Ongoing quest to shake the routine turns into really shaking up the routine

Published 12:53 am Saturday, July 19, 2014


Zumba seems to be a recent dance craze that has swept the nation off its feet and is shaking up workout routines (pun intended). So this week I found out what it was all about.

For those of you who haven’t heard about the workout, Zumba is an aerobic fitness routine inspired by Latin American dance moves.

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I have to credit my roommate for prompting me to take my first Zumba class. Our gym offers it free as part of our membership, and she told me she would like to try it out and take me — specifically — because I would make her look better in the class since I’m so uncoordinated.

Some people might take offense to that, but honestly I was just flattered she wasn’t too embarrassed to be seen with me. I am fully aware of how awkward and uncoordinated I am.

And just in case there is any self-doubt about my own awkwardness, the wall-length mirrors which surround the classroom are there to surely squash any hope I once had that I don’t, in fact, look really clumsy.

Luckily, I had to stay more focused on the instructor than my own reflection in order to keep up. It almost feels like the “monkey-see-monkey-do” of workouts.

I shimmied when the instructor shimmied. I spun when she spun. I even did some Salsa. I looked nothing like the instructor as she did those moves, but my limbs attempted to follow in the same order as hers did.

Certain dances or songs would develop a pattern, but I couldn’t get too confident about predicting the next step. I would inevitably go the wrong way and hit my neighbor in the face. (Sorry, roomie!)

No one expects an expert on the first try. Fortunately, the class — and my roommate — are forgiving that way. The atmosphere was light and breezy, and the point is just to get yourself moving and hopefully have a fun time in the process. I found the latter part of that was easier once I just let go of worrying about how I looked.

Since the class, I read a couple of blogs about others’ experiences with Zumba and talked with friends who have taken the class before. One common theme I’ve found is that most people do feel uncomfortable when they first give it a try — or are too intimidated to even go. Even my roommate — who was Miss Johnson City a few years back — was self-conscious enough to bring me to make herself feel better.

But it’s funny to think about how easy it is to talk ourselves out of something, especially considering we have all had those moments of self-doubt. It’s too easy to think we’re not enough.

Not athletic enough. Not attractive enough. Not graceful enough.

But if I talk myself out of something as simple as a Zumba class because I let it intimidate me, I can only imagine what kind of other things I would miss. I realize there is far too much left to be experienced outside my comfort zone to let that intimidation overcome me completely.

Since the class, I’m far from a dancing workout queen, but I didn’t really expect to take up Zumba regularly. However, at least now I know what it’s like and can relate to others who have done it.

More importantly, I can say I tried something out of my element, knowing that I was enough — because I cared enough to try.

What’s outside your comfort zone?

This is a weekly series about following through with a New Year’s resolution to have a new experience each week. To suggest topics or experiences, email