The great Zumba ex­per­i­ment

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer

There is a sense of ac­com­plish­ment that comes with fin­ish­ing a good work­out.

Your legs burn, your back aches and your en­ergy de­posits are de­pleted, but none of those mat­ter at the mo­ment. You fin­ished the work­out.

You put your body through some­thing it was sorely lack­ing and came out the other side.

Early Satur­day ( July 26) af­ter­noon, I stood in the com­mu­nity gar­dens in Bay Roberts, hands on my knees and my breath­ing heavy and ragged. Drenched in sweat, the back of my blue cot­ton shirt wears the ev­i­dence of my en­durance.

I had just com­pleted an hour long Zumba ses­sion. It was the first time com­plet­ing any­thing re­sem­bling the dance-ori­ented work­out.

It was gru­el­ing. Count­less times, I found my­self just star­ing at the stage 20 feet in front of me as in­struc­tor Amanda Thomp­son ripped through an in­tense rou­tine song af­ter song.

When fi­nally fin­ished, it was a re­ward­ing feel­ing know­ing I had ac­com­plished it.

I had just com­pleted an hour long Zumba ses­sion. It was the first time com­plet­ing any­thing re­sem­bling the dance-ori­ented work­out.

How did this start, you ask? My quest to com­plete a Zumba ses­sion, or the Big Z as I call it, came from a sim­ple sug­ges­tion. On Mon­day ( July 21) af­ter­noon, my edi­tor mo­tioned to the sched­ule for Klondyke Days and sug­gested I do Zumba. No prob­lem, I said.

That was my thought process from Mon­day un­til Fri­day evening. There were jokes about com­plet­ing the pro­gram, both from friends and so­cial me­dia. Friends chuck­led at the no­tion and of­fered al­co­holic bev­er­ages for their op­por­tu­nity to watch.

Then the cal­en­dar turned to Satur­day. That’s when the dread set it. Wak­ing up with a knot in my chest, there was a ner­vous­ness cours­ing through my body. I awoke and it was rain­ing, which pro­duced a men­tal leap for joy and an ex­hale of stress.

Maybe, it would be can­celled and I wouldn’t have to go through with it. Alas, the rain stopped and the tem­per­a­ture started to rise. I would have to dust off my old ten­nis shoes and put them to good use.

A half-hour be­fore the event, I as­sem­bled what I af­fec­tion­ately called my Zumba kit, con­sist­ing of blue and white Un­der Ar­mour shoes, a towel, what seemed like a gal­lon of wa­ter — it was just a litre — and a change of clothes.

Pulling into the park­ing lot, I set my­self for the next hour.

A cou­ple of things crossed my mind when the first en­er­getic notes f loated through the air. My feet don’t move in the ways she was mov­ing. Tak­ing up res­i­dence in the back cor­ner, every­one in front of me and to the left of me are vet­er­ans. They move through the steps like a fish mov­ing along with the flow of wa­ter.

They dip, thrust and gy­rate as if it’s sec­ond na­ture. Me?

I’m more like a baby learn­ing to walk for the first time. Each move­ment is awk­ward and clumsy. There were times I felt like I was learn­ing the ropes. But ev­ery time I did, the script was rewrit­ten.

I ’d like to thank the peo­ple around me. Their gen­tle chides and sup­port­ive words got me through some of the work­out.

At the end, my legs were Jell-O and I wob­bled for a cou­ple of min­utes af­ter.

Zumba is not at all like I thought it was. I’ve gained a great deal of re­spect for the peo­ple that throw them­selves into the ex­er­cise.

Will I take in another class? Who knows.

But , I value what I learned be­cause of it.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Ni­cholas Mercer (left) tak­ing part in Zumba ex­hi­bi­tion in Bay Roberts on July 26. He is joined by Matthew Coombs (cen­tre) and Matthew Sparkes.

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