Monday, November 25, 2019

Zumba... for the Gracefully Challenged!

Dance class for women Free Photo

When I first made the decision several months ago to get more serious about my fitness and start attending exercise classes, I went over our Y exercise schedule thoroughly. We have a LOT of options available, but I settled on starting with Step and Cycle. Some of the others seemed like they might just be too difficult for my level at the moment (not that those were easy options either) and then there was Zumba. Zumba is a HUGELY popular workout with multiple options at various times throughout the day, and offered nearly every day. Still, as popular as it was... I knew it wasn't for me.

Here's the honest truth: I cannot dance!

Seriously, ladies. I can't. And I don't. Especially not in front of people. I'm not saying that I have two left feet, but well... if the left shoes fit. I'm just not a super coordinated person and by nature tend to be very rigid and stiff. The idea of ME attending a Zumba class? Well, it was a little laughable.

Still, upon joining the Step class that I'd been so excited about, I was invited to try one out. Much of the same group of ladies that attend that class also do the Zumba as well. They were such an open and accepting group of ladies that I decided to accept the invitation, figuring I'd go once, see that it's not for me and that would be the end of that.

Fast forward to now... when I attend Zumba regularly, 4 times a week! So today, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience in hopes that it can offer encouragement to those who like me felt like their dancing ability wasn't good enough.

But first, what is Zumba?

Zumba is a fitness class that combines dance and fitness moves. Inspired by Latin dance and music, Zumba uses a variety of styles in its routines, including Cumbia, Merengue, Salsa, Reggaeton, Mambo, Rumba, Flamenco, and a Hip Hop. Music selections include both fast and slow rhythms to help tone and sculpt the body.-

Zumba has been around since the 90s and is a very popular option that appeals to people of all ages and fitness levels.

Why is it so popular?

Whether they are good at it or not, many people love to dance! Given the choice between going to life weights or dancing... what would you choose? For many, Zumba is an exercise class that doesn't feel much like exercising. That doesn't mean you won't get a workout though! You're constantly in motion and moving all parts of your body.

As I mentioned, it's good for all ages and fitness levels which I believe makes it a popular choice too. Just looking at the class I attend alone, we have fitness levels from newbies to experts and ages from myself at 32 all the way up to 70s+. It is encouraged to do what you can and make it your own. If you want to/can jump, jump. If you want to use weights, use weights. If you want to take it slower, take it slower. Don't like the moves? Make up your own, just keep moving. Ultimately that is the most important thing. For me, that made a huge difference.

But what if I can't dance?

Honestly, it really doesn't matter! If you find a good group, no one cares! I am lucky enough to have found that, and for that I am thankful. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually not too difficult for my uncoordinated self to pick up. Don't get me wrong, the first several weeks were a mess... but once I kind of figured out a lot of the basic moves I found that they are repeated a lot throughout the different dances. That certainly makes it easier. They are all also pretty easy to adjust up or down to better fit your fitness needs and skills. Can't remember choreography? It's not a problem, just try to follow along with the instructor as best as you can. As I said, there's a lot of repetition, so if you get lost it's not generally too difficult to catch up. One thing that I've noticed about my own abilities is that my feet and the salsa type steps in some of the dances... well, they just don't mix. So rather than stress over it, I just keep them moving anyway. Am I graceful? No. Am I doing every move correctly? No. Does it look good? Probably not. But is it an effective workout despite it? Absolutely... and one that I find that I actually enjoy!

If you've been hesitant about trying Zumba because of your lack of dance skills, know you're not alone! It's certainly an intimidating idea, and when I think about it, I am so shocked that I even gave it a try- let alone fell in love with it! I hope this post has offered a little encouragement to take that step and just try!

Do you Zumba? What has your experience been like? What do you love about it? What words of encouragement would you give to the gracefully challenged?

Photo credit: People photo created by nikitabuida -


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