On my first full day of vacation, my dear friend, Bea*, who lives near the cottage we are renting, invited me to join her at a Zumba class.
What is zumba? The easiest definition I found was this: “Zumba combines high energy and motivating music with unique moves”. It is an exercise program designed in the 1990’s by a Columbian dancer/choreographer.
I went in fully expecting full-figured women in hot pink spandex aerobi-cizing like Richard Simmons. Instead, it was way
less crazy more civilized. Our instructor was a 5 foot nothing, 90 pound sprite in black leggings, who floated across the floor. The studio itself only had one wall of shame mirrors – all the better to witness my humiliation.
“You know,” I confided in Bea, “I haven’t worked out since we trained for Mud Hero…6 years ago”. Bea just laughed and walked away.
We started “slow” – which is code for “getting our butts in gear”. This was no slow moving ballad but a hectic, hopped-up-on-caffeine kind of dance party. There was a lot of arm-flailing, side-stepping, twerking kind of stuff happening, as well as a lot of embarrassed grinning. I’m referring to my own reflection, of course. Everyone else moved in rhythm like a well-oiled dance ensemble. They were the cast of Swan Lake; I was clearly a goose!
I stepped to the back for a drink just as the instructor chimed, “That was a great warm up. Let’s get moving!” She was perky and enthusiastic, and clearly misguided if she thought I could do this. I nearly choked on my water.
Half-way through song 3, Bea whispered in my ear, “you’re picking this up quickly. You’re a natural!” Natural disaster, maybe. I mean, when Mount St. Helens blew it’s top in 1980, it was an impression site, but then came all the fallout, and that mountain was never the same again.
Most of the next 30 minutes were a blur. The instructor kept calling out instructions – up, down, left, right…and naming body parts – elbows, hips, shoulders. She also used verbs – punch it, shake it, move it…and adjectives – sassy, sexy, light. Can anyone tell me how to make dying a long, torturous death look sexy?
By now, the heat in my face had reached volcanic proportions. The grinning pixie she-devil smiled and announced “we’re going to do the arm song next”. Everyone groaned. I wondered, what kind of new hell is this? “Keep them up” she yelled at me. Up? Up? I didn’t even know if they were still attached!
I was hugging the giant fan in the corner when they called my friend up to lead the class. Did I mention she works at this gym, and she attends this class for fun. For FUN! (masochist)! The clock said only 40 minutes had passed…and there was another 20 to go!
Bea led us in 2 songs, all focusing on leg work. I was still trying to keep up but every time she stood up, my legs flat-out refused. Jello had more structure. And when she dropped to the floor, I could feel the hysteria rising. It was a fight or flight response and I was clearly not ready to die. Fortunately, the song was cut off, which broke the tension and gave me a moment to hug the room fan again.
Every song seemed to be a combination of salsa, hip-hop, bollywood moves. I recognized a few from my belly dancing classes. I will never make it as an exotic dancer. And every song was bouncy and upbeat. I was just beat.
But it was also a lot of fun.
Occasionally, I caught on to the routine. I was still a goose next to the swans, but a little less uncoordinated. And even though I was still sweating at 3 a.m. and glowing like a red Christmas tree light, I wasn’t as sore as I thought I would be the next day. I fully expected to spend the remainder of the week shuffling between the kitchen and the bathroom, and waving my family off for time at the beach.
There’s another class tonight and I’m debating going.
*renamed to protect this hottie!