I went to my first Zumba class today. Correction: I went to the only Zumba class I will ever attend today.
Before I begin what the title of this post told you was a rant, I’d like to give you some perspective in the form of my fitness/dance credentials: I have taken exactly one year of a combined dance/gymnastics class, between the 1st grade and the 2nd grade. As far as my fitness level goes, I can run a mile in about 12 minutes and I do krav maga once a week. In other words, I am just your average Jane Doe. Not obese, but not the pinnacle of physical perfection either.
Now, on to the main event. I arrived at the gym with my friend, who is a regular, about five minutes early. There was nothing in the room but a couple of very wrinkly, solemn ladies who were stretching in Zumba brand t-shirts and pre-hydrating with Zumba brand water bottles. I assume that they had arrived at the dawn of time, since the old people around here tend to be unspeakably early to most everything. The young instructor was pleasant and chatty as she stood with her back to the wall of mirrors at the front of the class and waited for 5:30 to arrive. A few other people listlessly trickled in. I continued standing there and bouncing on my toes on the padded floor.
Suddenly, without warning, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” began pumping through the speakers at a deafening volume. I was so startled that I jumped a foot in the air, and due to a happy coincidence, that was the first move of the dance we were performing. Well, the first move of the dance that the instructor was performing. I stood dumbfounded for a moment, watching her shake her moneymaker, before I realized that class had started, and this was actually happening. The rest of us flailed around like patients at an epileptic ward, frantically trying to keep up with her footwork. Every now and again she would give an excited “WOOO!” or “AW YEAH!” simply because she could, but those of us who weren’t regulars quickly became frustrated at our inability to keep up as the class wore on.
Zumba advertises itself as a set of simple, repetitive dance moves. My main problem with the class was this: there were no verbal cues. None. Every song bled into the last with no introduction, and while they were popular songs I knew and enjoyed, I could not watch the instructor in the mirror, watch myself in the mirror, learn a dance move, and figure out which dance move we were doing next at the same time. It never slowed down. No one knew what was going on save the teacher, and she continued to shimmy up front while most of us simply tried to move our feet so we wouldn’t be the only ones facing the wrong way while the rest of the group turned in a certain direction. The instructor didn’t prep, coach, or explain anything. She simply gave a delighted shriek whenever a song started, as if she hadn’t turned on the stereo and latin dance music was a gift from on high.
I left after half an hour. I pride myself on finishing what I start, but this was something I wouldn’t subject myself to any longer. It wasn’t an issue of dignity. I knew no one in the class and would never see any of them again, save my friend. It wasn’t an issue of stamina, since at the end of 30 minutes I was giving it my all and was barely starting to perspire. I stopped breathing heavily as soon as I finished the walk to my car. My main problem is that there is no instruction. I wanted to dance and let loose as much as the next girl, but that couldn’t happen because I had no idea what the hell was happening. The moves are relatively simple, granted, but you’re perpetually a beat or so behind.
If you’re into this sort of thing, I’m only judging you a little. What consenting people do behind closed doors is no business of mine. The old ladies were getting really, really into it, and from what I could see they were having a good time sweating and gyrating and approximating the instructor’s moves. I like a little more structure than that. I refuse to pay someone for Zumba when I can awkwardly flail around with my iPod for free.
Have you ever been to a Zumba class? What was your experience like?