Joining the craze?

By Caroline Klapper | Aug 20, 2012
Photo by: File photo You didn't think I'd post a photo of me exercising, did you? This woman looks way too happy.

I guess it’s time to talk about Zumba.

I know, I know, how could I wait so long to address such a hot-button issue? Well, all your burning questions about this “dance fitness party” are about to be answered.

For those who don’t know, Zumba is basically one of the latest exercise crazes to hit the gym scene. To quote the Zumba website, it “combines Latin and international music with a fun and effective workout system."

Of course, “fun” is a relative term.

I’ve been going to Zumba classes pretty regularly for the past six months or so, and for the most part, I do like it.

It’s definitely a good cardio workout, and I always leave the hour-long class adequately sweaty — enough to feel like I’ve done something to benefit my health and not feel guilty about spending the rest of the evening on the couch.

But the first time I tried Zumba, I hated it. I didn’t go back for months, and I didn’t think I ever would. I took one look at the gyrating hips of the instructor and the rapid-fire steps of the dances, and I knew I couldn’t keep up. I ended up doing my own special dance mix made up of awkwardness and reject 80s moves dredged up from the depths of my murky dancing past.

I swore off Zumba for life, but a friend convinced me to try it again. Since I was (and still am) in the midst of slowly (very slowly) trying to get into better shape and live a healthier lifestyle, I agreed, and I’m glad I did.

This time the instructor was a little tamer and better about leading the class through the steps, which I appreciated. While still keeping up a fast pace and including plenty of hip swiveling, it was a little easier for a rookie like me to follow.

Although there was still lots of awkwardness, and I felt foolish a number of times as I tried to come even close to emulating what the rest of the class was doing, I also realized something.

I noticed that no one else was watching me. Everyone was concentrated on his or her own attempt to keep up with the instructor and there is little time to observe anyone else. So I stopped worrying about what a dork I looked like and tried to learn the steps and get in a good workout, which was what I was there for in the first place.

Now six months later, I won’t say I love Zumba, and I haven’t officially joined the craze. In my mind, it’s still exercise, and I still have to make myself go to classes. I still have some trouble keeping up from time to time, and I know I still look like a dork because a dancer I am not.

However, I usually end Zumba classes feeling pretty good — physically and mentally, and that’s mostly what matters to me. Plus, it’s certainly more fun and engaging than running on a treadmill for an hour, which I can’t do anyway.

If you’ve thought you might enjoy Zumba but felt too intimidated to try it, I say go for it. And remember to dance like nobody is watching because mostly likely, nobody is.

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