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Shake It, Zumba Style

February 2, 2010

Let me preface this by saying this:
Just because I have no rhythm doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and get down.

Now that that’s out of the way….

When I first moved to New York and was attending the YMCA, I decided to be daring. I took a World Rhythm class after reading the following on the description list:

A fusion fitness workout that combines African, Middle Eastern, Latin and modern dance influences. Gain muscle control, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance. This class is so much fun you will not realize how hard you are working

The class was not fun.  It was awkward.  But not for a lack of trying.  I loved the instructor, Maryann.  I loved learning dance steps from a variety of countries cultures.  I loved the idea of having coordination.  But that’s just the thing; I loved the IDEA of having coordination- but I didn’t actually have very much of it.  I was the youngest person in the class, besides the instructor, by at least 30 years and also seemed to be the only one struggling.  I thought I learned my lesson about any sort of dancing class right then and there.

This is probably why the idea of Zumba classes made me giggle.  I know a lot of people who LOVE Zumba.  The classes always seem to be full of people who leave the room with bigger smiles than I do a 12 year old would display after the crush makes a comment that could be determined as flirting.  Anytime I walk by the room during a regularly scheduled Zumba class, the music pumps me up.  It seems like a good idea.  Until I remember that World Rhythm class.

Zumba Day 1-
But a few Saturday’s ago I was feeling daring.  I woke up thinking I could conquer the world.  [or at least the world of cardio dancing] So I rearranged my gym schedule and made a trade.  Instead of the Saturday Step class I had in mind, I decided to venture into my first Zumba class.

Here are my thoughts chronologically:

– There are 85 people standing outside this door right now.  How in the world are we ever going to fit in there?
– Wow; those three ladies with their daughters huddled in a group whispering look as if they are The Real Housewives of the Capital District.
– What the hell was I thinking?
– Apparently 85 people CAN fit in the room.
– Hello neighbor, this is my elbow.  I will try desperately not to hit you with it.
– Our instructor is a Substitute, Laurie, whom teaches on Friday nights.  Does this mean I need to take the class again to properly review?
– Opening up with a song that is on Glee; BEST IDEA EVER.  Proud Mary Heather keeps on rolling down the river.
– This reminds me of my time as a dancing water animal at Noah’s Ark.  But that’s a story for another day.
-There is a reason I was the student director of the musicals, swing choir, etc. throughout high school.  [Read: Not coordinated.]
– Although, all this calve work is a nice reminder of Shapoopi practice for the Music Man.  If I was student directing the musicals, why was I always learning dance steps? 
– That the good Lord of the Dance that this cute little dancer girl is directly in front of me so that I can better understand the steps.  The instructor seems to be a mile away. 
– This is fun.  Even when I am confused.
– This is fun.  Even when I am tripping over my own two feet.
– This if fun.  Even when those two ladies in front of me went opposite directions towards one another and hit each other in the head. Oops.
– Apparently I’m not the only one who isn’t uncoordinated.
– I feel like I’m burning a billion calories.
– Whenever I do a crossover walk forward I make “bar dancing” face. 
– hahahaha. Oops.
– Wait. It’s over?  Already? How did that happen!?

One hour of Zumba down.  Fun- Check. Community- Check. Smiles- Check. SUCCESS.

Zumba Day 2 –
Wednesday I was supposed to be taking a Pilates class with Jamie; the instructor who tries to kill me every Thursday during Willpower and Grace.  But, some extra special happenings at work lead me to leave the office a little later than anticipated.  Instead of scratching my trip to the gym all together, I decided to take whichever class followed Pilates- which in this case was Zumba with Diane. 

I entered the classroom fairly excited to try Zumba again after the success of my first class.  I somehow found myself in the front row and learned that Diane was not going to be instructing our class and that we would be working with another substitute instructor. 

This class was a bit more of a struggle for me.  I was VERY thankful for those musical and swing choir dance practices I had participated for apparently no reason a decade ago.  I fumbled through a few of the steps, but thanks to the very little bit of experience I had learning 8-counts in my life, I could at least catch up to the rest of the class as I went. 

The Wednesday class was probably only 15-20 people, so I was also able to actually see the instructor and not hit anyone in the face while I was flailing my arms about, which was an added bonus. 

