To Zumba or not to Zumba?

Lately all I’ve been hearing about on TV, on Facebook and everywhere in between is “Zumba! Zumba!” Zumba is to 2010 what Sweatin’ to the Oldies was to the 80’s and Tae Bo was to the new millennium. It has officially begun its reign as the new “It” workout. Single and not-so-single ladies of all shapes, sizes and age groups are rushing to the nearest gym to sashay their way to a healthier body and trimmer waistline. I have to confess, after seeing numerous status updates on Facebook from friends of mine about the wonders of Zumba, I decided I had to try it out myself and find out if it lived up to all the hype.

A quick Google search brought me face-to-face with Hooprama, a workout facility in East Nashville that specializes in hula hoop classes. Since I haven’t encountered a hula hoop since the 3rd grade, I decided to forego hooping for its more popular counterpart, Zumba, which I must admit, I honestly didn’t really know much about except that it involved dancing. But I figured, hey, I like to dance. I’m a pretty good dancer. Surely dancing for an hour can’t be THAT big of a deal. I even went into the class feeling a little cocky, convinced I would blow everyone away with my smooth moves and rhythmatic prowess.

Enter the instructor, Kyya – five feet of pure, raw energy and adrenalin.

One sassy samba tune and five minutes later, I was dripping sweat from head to toe. A Michael Jackson-infused remix and ten minutes later, my water bottle was near empty and I started to get concerned that I was on the verge of an asthma attack (I don’t have asthma.) A little more bumping and grinding and 20 minutes in and I was certain they were going to have to call an ambulance and wheel me out of the building on a stretcher, because I just knew a heart attack was imminent.

But then I looked around the room and noticed something…well, kinda magical. This group of ladies (and one brave gentleman), tired from a long day at work, the majority likely headed home to cook dinner for their kids and husbands, study for a test or prepare a work project, from all walks of life and all corners of Nashville…had tossed off the responsibilities and weight of the day and were gleefully shakin’ their groove thing like there was no tomorrow. Women who are likely straight-laced and buttoned-up in their day-to-day lives were shedding their inhibitions and insecurities and allowing their inner goddess to step up to the plate. Hips were swiveling, feet were tapping and hands were waving in the air like they just didn’t care…all on an average Wednesday night in a small workout studio in East Nashville. It was like being in the middle of the most fun, most energetic, most lively dance floor in the city, only wearing sweats and kicks instead of makeup and stilettos.

The official definition of “Zumba,” (for anyone who just doesn’t quite get it, like I was before I took the class) is “a fusion of Latin and International music – dance themes that create a dynamic, exciting, effective fitness system. The routines feature aerobic/fitness interval training with a combination of fast and slow rhythms that tone and sculpt the body” (Hooprama.com). But the definition of Zumba to me is simply FUN. A chance to go have pure, unadulterated fun, dance madly in a room of strangers with absolutely no judgment and get in great shape while doing it (I lost a pound during the course of the class). Is it a real, cardio workout? Absolutely. Zumba is by no means for sissies! But is it also the most fun you’ll have all week? Absolutely! After managing to make it all the way to the end of the class without sitting down or passing out, my hair was a mess, my makeup was running down my face and my entire body was on fire. But you know what? I felt ALIVE. I felt happy. And looking around at the equally sweaty and smiling faces around me, I realized that in the adult world of bills and deadlines and playdates and bad dates, an hour of sheer happiness goes a long way.

So in answering the question, “To Zumba or not to Zumba?” my answer is a resounding “ZUMBA!”

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