Monday, January 11, 2010

In Which I Succumb To The Latest Craze

Tonight at the YMCA, I tried Zumba.

This was not a good idea.

Now, first of all you have to understand something about me. I was not a cheerleader or on pep squad in high school. I don't go clubbing. The entire extent of my dancing resume consists of those awkward junior high and high school dances, formal dances where one wears a very long dress and allows the guy to do all the leading, and the obligatory dances one learns when one lives a large portion of one's life in Texas, such as two-stepping, the Cotton Eyed Joe, and the Chicken Dance. In addition to my minimal amount of experience and my shocking dearth of natural talent, I have really big feet which I am forever tripping over. As result I dance with all the grace and beauty of a water buffalo suffering from gout.

Well, that's not entirely true, I suppose. I have taken one dance class before, just a couple of months after Connor was born. I was still trying to get used to the fact that my formally svelte and athletic body, due to the extreme amounts of extra amniotic fluid that Connor's kidney issues in utero created, was now covered in stretch marks and was considerably, and probably permanently, saggier in places that one does not expect a 23 year old to sag in. So I was looking for a way to get a little more comfortable with what I had to work with, so to speak, and signed up for the class on a whim. It was entitled, I kid you not, The Art Of Exotic Dance. And when it said Exotic Dance, it was not referring to dancing from foreign climes.

Despite leading to one of the most awkward conversations I've ever had with my father ("Exotic dance? Is that like salsa or something? No? Oh. Oh.") the class turned out to be a ton of fun and just what I needed to get my self esteem back on track. I walked into the class, which was for women only, and discovered to my delight that I was the youngest and thinnest person in the room, even counting the instructor. This is something that will cheer a recently pregnant woman up considerably. Also, due to the fact that a good number of the women in the class were there for a fortieth birthday celebration and had steeled themselves for the rigours to come by consuming a large number of jello shots, I was also one of the most coordinated, which is saying something. The class ended up being pretty fun, too, though the instructor did become a little exasperated with the drunk forty-somethings, who kept attempting to stick their feather boas up each other's noses and sneaking off to the restroom to imbibe more liquid courage.

So I guess I don't really dance like a water buffalo with gout. I dance like a water buffalo with gout who has taking a class on the art of the striptease. I'm not sure that this is an improvement.

But back to Zumba. Zumba, for those of you who don't know, is the latest aerobic dance craze. According to the official Zumba website, it "fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms and easy-to-follow moves to create a one-of-a-kind fitness program that will blow you away." I was not there to be blown away. I was there because it was the only cardio class going on at the gym this evening and I didn't really feel like riding the stationary bike or running around the track. I figured I could just stand in the back and sort of fudge it.

I knew I was in trouble the moment I walked in. For starters, I apparently wasn't dressed properly. While there were a few non-conformers like me, the correct uniform seemed to be spandex tank tops, tiny bike shorts, and heavy waterproof mascara. I was also supposed to be about nineteen years old and a size two. The second problem was that the room was a fairly modest size, and there were around sixty women crammed into it. This meant that not only was there was no way I could hide in the back, but since we were standing almost shoulder-to-shoulder there was a distinct possibility I might seriously injure one of my fellow Zumba dancers (Zumbers?) with an out-of-control flailing limb if I kicked right when I was supposed to be kicking left. I arrived ten minutes before it started and the place was packed. By the time the class began they were actually having to turn people away at the door.

I somehow ended up in a position almost guaranteed to produce maximum amounts of humiliation. In front and on either side of me were tiny, spandex clad, mascara-wearing girls who had obviously been spending some considerable time on the dance floor and already knew all of the moves. Directly behind me was one of the two men in the class-- both in their late sixties or early seventies-- who would have a full and unobstructed view of my athletic pant-encased rear in all its glory. About ten feet away was a large window, where a number of teenage boys had lined up and stopped to observe the proceedings and flex their biceps in a kind of frenzied mating dance of their own. I briefly thought about elbowing my way to a better position, but it was too late.

Despite my growing apprehensions as the doors clicked ominously shut, I decided to stick it out. And so the lights went down, they pumped the volume on the stereo up, and class began. And you know what? It was pretty fun. Perhaps it was the peppy music and the cheesy multicolored lights. Maybe it was the incredibly enthusiastic instructor, who was kind of an interesting combination between a drill sergeant and a cheerleader. Maybe I just got dehydrated and kind of delirious. At any rate, it grew on me.

Okay, so there was a whole lot of flailing and lurching around and being out of step on my part, and I had a narrow miss where I nearly brained the girl to the left of me after I tripped over my own shoelace during an attempt at a pivoting turn, but it ended up being a really good workout and once I stopped feeling so self-conscious I even managed to sort of catch on to the routines just before they ended and the instructor went on to something entirely new and different. Also the old guy behind me left half-way through the class, which was nice. He was really good, which didn't help me feel any better about my total and complete lack of coordination.

There's another Zumba class tomorrow morning. I just might go, provided I get there early, stake out a corner, bring a lot of water (60 women dancing in a small room makes it hot in there) and stand somewhere on the other side away from the gawking teenage boys. Who knows? If I went often enough I might even pick up some modest dance skills.

But I'm still not wearing spandex.



Terena said...

sounds awesome! keep it up.

Team Carter Jay said...

LOL! It does sound like fun. You're much braver than I am!

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

You are a brave woman! Not sure I would have stuck it out. Sounds like you had a good time after all. : )

xraevision said...

Oh, Jess, this is one of your funniest stories yet!!! Maybe someday soon I will muster up the courage to attend a class requiring coordination too!

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Knowledge Safari said...

Nice post! I tried Zumba too - I thought the music was so loud it was driving me as batty as "Annie Ooo"! My sister just said I was showing my age!:)

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