Have you ever met an unhappy Zumba lover? I don’t think so. People either love it or hate it.
After months of putting it off, I finally decided to try Zumba. I have tried Zumba in the past and hated it. Why? Because I am not a natural dancer. I always feel like the odd person out. It was an hour of me trying to get the steps right very conscious that I was doing it wrong.
This time was no different. Initially.
Why would I do this? To be honest, I wanted to understand why people love it so much. Yes, people LOVE ZUMBA. A few months back Beto Perez, creator of Zumba, came to Abu Dhabi for a Zumba Dance Party. So many women asked me if I was going. No. I like fitness and all but I don’t do Zumba. What an eclectic group of individuals that showed interest in this. Women from all different backgrounds and ages (young, older, Indian, Lebanese, Egyptian, European – just to name a few). If they were surprised I was not going, I was just as surprised that they were.
“What?! You do Zumba?”
“I LOVE ZUMBA!” was always the response I got.
Women love Zumba. So many women love Zumba. This past summer I attended a park festival back home (in a very small, rural village in upstate New York) and Zumba was part of the festivities. About five or six women danced in the park gazebo trying to get onlookers (like me) involved. Those women were happy, insanely fit and incredibly passionate about Zumba. Thinking of those happy women and the women over here in the UAE got me thinking. Perhaps I just should give it a go…again. Maybe it has changed a bit.
Nope. It hasn’t.
It is still an hour of pre-choreographed dance moves that everyone else seems to know already. From sexy hip swirling to booty shaking, you feel more like you are making a music video than doing an exercise class. It sucks when you are the only new person to the class. You stick out like the last kid that gets picked for kickball. I was able to get the jumps pretty good but not much else.
Did I have fun?
YES. I realize that whilst Zumba has not really changed since I tried it a few years back, perhaps I have changed. I was trying hard to follow along. Fumbling as I tried to get into step, never taking my eyes off of the instructor’s fast-moving feet, cursing to myself thinking, “Why did I agree to this again? I hate Zumba!” With mirrors in front of the room, I caught a glimpse of my awkward self in my peripheral vision out of step with everyone else. I had to laugh.
Then I looked up and the teacher was smiling, not at my mistakes but just because she was having a good time. I had a quick glance around at the other women – everyone had big smiles on their face as they wiggled their way through the steps. Even I had a smile on my face. Of course it was because I was laughing at my own inept ability to be in time with everyone else, but I felt happy.
It dawned on me. It is not about doing it right. It is about exercising, moving along to the music, getting your sweat on and having fun. Then came the old chest pump/booty shake combo (an old favorite that I save only for my family). I was thinking, “Oh wow, I do this all the time with the kids being silly, they’re doing it for real. Alright, let’s do this.”
I had to stop being so self-conscious and just keep moving.
From that point on, I still tried to get the steps right, but I let go of any fears of how I looked. Let’s face it. I was not there to impress anyone. I made the decision to be there. It actually took a lot of coordination for me to attend this class and if I didn’t enjoy, it would have been a waste of not only my time but everyone else’s time that contributed to me being there at that moment.
I may have looked silly but I had a blast. I enjoyed it. I am not a Zumba convert just yet. But I will say this, the music was great, the energy was high and the workout hard. Thank God for the breaks between each song. They were only a few seconds long but I needed it! The music will have you feel like you are up in the club. Up in the club at 9 am. Whilst most songs have a latin beat, there is a varied selection of hip hop and pop tracks that get played. When it is all finished, you leave with the positive vibes. I felt happy, everyone else looked happy. That is what it is about.
Will I go back? Definitely.
I spoke with the instructor afterwards. She said that it takes a few classes to get the steps but once you do it is even more fun because you can just move with the music. You will know exactly what to do when the songs are played. I totally get that.
I am going to give Zumba a chance. I am going to start with a 10 class pass to see how I get on. I am sure my cardio fitness will improve, if not that my dance moves should improve. Maybe I can do better than just the chest pump/booty shake.
Reasons to go back:
- Fun – Let’s see if I can get the steps and how much fun it can be
- Flexibility – I was pretty stiff in my movements for this first class. Hopefully doing weekly dance class will losen up muscles that get tight from doing cross fit.
- Cardio fitness – I burned 343 calories with one hour of zumba. They say you can burn up to 700 but I think that is once you know all of the moves and can really get into it.
I attended Ayesha’s Zumba class at Raha Beach Hotel. The great thing about Zumba is that it is for all ages, all shapes and sizes, and all skill levels. I highly recommend you give it a try if you are located in Abu Dhabi. For Ayesha’s current class schedule, please take a look at her Facebook page here.
Classes are available worldwide. Just Google Zumba to find your nearest Zumba class.