Meeting at the Corner of Zumba and Main

Anyone who worries that Facebook will replace in-person interaction has not visited a Zumba class lately. This high energy dance work out has me smiling every time I go, and part of it is  because of being there with other people. I love the music, and the exercise, and I love to see other people having fun. Some are experienced, and strutting their Zumba moves, and others are newer, learning the steps. Everyone has her own style, and that’s fun to see. There is no pressure to replicate every step precisely; each person can customize the workout so that it is more or less demanding.


Before Zumba, I had never worked out with a group. I have always needed exercise, needed to move, and in the past that has taken the form of cycling or swimming, all in good weather. I love to hit the slopes in the winter, but that’s a several-times-a-year treat, not a daily diet. When the kids were younger, I worked out to exercise videos at home in the winter in between work, carpool, household chores and shoveling. The 45 minutes of time to myself was a cherished thing, and the whole family benefited from a little time to get my ya yas out.


But now that both girls are officially not living at home, I’m happy for the company while I exercise. In fact, it is hard to motivate myself to really work up a sweat on my own. When a friend and colleague asked me to attend a Zumba class as a fundraiser for her work reducing AIDS inAfrica, I decided it was time to try this new craze.


After class yesterday I was chatting with a couple of my fellow Zumbalistas about how we found Zumba, and was fascinated to hear the very different routes that led us there.


One woman had never been an exerciser and at the urging of her son, who had become a competitive athlete, decided to try a gym. Not enjoying the repetitive exercises, she took a Zumba class on a whim.  It was taught by a man who teaches Argentine Tango, and she was hooked. When he left the gym, she looked for a new place to dance. Now she’s a three time a week regular. “I love the energy of this group!” she declares.


The other woman had been a swimmer, but was looking for something else. She is thrilled with Zumba, and feels it has helped her to become more comfortable with her body. “It took me a couple of months before I could even wear tighter exercise pants. And I feel good” she smiles. “I’m using my body in a way that I never have before.”


I have realized that not only I am I more comfortable dancing, I am doing the moves wherever I am. In a Gap store with my daughter a couple of months ago, one of my Zumba songs came on and my feet automatically began to move. I didn’t even realize it until one of the sales people commented, “Mom’s dancing! Love it!”


This happened again at my husband’s work Christmas party. My theory is that “the play list drives the party” and this was no exception. As we chatted with friends, I hadn’t even realized I was moving until the DJ came over to me. “Thank you for enjoying the music. I really appreciate that.” What could I say? I just smiled. And danced up a storm later in the evening.


I’m intrigued now to learn how other people have found their way to Zumba, but one thing is for certain: besides the music and exercise, it is the community that makes this trend a winner.


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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.