Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New futility

Have you heard about this Zumba thing? This Latin dance exercise-a-ma-jobber? Have you done it? I tried it today. And let me tell you, it just highlighted reasons I swam for so many years. Clearly coordinated movement on land is not high on my list of accomplishments.

So I agreed to try it out with a friend, pleased by the knowledge that with a class at 10:30, I could go back to bed after getting the kids to the bus at 6:55am. What I didn't take into account was that my lazy self would sleep until 10:20 and then have to fly pell-mell to the class. Luckily the instructor seemed to be functioning on casual time as well and the music just started as I walked in. Now while R. dances, I've never claimed to be the source of her rhythm. (Of course her father is even more definitely not the source either but that's an interesting phenomenon we won't get into here.) And this class quickly showed me that the two (maybe only one) rhythmic bones in my body are solely responsible for keeping me on my feet. They are not willing, nor able to keep my different body parts from flailing madly in different directions, making a mockery of the instructor's fantastic dancing. I couldn't have looked more hectic and uncoordinated if I had been trying to make fun of her. But it's definitely an interesting exercise concept.

The room is so crowded that it is easy to hide out in the back in the corner. But the room is so crowded that it is hard to find one person who seems to know what she's doing and just follow her because I sure as shooting couldn't see the instructor. Oh, and the twirling around stuff and changing directions we seemed to do constantly? Just made me lose sight of my good example. Not to mention that it made me dizzy and I spent a lot of time facing the wrong direction, with the entire class coming towards me as I stood rooted in place. When you haven't figured out what the heck direction you should be facing, you are clearly no longer hiding out in the back corner. Now you are the dipsy doodle crashing into people who have a clue. And everyone in the entire room can see how out of sync and confuzzled you are. Well, not the entire room. Good thing it was crowded enough that only 50 people could see me making an idiot of myself instead of all 100.

I was sweating like a pig when I was finished. Of course, getting me to sweat is like shooting fish in a barrel and given that I spent a good portion of the class looking completely confused by the elaborate steps we were supposed to be doing, I'm not sure how great my actual workout was. Yes, seriously. There I stood like a numb nuts, catching flies in my open mouth as I tried to process the complicated combinations and whatnot that the instructor never called out to us (not that having them called out would have improved my obviously rhythmless ineptitude, mind you). Everyone else seemed to instinctively know what we were doing and to be at least decent at it. Me? I was still stumbling into people, excusing myself, and hoping not to break any parts--mine or others'.

At one point the instructor commented that something was "muy caliente." This was the point that I realized I am more likely to learn Spanish faster than I am to learn Zumba. And although I know what muy caliente means thanks to W.'s school Spanish book's glossary, in this case I'm just sure what it really translates to is: "This is going to really stump that poor clodhopper in the back row who can't even manage to shimmy or jiggle in time to the music because this next bit is faster than Usain Bolt." And really, it was so far beyond my talents that it was ridiculous. Again though, everyone else seemed fine with it, including the 70 year old woman who could out shimmy me every day of the week and twice on Sunday. (I beat her at the jiggling thing though but only because my flesh jiggles automatically when I exercise, occasionally managing to be on beat simply because of the odds involved.)

The real sign of just how dreadful I was at this though was that when the class was over, another woman came over to me and patted me on the shoulder consolingly as she tried to show me how in the heck you do the last combination I totally flubbed. She admitted that it was a little hard because it was two combinations together and that that complicated matters. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I couldn't pull off one combination, nevermind two. And as for arms and legs moving in concert and then independently, well that is totally beyond me too. I'm still trying to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time. She did tell me that I would eventually pick it up if I just keep coming to class. I suspect she talked to me because she wanted to see my face, making it easier to avoid having to dance near me if I come again.

I am pleased that I managed to stay upright the entire class given that when I first emerged from the pool, I could trip over a curb in the wilderness. Running has helped me a bit with that problem. And I have to say, running is way, way, way easier than this Zumba stuff. Unless you are Phoebe from Friends, you can likely run. As Zumba proved, I will never be a candidate for Dancing With the Stars. And if they did a housewife version, I would be laughed off the island before I even got both feet on terra firma. Will I do it again? Maybe. I want to know how long it takes to lose the self-consciousness? Because the klutzy inability to groove has been carefully cultivated not only for my entire lifetime but is centuries old encoding on my genes. My ancestors clearly never had to dance for their dinner or their line would have died out long ago.


  1. I would MUCH rather humiliate myself in a dance class than ever run again. Running makes everything on me hurt, and even the music on my mp3 player can't distract me from how much I hate doing it.

    As for your workout, I found out when I was in the army that I could burn an amazing amount of calories just trying to AVOID PT :-). I bet you got a great workout from bumbling around, trying to keep up.

  2. Ha. Sounds like me in any step class. I'd have to go about ten times before I wasn't "Stepping" into other people (or the wall).

    When I go to a new class, even just aerobics, let alone anything fancy, (line dancing? HA!), I refuse to even attempt the arm movements until I'm not falling over. I need my arms flailing about to stay upright, thank you very much.

    Not that I've gone to anything in the past decade. No gyms in my life...

  3. From my perspective, that fact that you stayed upright throughout the class makes it a WIN! :-)

  4. This is why I don't belong to a gym. I still hate running, so I've taken to doing more "aerobics"/step type workouts. But I do them in the privacy of my own home so nobody can laugh at me (except my kids and DH, but they do that all time anyway).

  5. Hahahaha. I went to a Zumba class once with my friend in Columbia. Now, I did take ballet for 12+ years as a kid so I'm okay with steps and routines, but boy it wasn't for me. You'd have been so upset in my class - we were also running late, the last two people there. And so I ended up IN THE FRONT ROW. Yep, had never done the stuff before, had no clue what I was getting into. While I wasn't the most coordinated person in ballet it's kinda nice that in the real world I am actually more coordinated than the average bear. Walked 3 miles in a very industrial part of Phoenix today, out near the airport. 65 degrees and sunny.

  6. Fellow member of the two left feet club here -- kudos for sticking out the class!

  7. Hee hee, I can't believe that lady came and approached you! Well, I guess she was just trying to help. Everyone is raving about Zumba in Finland, we might organize a lesson for the ladies at work, just to try it out. Wish me luck ;)


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