I may have mentioned once or twice (or a gazillion times) how much I love my gym’s Zumba classes. I finally asked the instructor this week, if they are typical of Zumba classes elsewhere as, having never tried one, I wouldn’t quite know what to expect. “They can vary a lot,” she said…. which makes me wonder if I really like Zumba, or whether I just like my gym’s Zumba. As I’ve said before, prior to commencing classes at my gym, I’d had this perception of endless sambas (a bit like Latin Dancing) and thought that would be as boring as batshit as surely there are only so many ‘shimies’ one can do. But – the class I go to is just fabulous: jam-packed with recognisable songs and a mixture of steps and styles. A veritable ‘fusion’ of dance.
The tiny gym classroom can only fit 12 of us and, as one of the more popular classes, Zumba is usually pretty full. And, cantankerous as I am, I’m usually shirty at those who come in late and invade my personal space after I’ve made a little pocket of room for myself. But… I usually try to find my way to the back of the very-small room – not because I know I’ll be befuddled with the steps (as I’m usually not), and not because I feel self-conscious in front of others (though that’s a tiny part of it); more than anything it’s so I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror. It’s far easier to keep my eyes fixed on the instructor if there are a few bodies between myself the mirrored wall at the front of the room.
On Monday I made my way to the back of the room and our instructor laughed as she saw me skirt towards the back. “I’ll still be watching you Schmiet,” she said (well, not really cos she used my real name), “my eyes are always drawn to you… because you move well.” WTF! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR (etc etc)?!
My surprise must have been obvious and she was probably conscious of the others in the room, so she said, “I probably shouldn’t say that, but you do move really well, so I do tend to watch you, and I hope that doesn’t make you self-conscious.” I laughed it off and commented on my wobbly bits but must confess, rather than making me self-conscious, I felt just a little bit lighter and brighter (kinda ‘chuffed’) throughout the class.
As I was leaving the gym, we had the discussion about other Zumba classes. “You should try some,” she said. “You’re a good dancer and you move really well.”
Now… I’m not prone to blowing my own trumpet (or is it horn?!) so I feel a bit self-congratulatory sharing this commentary from my (now much-beloved!) instructor… BUT it’s such a change to be judged in an non-judgemental way. If that makes sense (which obviously it doesn’t).
Some time ago I mentioned having attended regular boxing sessions at a gym several years ago. In that post I said that – even though I was one of the more coordinated there – because I was ‘judged’ to be less-fit and less-able because of my size, the instructor CONSTANTLY put me with newcomers who didn’t know a ‘jab’ from an ‘uppercut’. At the time I was a lot fitter than I looked (although not as fit as most there), but his reaction to me (and lack of openness to see me in any other way) disappointed me and had an impact on how I felt about myself.
My Zumba instructor, on the other hand, is an empowering woman. She’s constantly telling her class of women that ‘we’re sexy and we know it’ (in the words of one of our tracks by LMFAO). Over half of the class are in their 40s, yet we love us a bit of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and – of course – LMFAO. We move like Jagger AND we go crazy when some Salt ‘n Pepa (circa 1980s) reverberates from the speakers.
Despite the instructor’s very-lovely compliments… I know I’m not a ‘good dancer’. In a relative sense (in the class I am in) I’m okay. But I’m coordinated and I love to get my groove on (yes, I’m showing my age cos I’m sure there’s a ‘cooler’ way of saying that!). Dancing is one of my favourite forms of exercise, though I suspect if I went to it too often I’d get a bit bored.
As it is, I love the music and I find it freeing. I’m a bit too old to go out clubbing nowadays, so don’t get much of an opportunity to dance – but I’m more than happy to receive a gold star or elephant stamp or the like* from our instructor for my Monday lunchtime efforts.* I’m not sure how much cross-cultural relevance the title has…