Sunday, February 10, 2013

Death by Zumba

Like many Americans, I have spent much of my life tethered to a desk to make a living. The problem with this is that, unlike people who work in construction or in other physically active jobs, you don't get much exercise. After a while, you get used to that and exercise becomes a real effort rather than fun.
Just looking at this illustration makes me tired.

I didn't used to be that way. When I was younger, I enjoyed volleyball, baseball, lacrosse and soccer. Then I got married and had children, worked long hours and helped my offspring with their homework with my remaining waking time. Now my daughters are grown, so I thought I would use their homework time to go to an exercise class. A friend of mine, who is 69, suggested I join her for some Zumba classes at the local YMCA. I had no idea what Zumba was, but it was exercise, so it fit the bill.

I arrived at class with my brand new sweat pants and stylish long-sleeve, moisture-wicking exercise shirt. A woman about my age from South America was the teacher that night. She was lively and cheerful. My friend warned me that I should stand up front near the teacher so I could see and follow what she was doing. So, fighting my urge to lurk in the back row, I took her advice. The class was made up of women ranging in age from their twenties to one woman who looked to be in her eighties. I fell somewhere in the middle.

The teacher started the music. It was loud, fast and contained vocals in which men were crooning suggestive phrases about our body parts in English and Spanish. Our instructor began to dance/exercise in time with it and the class, including me, followed a beat behind as best we could. I swear that this incredibly lithe exercise guru had body parts moving that I have not yet discovered. I confided to another student that I felt like a "tight-assed honkie." Indeed, I was.

Within minutes, I realized that the long-sleeved exercise shirt I was wearingwhile trendy and moisture-wickingwas way too hot for this class. I was drenched and feeling overheated within minutes. Still, determined, I continued clumsily trying to copy the rhythmic footwork, kicking, twirling, gyrating motions led by our rubbery teacher.

Picture 60 to 90 minutes of the above with a middle-aged woman.
I only lasted for half the class then sat down on the floor to the side to watch everyone else until their self-imposed torture ended. I was exhausted, drenched and unabashedly panting. I'm a writer, dammit, not a Rockette. My 69-year-old friend, while somewhat damp, seemed to have weathered the experience much better than I. Oh, the humiliation. I comforted myself in the fact that she made her living in a more physical trade, massage therapy, so had not suffered the atrophy that we desk-jockeys endure.

The next day, I was totaled. But as I dragged around the house groaning like a reenactment of a zombie movie, I comforted myself in the knowledge that maybe someday, perhaps before I'm 69, I will be able to last for the entire class without the urge to lie down on the floor and expire. For then, I will know that I have conquered Zumba rather than the other way around.


  1. Hi .......can you share...what was your expectation from this class ? Are you still continuing ?