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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Is it Zumba or is it Maggie?

At my core, I am a dancer. Not a professional, not by a long, long shot. I am a dancer from the heart (which also means that I should do so in the dark or at home). When I hear a good beat or infectious rhythm, I just can't help it, I have to move. When I heard that there was an organized dance exercise class that embraced my own love of dance, I knew I had to try it. It was called Zumba, much cooler that Jazzercize or Dancing to the Oldies with Richard Simmons. I signed up for a class through community education.

The class was packed with about 75 women (yes, all women) and the buzz was electric. The instructor, a gal named Maggie who seemed approximately my age, was welcoming,  encouraging and full of energy and enthusiasm.  The hour went by quickly and was kind of a blur as I struggled to fall into step with the ladies around me. I limped out with a strained hip knowing that I had found my place. I was made for Zumba. 

For the next 2 years, I attended every class. I learned the routines and positioned myself closer to the front of the class. I got the real Zumba shoes and had Zumba playlists on my iPod. Make no mistake, a Zumba class is exhausting but no matter my mood upon arriving, it was better when we were finished. I felt cool, sexy and fit. 

During the Bye Buy year, I evaluated most aspects of my life. One area that needed improving was spending quality time with my husband. We decided to join a gym together. It was expensive so I no longer had the budget to join Maggie's Zumba classes. The gym claimed to have Zumba classes and I joined in at three different times with three different instructors in hopes of finding a replacement for my favorite class. 
Whoa ... very different. Perfect-bodied instructors that quietly go through the moves. No wooos. No calling out the next steps. No reminding us that it's okay to fall into freestyle every now and then. I did not feel joy. I tried the Zumba home DVDs. Not so great. I tried playing the songs on my iPod and doing the routines from memory in my living room. Not as much fun. Perhaps Zumba wasn't as fun as I remembered? Or could it be that it wasn't the Zumba I liked, but Maggie? 

I think what I really liked was having a room full of enthusiastic, like-minded women who can dance with abandon without embarrassment. I loved the lively music, even though it wasn't strictly from a Zumba soundtrack. I loved that it was okay not to pretend there was a pole involved. Just joy, pure dancing joy. 

I did finally find a Bodystep class at our gym that is pretty good and my husband even comes along. But as soon as the budget allows, I'll be back at the community ed class with Maggie, shaking my groove thing. If you are in the Lake Orion area, I highly recommend trying Zumba with Maggie. Since I find it so different from actual Zumba, I think I'll call it Mumba (or Zaggie?)
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