I am for sure going to try the Wednesday night class again soon, because I would like to see what Diane is like as a teacher. [although I should admit right now that I am really hoping to see Diane when I arrive.] I had a hard time following the substitute instructor last week, and I think that made the experience a bit more frustrating.  But overall, the experience was A-Okay.  I left again with a huge smile, and a desire to go back and try again which I think is the best indication of a positive experience. 

Have you tried Zumba or another Dance Class?  What has been your experience?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2010 1:20 pm

    I love your writing style!
    I wish I had a Zumba class to go to! I have the DVD’s, and I love them! It’s a lot of fun, and I’m definitely sweating at the end! I wish I had an instructor there to help me get the steps down, though – the DVD can only do so much.

  2. February 2, 2010 2:28 pm

    Hey Heather!
    I love that you are trying different instructors. I teach Zumba and from what I’ve been told I’m easy to follow and fun. I’ve actually been to other instructor’s Zumba classes and felt totaly lost. There is one women at our YMCA who is fun but very confusing. In all honesty she is probably not following the Zumba method of teaching (which is long and I won’t go into here). Not to mention as instrutctors we are given lots of choerography to chose from so two instructors might do the same song differently. I always try to tell my class this at the begining. Good for you for trying different instructors very smart move. Have fun!

  3. February 2, 2010 4:45 pm

    I’m so glad you are trying Zumba. I love Zumba, but unfortunately my gym doesn’t offer it. they offer “Cardio Latino” which is a really boring class for old ladies, taught by a gay guy who’s idea of a workout is to put his pinkies in the air and smack his own butt. NO JOKE. It was horrible, and I’ve never returned to that class. BUT if they did have Zumba, I’d do it all the time. I think it’s such a fun workout. You really work up a sweat, but it doesn’t feel like work!

    I think it’s great that you’re trying out different instructors– that’s a great idea!

  4. abbynormally permalink
    February 2, 2010 7:28 pm

    Ahhh hahaha I have no coordination either!!! I don’t think I’ll ever try Zumba….sad.

  5. February 2, 2010 8:55 pm

    i want to zumba. i would look like a damn fool.

  6. February 2, 2010 10:33 pm

    I love dance cardio. I’m taking Bulesque Aerobics with my bestie. A friend from high school is a burlesque dancer, so far it’s fun.

  7. February 3, 2010 9:57 am

    I should try Zumba- I think I would like it but would look very odd. I danced for years but can not move my hips in the proper way!

  8. February 3, 2010 10:24 am

    I want you to know that as I sit here in pouring snow having the most unhealthy breakfast ever (which might involve cake) I am living vicariously through your Zumba classes and workouts. I took dance for 12 years so I should really give it a chance. Note to self: put down cake, get off butt. Zumba.

    Thanks Heather! 🙂

  9. February 3, 2010 10:47 am

    i tried step last year and it was SO not me. i dont think i need to try zumba to know i would hate it. but you make it sound fun!

  10. February 3, 2010 2:07 pm

    I keep hearing about this zumba craze… I am going to have to check out the gyms in my area and see if they offer it. I swear the gyms in my town are about a year behind on the trends. Boooo!

  11. Teeny permalink
    February 16, 2010 6:04 pm

    You don’t have to be coordinated, you just have to like to move. As one of my favorite teachers put it, “No one’s getting voted off the dance floor today.” It’s high energy and you won’t want the hour to be over. In fact, if there is no class following ours, we usually sneak in an extra few songs. 🙂

    Zumba is the best, most fun, least workout-like workout I have ever done (and I easily burn at least 600 calories, usually more like 700. I stumbled across it two years ago and never looked back. I just signed up to take an instructors’ training workshop in April, so look out world!

  12. Robin permalink
    September 30, 2010 5:24 pm

    Heather, your writing style is positive, honest, and funny!

    I loved hearing about your ZUMBA experience. I learned there were classes every day and night within a 10 mile radius of my home in San Diego, and so my journey began. I’m on week 3, and 11 classes later I can say I’ve never had more fun getting in shape than at any other time in my life.

    There are a lot of people getting their freak on in those classes, like the cut-throat front row clique with the jingle-jangle belly-dancing scarves wrapped around their hips (enhancing the booty shake chique), who give the look that says “do NOT get in the front row if you don’t know the moves”, which never stops me!

    Two out of 5 instructors get 5 stars and the others get 3 stars. The workout can vary based on the instructor, but it’s a blast nonetheless!



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