A couple of years ago I attended my very first Zumba class. I wish I could tell you it was love at first cha-cha but it was a complete disaster! It was obvious from the first song that the instructors were more concerned about putting on a show than they were about leading a class. To make things worse, the dance studio where the class was held was entirely too small for the amount of people crammed into it and there was hardly enough space to move freely. I felt like I spent half the class standing still, either staring at the instructor's feet and trying to figure out what was going on or immobile for fear I would crash into the person twelve inches to my left. It ended up being a very frustrating hour and I left vowing never to return again.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago: I found out about a Zumba class that is offered twice weekly at the local community center. It sounded like the perfect way to get in some cardio on my no-run days so I bought myself a pair of cross trainers with a pivot circle for easy turning. Those sneakers have been sitting in my closet for two months. Every time I thought about heading over to the community center to check out their Zumba class, I was reminded of that previous encounter and would anxiously push the thought out of my mind.
The other night I was watching the Biggest Loser and lo and behold, one of their workouts was a great big Zumba party. It looked like so much fun! There were people of all shapes and sizes dancing their asses off and every single one of them had a smile on their face. I can do that, I told myself. I mentioned it to a friend, who shall remain nameless for fear her head will get too big and explode (yeah, you!). Basically she said (and I'm paraphrasing here), Stop whining and do it. You will look stupid. Who cares? Suck it up and get your Zumba on.
...Fine, I'll do it. So last night I laced up my fancy two-month old shoes and nervously headed off to class. When I arrived there was another girl waiting outside the classroom so I struck up a conversation and found out that she had only tried Zumba once before - just like me! I took this as a good sign. Once the rest of the class arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief. There were only eight of us, with tons of room to spread out! It was obvious to the instructor that she had a couple of new folks in the class and I must say once we started, her cues were awesome!
As soon as the music began, I went hardcore. I have no idea what sort of crazy was happening with my body, my limbs were most likely flailing in all directions; but in my mind I was one of Sir Mix-A-Lot's booty chicks and I was gonna shake what my momma gave me. I think I was the second most energetic person in that room other than the instructor and she praised me for sweating. Let me repeat that: she praised... my sweat. I'm pretty sure "sweat" is Zumba code for "amazing dance skills", she just didn't want to hurt my classmate's feelings.
Moving on, we did the tootsie roll, we jersey-turnpiked, we danced to a song that I recognized from this video which I find both disturbing and hilarious. At one point the instructor's ta-tas nearly fell out of her shirt and she made us re-start the song as if it was our fault that her puppies were jumping ship. I felt myself drowning in the hot beats, my own sweat, and the "go white girl, go white girl, GO!" chant happening somewhere in the cockles of my heart. The hour was over before I knew it and it was a damn good time.
I am really pleased that I decided to give Zumba another chance. I have heard some people trash-talk it but let me just say, I burned 700 calories in one hour and did not for a minute feel like I was doing a dreaded workout - so worth it. I'm pretty much hooked now and will probably buy a 12-class package next week. My only concern is my stupid plantar fasciitis foot, which pretty much crippled me this morning. I'm not sure if it was the jumping, the new shoes, or the lack of stretching that was the problem. Next week I'm going to try the shoes with my Spenco insoles and make sure to stretch my calves extra good. If that works, I will become a Zumba goddess.
Have you ever tried Zumba? Was your experience more like my first, failed attempt or the second - sweet success?