Mami quiere su Zumba

After years of patronizing judgment about stay-at-home moms who love Zumba, I’ve determined I am one. (Aside: When am I going to learn to stop making judgments?)

I was wrong about Zumba, so to all you Latin-dance-inspired exercisers out there, I apologize for my ignorance and I hope you’ll welcome me to your ranks because that was the most obscenely fun workout I’ve ever done. Ever.

I could not wipe the smile off my face. It was a 45-minute dance party complete with deep-beat, foul-mouthed, Spanish-language pop songs. After shouting, “Woo!” and rocking something akin to a Latin pop lock and drop, the instructor, Martha, that lithe little thing, told us to pretend we were at the club. Kinda hard to feel clubby with hand weights, gym shoes and fluorescent lighting, but there, swiveling my hips and popping my shoulders forward and back, I think I found the answer to my quest for a better way (than getting drunk with girlfriends) to let off steam: a dance class.

I’ve always been terrified of being in a dance class, and now I’m convinced I want to try it. Latin dancing? Belly dancing? Bollywood dancing? What it’ll be, I don’t know, but I think it might be the perfect way for my body and me to have a great time together. We’ve always had a complex relationship, and all I know is that today’s Zumba class was incredibly healing. And exhilarating.

I just have one little problem:  I’m embarrassed to dance in front of anyone, especially anyone who’s good. Today felt safe because my 10 a.m.-on-a-weekday dance companions were one other young mom and a studio full of multicultural seniors. However, I’ve casually avoided public, lights-on, non-drunken, mirrored-room dancing my whole life, first because my mom told me as a little girl that I was too big to be a dancer, later because I wasn’t very coordinated and still later because I just figured I wasn’t any good at dancing. But, dang, girl, I’ll be darned if I didn’t look a little bit hot doing the rumba

Duly noted that looking sexy in a geriatric gym class is not something to brag about. But it wasn’t about looking hot; it was about feeling it, and about letting myself get lost in the steps, relishing the pleasure of moving my body and shaking my booty in ways that might not be called for in my day job, for example. Today, I didn’t care about what other people thought of me; I didn’t bash myself for having inferior dancing skills and I just had fun moving my body and getting a workout. Dancing to music I love, while sweating and laughing—and catching an occasional reflection of myself doing it—was electrifying. And something I never thought I could do.

So, my newfound adoration of Zumba gives me pause…how often are the things at which I scoff the same things about which I’m insecure in some way? My hypothesis is that I could be onto the key to dropping my habit of snap judgment. And that would be truly exhilarating._

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