No, this isn’t my first Zumba® rodeo. Back in 2002, I attempted to samba and salsa some post-delivery baby weight away with the help of pirated Zumba® VHS tapes. (At the time, I couldn’t afford to buy the entire program. Babies are expensive. Just one baby is expensive. We also obviously did not have a DVD player at the time. DVD players were expensive too. Or maybe they weren’t. Perhaps Nate and I were just a couple of hopeless old-fashioned romantics.)
In these videotapes, the creator of Zumba®, Beto Perez, with the help of two female assistants/models, introduced the energizing rhythms of cumbia, salsa, merengue, and reggaeton to my English/Italian/Irish/German feet. Those English/Italian/Irish/German feet didn’t “get it” at first, but they had fun trying and eventually, I stumbled my way through an entire routine. After just a few weeks, I was awesome. Really awesome. At least, that’s my version of what happened. Nate may have witnessed something different. Alex was just a baby then, but maybe some early Zumba® memories have stayed with him all these years. Perhaps he’s never recovered.
In any case, I’ve continued to exercise over the years—running, stationary biking, and elliptical machining 5-6 days a week without fail. Why, then, would I jeopardize a perfectly good cardio program and try to add Zumba® ? Because I have this wild desire to become a certified Zumba® instructor someday as part of a master plan to cobble together as many side-hustle jobs as I can in order to break a Guinness World Record of the most side-hustle jobs juggled in one year. I just know I can do it. Well, I can picture it in my mind, which is half the battle, according to all of the self-help books and “Successories” I’ve gathered over the years. (By the way, when I Google “Guinness Book of World Records for most side-hustle jobs,” I get pages of “career opportunities” at the Guinness Book of World Records. Hmm. Sounds like another side-hustle gig. Count me in!)
Inside the L.A. Fitness “glass cage” for group exercises, I know where I belong: Far in the back so I can bump into the wall, instead of another student. Luckily, the people in the class seem nice and they all smile at me and greet me, but I know what they’re thinking. Each one is thinking: “Look at that new girl. I bet I could kick her ass at Zumba®” Each one is probably right, but I don’t care. I’m going to go all out. Flo Rida’s “Club Can’t Handle Me” song is playing in my head and I’m about to sing, “I’m rockin’, I’m rolling, I’m holding, I know it.”
However, I can’t get too excited. Though I’ve continued to run and exercise all of these years, dancing is a whole different enchilada. So, while I do want to go “all out,” I need to pace myself. Pace yourself, Cecilia. Pace yourself, I say, over and over in my head, but Flo Rida is still in my head and he’s egging me on.
Then, the instructor comes in. She’s a ball of fire and I quickly realize I’m such an idiot for thinking I could ever get Zumba® certified. Okay, relax, Cecilia, I tell myself. Don’t let it throw you. Maybe you could still be an instructor after a year or so of classes.
The instructor whoops and claps and everyone cheers and then, it’s on. Really on. And we’re going—and I’m keeping up! And I’m smiling! And I’m thinking, Damn, Cecilia. You go. You do this! I start to work up a sweat and I’m keeping up and I’m doing it—I’m really doing it! The first song is over—and it’s a long song—and I did it. We’re about to start the next one and I realize, we’re only five minutes in. Pace yourself. You’re going at it too hard. Pace it!
But do I listen? No! I keep going. My feet and calves are burning like hot, hot coals, but I don’t care. I’m going to keep jumping and kicking and Zumba-ing—with wild, wild gestures—I’m probably overdoing it. I catch a few people in the class looking at me with an expression that says, “Calm the F down. Geez!”
Mid-way through, we start the hip-hop/reggaeton sequences and I’m completely lost. I kind of just stumble my way through those parts and rebound during the belly dancing. There’s a water break or two, but I forgot water. You’re like a camel in the desert, Cecilia. You don’t need water. Keep going. You’re awesome, I tell myself because I really, really want water. (Bring water if you take a Zumba® class.)
An hour later, my feet hurt and I’m trying to remember if eating sand was part of the routine because I’m dizzy and my mouth is dry. As I limp across the threshold when I get home, I decide that it might be a while before I become a Zumba® instructor.
“How was it?” Nate asks.
“I need a beer and a foot rub. Mostly a foot rub.”
Your Turn: What are your experiences with group fitness classes, if you’ve taken them?