancing around like a lunatic, but one who is having a really good time working up a sweat. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?