If you haven’t heard of Zumba, I’m sure you’re not alone. It’s an exercise class that uses salsa, merengue, and mambo dance moves.
My sister has talked about it before, and until she brought it up yesterday, I had never considered taking the class. Why would I? I haven’t exercised in, oh, say. . .8 years! If you count exercise as going up and down stairs 300 times a day to fetch bottles, blankets, diapers, laundry, screaming children, well, then I should be a personal trainer. But if you don’t count that as exercise then I don’t exercise.
So I took my sister up on the offer to use a free pass at the L.A. Sports/Club and go to a Zumba class with her. Could I have picked a more intimidating place to reenter the world of exercise?! No. In Los Angeles, it is the place you go to exercise. But it’s not just a gym. It’s a city. There’s a fine dining restaurant, a cafe, juice bar, apparel store, pilates studio, spa, indoor pool, childcare, and that doesn’t even get you into what’s in the locker room!
I picked my sister up and we head to the gym. She immediately asks where my water is. Water? Don’t they have water there? And I’m told that you need water during the class. Oy vey. . . what have I done. Then she proceeds to ask if I’m wearing a sports bra. Check! Then she looks at my shoes. Check again! I’m feeling pretty confident as we pull into a meter behind the gym. All confidence begins to wane as I enter the holy of all holy gyms. I quickly realize this isn’t a gym, but rather it’s a mecca. Los Angeles is full of beautiful people, and they ALL were in this place at the same time. She decides to tour me around. We walk for like a mile and I am feeling a little out of breath. This begins to scare me. I should’ve waited on the scared part because then we enter this humongous room of mirrors. It is filled with machines that look more like torture equipment than exercise machines. And I didn’t really understand why these people were there. They all looked fantastic, why do they need to work out?
So we move to the upper level. I asked why all these machines have their own TVs but the machines down below don’t. After an eyeroll from my sister she explains those are not cardio, they were weight machines. Only the cardio machines have the TVs. Oh.
Then there is this desk filled with buff people just standing there. Ah, the personal trainers. I keep moving. I am getting a little nervous at this point because every wall has either clear glass or mirrors. And to my no longer shock, we stumble upon the ZUMBA room. Yep, you guessed it. 3 glass walls, and a wall of mirrors.
I have my water, my sister handed me a towel. I asked her what the towel is for and she said to wipe my sweat. Um, I don’t sweat. She told me I will. Gulp.
She tells me to stretch. I kind of put my leg out and put my head down til I feel pain. I figure I’m doing it right since that’s what all the other women are doing. I stake out a prime location, or so I thought. It’s in the far right back corner, perfect. No one behind me. Just two people in front, diagonal from the instructor and mirrors to my right.
I look at the clock and it says 5:30. How long was this class? One hour. I can handle an hour.
The music begins and I have to concentrate on what he’s doing for about 5 seconds before I can get my body to do what he is doing. I say he because that’s what he was. A he. A he who can do things with his hips that I never thought were possible for either gender.
I imagined it would start slow paced and slowly build and then descend. I was wrong. It started out hard. Like I want to throw up kind of hard. And aha! It was not salsa and merengue. Sure, the music was salsa and merengue. But I don’t think it’s fair to call it a salsa/merengue/dance class just because the music you play is salsa/merengue/dance. If I can explain it in simple terms. . .imagine plugging your ipod in and as soon as you hit play you have to take off running sprinting and you cannot stop. Well you can stop but only to jump and bend down and twist and pump. And you do this for an hour straight. But because your ipod was playing salsa music, you call it salsa dancing.
The first, I don’t know what you call it, stanza? unit? song? stops and we can drink water for like 3 seconds and I look at the clock thinking phew, I’m almost there, and it’s 5:40. Almost immediately the next part starts, and so it goes again and again.
The whole time I am thinking to myself, hey, at least I’m actually doing it. I am not stopping, or leaving, or throwing something at the instructor. And just then he walks exercises over to me and points his finger and tells me to pump it up. I smile. He doesn’t leave. I look like a deer caught in headlights and look to my sister to save me. She mouths to me as she is jumping and kicking to tell him it’s my first time. I yell over the blaring music “it’s my first time”. He says “okay, then” and leaves. Phew!
Then comes this hip rolling/rope twirling move that makes me look like a rodeo player and you turn in a circle the whole time. I’m turning, I’m twirling ropes, I’m gyrating my pelvis, I’m turning turning turning and I notice as I am facing what I thought was a wall, it is not a wall. It is a clear glass wall facing into the room we just came from. Filled with men/women curling their biceps. . .and no TVs to watch. So they instead are watching my rear. What fun.
I am now looking around the room thinking, well I could be a lot better but I’m not the worst. That’s good right? In fact, there were 2 women in their 70s in the class. I think they were going to their own music in their heads and following an imaginary instructor. But hey, they were there. Then I pan to the left side and up in front is a woman who clearly should have more clothes on. She has a sports bra on and exercise pants and she has this belly kind of jiggling and moving all over. But that’s not the bad part, the bad part is she thinks she is the stuff.
Belly dancing music comes on and she is all over that. Let me tell you. She’s got the shimmy thing going on and the belly moving all over. And I just tell myself, see, you could be her. Well, I couldn’t really because she obviously is middle eastern, and obviously knows how to belly dance, but I guess I could think I’m the stuff.
Thank goodness I don’t.
Class finishes and I have to tuck the towel down in my sports bra because, yep, I am sweating. But all I can say is I made it through the whole class. I survived. I don’t know if I will be able to drive tomorrow or lift my daughter or go pee. But I made it.
So that is my experience with Zumba. I think I will take a break from exercising now, maybe for. . .another 8 years.