Zumba It Up

February 4, 2013
"En sus marcas listos fuere go!" begins the exhilarating song, infusing new life in us as we bust out our greatest moves. The booming beats seem to have a rippling effect, rumbling the walls as the song progresses. "Keep it up!!" shouts the instructor, Beth, as we dive into the last segment despite a strangely satisfying burn. We are sweating, we are striving, we are releasing. This is Zumba class.

I was first introduced to this unique form of exercise two years ago during a phone call with my Texan aunt. She had just come home from her local gym and was raving about a new class she had taken that had made her toil like never before. "It's called Zumba, and it's this super fun dance to Latin music," she said excitedly. As she turned into full elaboration mode, I tried to dissuade her from what seemed to me like just another exercise fad, but my efforts were to no avail. "Just try it," she begged. "Just once. If you don't like, that's fine. But I promise you, once you start you won't be able to stop."

After a few days of thoughtful consideration, I took her word for it. I found a yoga studio in my town that also offered Zumba classes on weekends, and long story short, I took the plunge. And strangely enough, I found myself slipping on my dance clothes and bicycling to Zumba class every Saturday morning. The Latin music was appealing, the dance moves were straightforward, and the room itself radiated a unique sensation of vivacity.

However, when my friends soon discovered my penchant for Zumba, they, quite simply, had their share of goodhearted laughs. "Isn't it for, you know, middle-aged women?" inquired one. "Yeah," chimed in another, "I've heard it's just plain odd." I took care to inform them that young, admired stars such as Emma Watson and Jennifer Love Hewitt repeatedly profess to include Zumba in their regular workout routines. In addition, Zumba provides a stimulating alternative to the traditional, dreary manner of exercise, making it anything but weird. It, quite simply, comes with a focus on fitness and with a pleasing side-effect of fun.

But I think the real reason my friends were initially reluctant to embark on this Zumbatastic journey with me lied in a private sense of self-consciousness. For, if there is one truth I have learned from Zumba, it is that sometimes in life one has to simply forgo any inkling of doubt or restraint in the name of health and fitness. It comes down to just growing some wings of confidence and soaring with the music. It's about being willing to allow the beat of the music to sync with the beat of your soul.

The health benefits I have experienced firsthand with my time in Zumba have been truly remarkable. I not only feel continually invigorated, but I also sense an increased metabolism and a gratifying sensation of "Yes, I can do this." And I'm confident you can, too. As I have learned, for the sake of fitness broaden your mind to take on new challenges and experiences. You may be surprisingly pleased by the results.

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