Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Zumba--the Latin dance workout craze that's sweeping the nation--is making a total idiot out of me because...

I can't dance.  At all.  Not one bit.

There are plenty of Latin ladies in my Zumba class who can shake their thang.  I stare at them in complete amazement.  They are stepping in time to the beat, following the instructor spot-on, looking graceful and coordinated as they sweat out the day's cares and calories. 

And then there's me.  White Girl.  Standing there.  Lost and flustered.

I'm German.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  My hips are square, and after multiple visits from "the stork" they've become even more so.  We Germans don't dance, we wear lederhosen and eat sausage and sauerkraut and arm wrestle each other.  When one of us gets a wild hair, we polka.  But have you ever watched someone polka?  There is knee-bending and squatting, yes.  Hip action?  Decidedly not. 

There's also quite a bit of Native American in my blood.  And while perhaps my ancestors way back when on the Oklahoma plains could dance the night away with their tom-toms and moccasins, that genetic trait came to a screeching halt about three generations back and left smoking tire-tracks right up to where it was supposed to enter my DNA.

I attend Zumba classes on Monday nights at a dance studio that's about 25 minutes away.  It's dark by the time I arrive.   

Pulling into the parking lot last night, my knuckles turned white as I tightly gripped the steering wheel.  Straining to catch a glimpse through the glass-front studio windows, I could see my worst Zumba nightmare had become a reality.

The back row was already full.


On a typical day, especially with my kids in the car, I'm a great driver.  I don't speed, I maintain a safe following distance, I observe all warning signs.

But women like myself (self-conscious bad dancers, that is) will drive like complete maniacs to get to Zumba in time to occupy the coveted back row.  We'll speed, tailgate, run red lights, and develop feverish cases of road rage. All because we can barely stand the thought of someone watching us from behind as we fail (or should I say "flail") miserably at dancing.

So I was at the cross-roads:  park the car and go in or peel out and drive away?  I decided to be brave last night and went on in to make a fool of myself.

If you've not "zumba-ed" before, there is nothing like it.  It's like trying to pat your head with your right hand and rub your belly with your left while you're spinning plates on your fingers and juggling flaming swords.  We jump and jiggle and bounce so much that I feel certain some important internal organ will dislodging itself and go splat! on the floor at my feet.

But seriously, we're supposed to be shimmy-ing this and wiggling that all while our hands are striking graceful poses?


I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror: pigeon-toed with a look of utter bewilderment knitted across my beet-red face.

Sexy, huh?

I wouldn't be more out of place if I showed up in a tutu and a Batman mask with hot dogs sticking out of my ears. 

On the good nights, that is -- when I do make it to the back row -- I'm pretty hacked-off when the instructor leads the class in a turn. 

"What in TARNATION are you doing?", I think.  "Don't you know this is why I am on the BACK ROW?  I do not want 30 people to go from watching you, Little Miss Dancing With The Stars, to watching me!"
But the crazed women in my class are letting loose with peppy "yai-yai-YAIs" and having a complete blast. 

And so then I think, "What is wrong with you hooting, hollering, fun-loving extroverts?"

But I won't quit.  Why?

Because I like it. 

It's challenging.  It's so far out of my comfort zone.  I'm terrible at it.  But I am determined not to quit, ever hopeful that even matronly White Girls like me can learn how to dance (and get less jiggly in the process).

By the end of the hour-long session, my hair is dripping wet with perspiration. I get kind of intoxicated on sweat and during the last 15 minutes I don't care anymore.  I just grin like the Cheshire Cat and flail around and laugh with the rest of the precious sweaty ladies, one of whom I hear exclaim, "I think my underwear are lost forever!"

Amen, sista!

I can't think of a better way to burn 8,427 calories an hour.


Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous piece, and you've perfectly described how most of us feel in exercise classes of most any kind! You've got me laughing out loud!

Anjie said...

Okay definitely going with you the next time!