5 Things a Zumba Class Will Teach You

I’m not bragging or anything, but I am a Zumba queen.

I have been to several Zumba (latin dancing/exercising) classes in many gyms. I’ve heard Shakira remixes and Pitbull versions, but strangely, I have never heard the same song twice. I’ve danced alongside young women and with the moms of the young women I used to go to school with. And usually it’s the same.

Every class, I spend most of my time trying not to step on anyone else’s toes and going left when everyone else goes right. I fail a lot, and I don’t get every move just right. But when you make mistakes with jazz hands and enthusiasm, can you really call them mistakes??

Anyway, when I look around my Zumba class, I see a lot of women who want to be a better version of themselves. But I also see a lot of women who lack confidence. We turn off the light so that everyone feels comfortable dancing. But that’s the problem. We are enabling our own lack of self-confidence. Maybe we need to remember that we should be feeling ourselves dancing, feeling the movement, instead of seeing and criticizing it. As a result, I felt that (Zumba) women everywhere needed a few reminders about their beauty and power.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

Listen, you’re not going to nail every move. Actually, I don’t know how the instructor (usually tiny and gorgeous) doesn’t stop from tittering behind her hand when she sees everyone screwing up time and time again. But I think it’s because she understands that that isn’t the point of Zumba. Being a dancing queen helps, but Zumba is for people who have just enough rhythm to not run into each other on a 5-minute basis. Just focus on getting a good workout by lifting your arms and legs higher. The rest will come in time. (Or in time 5, 6, 7 8…)

4. Let It Go

One of the biggest mysteries to me in life is why companies can’t make a remote for the TV with less buttons. But the second biggest mystery is why gyms put mirrors in exercise rooms. Do I need to see my sweaty mug staring back at me, as I unattractively complete squats? The answer is no. And on that note, try to avoid them if you can. All humans have this weird vanity reflex in which when they see a mirror, they are suddenly conscious of every hair out of place and move they make from that point forward. Concentrating that hard will cause you to inevitably mess up and stop enjoying your workout for what it is: time to be yourself. If you do mess up, see #5. If you want to learn more about being yourself, see #3.

3. Being Yourself

Everyone, everywhere, does everything a little bit differently than the next person. (Am I making sense? Good. Because it is about to get harder.) This means that everyone will lift their foot a little higher, shake their booty a little bit more, or whip their hair back and forth a bit…back and forthier than you. The point is that you need to be you no matter what the person next to you is doing. Unless they think they are God’s gift to Zumba and are whipping their hair like Beyonce. Then you can laugh a little. But after you are done laughing, you should congratulate them. Anyone who has the courage to be themselves in public is absolutely worthy of your admiration. 

2. Be Comfortable With Your Body

If you saw me out in public, you would be hard-pressed to look at me and say to yourself, “Yes, she drops it low on occasion.” And you’d be right about that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t in my Zumba class. I’m just loath to do it on the street, sir stranger. So, don’t let who you think you should be define you. (Huh?) Get in touch with yourself and shake ‘dem hips. (Oh.) Or don’t. It’s completely up to you. But being in charge of your body is what Zumba is all about.

1. Make It Fun

Look, it’s been a hard day. I know a lot of you out there aren’t skipping to your Zumba class at dinnertime. You are dragging your feet and your gym bag, hoping that you trip over the latter and injure yourself so you don’t have to go. But try to have some fun while  you’re there. I see plenty of women, brows furrowed in concentration trying to match each step. But you’ve been concentrating all day. Just laugh at yourself if you miss a step and keep going. If you have to think of it this way, this is your place to be silly. I promise, there will be plenty of time to put on a serious expression for the kids when you drive home.

I hope I’ve reminded all of the wonderful (Zumba) people why they are so great in the first place. No one rocks parachute pants with little straps on them like you do, and don’t you forget it. 


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