Training: The Zumba Edition

Not me. Not by a long shot. But wow, check out her abs! *

I’m going to start this post with a seemingly unrelated story. Stick with me; it’ll make sense eventually (I hope).

Years ago, I had a friend who had lived as an exchange student in France. He loved his host family, but they teased him mercilessly about his accent, one that clearly identified him as a native English speaker. Try as he might, he just couldn’t shake the accent, even after months spent immersed in the language and culture.

Then one night, after a little too much wine, he started speaking French in the most over-the-top French accent that he could muster. “It was like a Monty Python skit. Imagine John Cleese pretending to speak French.” Suddenly, it was like he cracked the code: people commended his “unaccented” command of the French language. He was dumbfounded, but came to realize that it wasn’t the Cleeseiness of his delivery as much as it was his unabashed willingness to make a fool of himself that relaxed him enough to nail the pronunciations.

I feel this way about Zumba.

One of my friends, Diana, has started teaching Zumba; I’ve wanted to go to one of her classes for a while, but my running schedule didn’t match with her classes. Until now, that is.

If you’re not familiar, Zumba is a high energy, dance-based cardio class that uses Latin moves and music. And if there’s anything that you need to know about me, it’s that I am not natively inclined to move like I’m on the Latin Grammy’s. Aside from a basic understanding of Salsa dance, thanks to my friend, Ria, I went into this thing with no skill whatsoever and plenty of anxiety about looking like a fool. So why would I do this at all? Because Diana looks amazing. Running and kickboxing have not done for my body what Zumba has done for hers. This is some serious stuff.

I bumbled my way through class, simultaneously trying to follow the choreography and loosen my hips so that I moved just a little less robotically. As I explained to a friend, my brain can hear the beat, but my body is tone deaf. It just doesn’t do those little shimmies and wiggles that I want it to do.

This is when I remembered the French analogy. It occurs to me that if I throw myself into this with reckless abandon and pretend to be able to shake my hips like Shakira… well, maybe eventually I’ll actually start to move like her.

Then again, maybe the key to the story was the many glasses of wine.

And before I go, I want to extend a huge congratulations to my online running buddy from the other coast, Jason. He not only ran his first marathon today, but he beat his projected already-fast time by a full 7 minutes. I am in awe!

* Photo courtesy of via Creative Commons.

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2 Responses

  1. I walk past a zumba class on my way out of yoga every week. And every week, I am so, so glad that I’m not in it. Not only could I not in a million years keep up with it or exhibit any semblance of rhythm, they all just look so enthusiastic. People are whooping and everything. I think I’d try spinning first. At least people in spinning look kind of mad. I could pull that off way more easily than enthusiasm.

  2. Alisa says:

    There are three things drawing me to Zumba: 1) the instructor is a friend, 2) wow, she looks fabulous from doing Zumba, and 3) really good music. The drawbacks are a) my coordination, b) my coordination, and c) my coordination.

    Spin class scares me a little. Those people are hardcore.

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