Some­thing amiss at first Zumba class

I felt like the fat com­edy ex­tra in a ‘Fame’ spoof as I went left when the rest of the room turned right

The Irish Times - Tuesday - Health - - Health Fitness - Ruth Field

Q How did Zumba go Grit Doc­tor?

A We did it. This is me and our lovely au pair, An­nal­isa (above), out­side Pure Gym af­ter our first Zumba class. But, will it be our last? So much it seemed was against us. The first prob­lem was our tim­ing. It was a Satur­day lunchtime class, and we ar­rived five min­utes late (which was en­tirely my fault), although in my de­fence, I was grit­ting out a tram­po­line ses­sion with the twins at Flip Out and get­ting to the gym on time was al­ways go­ing to be tight. As an aside, segue­ing from tram­polin­ing to Zumba is in no way ef­fort­less and not to be re­peated. My legs were al­ready sore from the tram­po­line, not to men­tion my brain which was totally fraz­zled by the ex­pe­ri­ence. Good fraz­zled, but still fraz­zled. And I was late, which I hate! We took our­selves to the only space, right at the back of the class, although to call it a space is also in­ac­cu­rate, as there re­ally was none, and the Zum­ban­istas (?) who had to budge up to make room for us were most dis­pleased about it.

The class was well un­der way – a room full of peo­ple danc­ing very well in­deed to ex­tremely loud mu­sic – and I looked at An­nal­isa as if to ask whether she was sure about this, and if we in the right place, as we tried in vain to join in with a se­ries of ex­tremely elab­o­rate and fast moves.

I felt like the fat com­edy ex­tra in a Fame spoof as I re­peat­edly went left when the rest of the room turned to their right.

What I didn’t re­alise at the time (and would have cer­tainly walked out if I had known), was that this Zumba class had started in Septem­ber. It was a term’s course that we were valiantly join­ing – in week eight. An­nal­isa had meant kindly in with­hold­ing this in­for­ma­tion from me, but the fact that I did not know any of this at the time did not work in my favour. I pranced about mys­ti­fied, try­ing to work out how on earth it was that these other peo­ple had got to grips with all these in­tri­cate moves, squats, spins, dips, grinds, claps and gy­ra­tions so quickly, and were able to im­i­tate the in­struc­tor so ac­cu­rately (was it that cru­cial five min­utes we’d missed at the start of class)?

Was I re­ally this mal co-or­di­nated? Am I this bad at danc­ing?

Our Zumba in­struc­tor was an ex­tremely fit snake-hipped dancer who would not have looked out of place as a pro­fes­sional on Strictly Come Danc­ing. Af­ter each song, she cheered the group, and gave us a chance to have a sip of wa­ter (in our case an op­por­tu­nity to wince and raise eye­brows at each other).

My mo­ment of glory came half way through the class when Michael Jack­son’s Thriller came on. I was able to join in more en­thu­si­as­ti­cally at this point, jogged by the mem­ory of my mis­guided at­tempts at the same moves from var­i­ous wed­dings past, in­clud­ing my own, but other than that brief mo­ment of respite, my fail­ure was spec­tac­u­lar.

When Des­pac­ito came on I thought I might die laugh/cry­ing be­cause I spend most of my time with the twins beg­ging them to stop their woe­ful ren­di­tions of this song.

How much they’d both love Zumba, I thought. How much Olly would love it. And yes, how much I too, would love it, if only I knew how to do it.

For the unini­ti­ated, Zumba is an ex­er­cise fit­ness pro­gramme cre­ated by the Colom­bian dancer and cy­clist/chore­og­ra­pher Al­berto Beto “Power Pedal” Perez dur­ing the 1990s. It features move­ments in­spired by var­i­ous styles of Latin Amer­i­can dance and is per­formed pri­mar­ily to Latin Amer­i­can dance mu­sic.

It’s a full body work­out to boot, de­liv­er­ing car­dio, con­di­tion­ing and strength train­ing while im­prov­ing co-or­di­na­tion. Ev­ery­body was smil­ing through­out the class, so it must be great fun when you know how.

The 45-minute class passed quickly. And, de­spite my in­tense em­bar­rass­ment, I’d had fun, and could see how much more fun it would be once I knew how to do the moves prop­erly, so . . . we’ve signed up for classes in Jan­uary!

In 2018, we are go­ing to learn the steps from scratch and find our in­ner Latino. Who knows, in An­nal­isa’s case it may lead to some ac­tual ro­mance.

In mine, I’m sim­ply hop­ing to look less com­i­cal in class.

The Grit Doc­tor says

Try Zumba. But don’ t join the class in week eight.

Ev­ery­body was smil­ing through­out the class, so it must be great fun when you know how

Ruth with her au pair, An­nal­isa, af­ter their first Zumba class

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