Welcome to Zumba. You are here because you want some fun, fast-paced exercise. This is true. But you are really here because you must dance. You must shake that body. You have a need to swivel your hips, you rock them slowly and quickly, you pop them out to the side, you move your pelvis in a sexy circle. You feel the rhythm inside you and you must let it out and here you can do it.
Here you can be free. You wear skin tight black pants, a neon sports bra, your hair is in a funky ponytail. Your skin is clean and bright. You glow with youth and energy. Inside of your shoes your toes tap with anticipation. Your hands clasp and unclasp. You roll your shoulders back one at a time. You move your head to one side, then the other. You move quickly side to side. And now you are ready. The music begins. It is intense and quick. It is always faster than you remember and you set your internal rhythm to meet it. You all stand as one, ready to meet the next 45 to 60 minutes with vigor and verve.
Your leader stands in front of you. She moves and you all move with her. Within seconds you are moving as one. A mass of movement and sass and sensuality. Arms in the air, toes pointing forward and then sideways, voices carrying high above the low beat of the song. The time flies by in a blur of hearts pumping, limbs reaching, sweat dripping. It is over and your communion ends and you return to the real world where no one understands what lurks inside of you. This is what you want Zumba to be. This is what you need it to be. It is supposed to be that place where you have an excuse for sexy dance moves and baring your midriff. But Zumba has one enemy, a kind of Kryptonite that can make it into nothing more than a puny form of Prancersize.
Mirrors. A mirror will show you that even though you took two semesters of Latin Dance in college that you still don’t know how to do that Samba to make your hips the way they’re supposed to. The hip circles look not so much sexy as awkward, like a stripper who’s up for her first dance after running away from her home in Amish Country. That inner rhythm you thought you had? Not so much. Your steps are always half a beat behind the instructor. You’re going right when you should go left. You miss a turn. You run into the woman next to you… again. And again. You may aspire to youthful vigor, but instead you find yourself retreating to your water bottle after every song ends. You watch the clock like a high school senior waiting to meet her boyfriend after class. It’s only been 10 minutes? Surely that can’t be right. It must be at least 20. Your face is bright red. You do not glow, you do not perspire, you don’t even sweat. You drip, you leak, you have morphed into some kind of faucet and surely there must be a pool gathering at your feet. You start to feel badly for the person behind you who gets to witness your ass as it attempts the sexy sways and pops.
They get to see the jiggle, poor soul. So please, gyms. I beg of you. Keep mirrors far away from Zumba. Keep the rooms cool, keep the music loud, maybe dim the lights a little bit so we can all pretend we’re sexier than we actually are.