Zumba!

I have become aware of a cruel irony especially apparent at this time of year, as many of us recognize the need to engage in more, or fewer activities that affect our health.  Although I hesitate to call mine a resolution, I am trying to incorporate more exercise into my schedule because, even though it sounds good, I don’t believe that “running around” is providing me with the health benefits I should be considering at this age. The irony, of course, is that when I was younger, I needed less exercise and had time for more, and now that I am older and requiring more, I have much less time.

I have begun attending a Zumba class.  If you’ve never head of it, I’m not able to tell you much, since – and this is why I don’t call such plans resolutions – I have only been twice.  From what I can tell, the instructor uses simple dance steps to provide a cardio and core workout.  And just as I have great difficulty actually getting to the classes, once there, the degree of difficulty in performing said “simple” dance moves does not decrease.

Both classes I attended with a friend who is a certified fitness instructor, and as the first began, I was struck by an obvious realization: if I didn’t want to look completely ridiculous, it was probably a bad idea to take a spot beside somebody who receives actual training in, and has been instructing similar classes for more than a decade.

Fortunately, I consider my heart health more important than the risk of looking like an idiot, and thanks to my 14 and 10 year old kids, I have become really quite good at laughing at myself.  The manner in which I run – or throw, catch or do anything else that requires coordination –  are all great sources of entertainment for my kids.  I can’t say I ever actually looked good participating in these activities but I am pretty sure that such manoeuvring of my younger self would not have caused quite the hilarity that it does now.

As the music began, my friend, who knows me well, offered some advice.  “If you can’t get the steps,” she began, “just shake it.” I had forgotten about her gruelling enthusiasm for fitness activities, and her ability to get the absolute most out of every move…and how I used to curse both from the back of the class when I attended hers.

As I considered her words, I could conclude nothing else but the only time the words “Just shake it” would be worthwhile advice is if I were standing behind a well-stocked bar preparing a martini.  But on a gym floor, I thought it no coincidence that her suggestion of “shake” and my reality of “stiff”, would actually combine nicely.  Surely, a drink mixed with those two descriptions would render me…umm, much better able to keep in step!

Another problem this type of class exemplifies is that my limbs don’t always perform the way evolution intended.  The swinging of my arms does not seem to naturally match (or, oppose?) my steps.   When I actually have to think about and plan for this to happen, I have serious concerns that my issue goes much deeper than lack of coordination.

There is, however, one instruction we are given, that seems to be the only action at which I excel, and can achieve without any trouble at all.  It’s intended to be a reminder of sorts, but to me, it’s a source of pride that rests well within my realm of ability.

Breath!