At this point in winter, exercising outdoors is not fun for me. Maybe it is the 15+ years I spent living in Hawaii still exerting an influence but being outdoors for extended lengths of time is often painful. I still like going to the beach and going for a walk but anything more taxing brings thoughts of frozen lungs and the questions: when does sweat freeze and will that cause unnecessary wrinkles? Add to that my lack of appropriate outdoor extreme weather attire, lots of driving, many bags of those damn Lindt truffle balls and, well I’m feeling soft and white, like a dinner roll. Not to mention the effects of very little sunlight and physical activity on my sensitive brain chemistry.
So I joined a gym and decided to try a couple of classes.
Here is a record of my experience.
Class #1: Zumba
Zumba is an exercise craze that is sweeping the world- so all of their promotional literature insists. On this Christmas Eve morning there were about 6 people in the Zumba class. I was the only new person. This instructor, who wore a small black fanny pack over her Zumba! t-shirt for the entire class, had the kind of tan that makes me grateful to be of a slightly younger generation- one that while maybe not always using SPF 50 was at least not using aluminum foil and Crisco. I have a good sense of rhythm and timing- apparently so good that the instructor thought I was a Latina woman. The first time she made reference to “all these white girls” and their lack of rhythm I truly thought she was talking to the Asian woman in front of me who, incidentally, put a sort of ballroom dancing spin on all the moves. Anyway, I just let the Latina comment go, and did not correct her, even though I knew I should have. Especially when she brought it up again – to the apparent displeasure of my other classmates who smirked at me or rolled their eyes at each other. It just didn’t seem appropriate in the middle of an exercise class to shout from the back of the room that she had me pegged wrong, that I carry no blood line of fiery passion, tropical heat and romance, but am from the stock of people who once dressed in reindeer skins and do not discuss their emotions.
How did I do? Aside from feeling terrible for misleading the teacher and students with my unintentional J-Lo impersonation, I pretty much laughed at myself through the entire class.
The strangest part?
The songs were vaguely familiar (Electric Avenue?) but had been manipulated to include a chorus that enthusiastically recommended Zumba. Also, I ran into the instructor near the check-in desk later in the morning where, after seeing me, she mentioned to the staff people my Latina heritage and that I was a natural in the class. By that time I felt it was far too late to say anything about it. That was awkward.
Class #2 Cardio Blast
At the beginning of this class the instructor introduced the new folks to Roy- who, she said, had at first watched the class from the window in the door (creepy!) but now could practically run the class himself. Roy piped up “I been doing this for 8 years”. Hmmm. Perhaps I should have known then that there was little hope for me. I was a little taken aback by the aged instructor’s 1980’s leotard (complete with matching belt and headband- but not from American Apparel) but more so by the way this otherwise matronly woman chirped… “PUMPIT and ROCKIT!” as she pumped her pelvis forward between moves. I was in trouble the minute she said “grapevine-left-for-two-and-clap”. Or maybe when she said “triple knee”. Or “step-ball-change-and-turn”. A visual catastrophe of moves from dance classes I never attended filled the room, or at least my corner of the back row. Well, whatever. My goal after the first 15 minutes - when my knowledge of basic dance was exhausted- was only to have a good time and to do things that looked at least similar to what the instructor was doing.
How did I do?
After class the instructor came over and said how pleased she was that I had stayed until the end.
The strangest part?
At the end, when we were lying on the floor working our abs (finally- something familiar) she was singing along to the creepy country tune she had chosen to motivate us (something about wanting to know everything about us and have access to parts of our hearts that no one had previously been allowed access to) she was singing along, into her little headset microphone, only she didn’t know the words.
Next up: something like spinning.