Since I started this blog, I’ve written about most of the stuff that’s important to me. But some things are so important that it is difficult to write about them. And that’s why it’s taken me all this time to write about Zumba.
Zumba is an aerobic workout that has been cursed with the stupidest name in fitness since the Abdomenizer. It is really hard for me to talk about Zumba with a civilian because as soon as I say the word “Zumba” the other person will dissolve in a really annoying fit of the giggles. This happens once a week with my best friend, who has taken to Zumba-bashing with a passion she usually reserves only for episodes of The Sing-Off. I’d just like to say that it seems highly unfair that someone who is obsessed with a show hosted by Nick Lachey should be able to mock anything, including Zumba.
So what is Zumba? It’s a craze that is sweeping the nation. You may recall Billy Blanks, and the phenomenon known as Tae Bo. Zumba fever is like that, without the bike shorts. Zumba is essentially a dance-based workout that incorporates Latin and hip hop moves, and I believe it is billed as the craziest party you could hope to have in an exercise studio. Here’s a good conversation starter for your next cocktail party: which came first, Zumba or Pitbull? Put it out there, sit back, and watch the sparks fly. That’s right. Pitbull, currently infecting a radio near you, is essentially Zumba’s house band. You’re smelling what I’m cooking, right? You’re getting a whiff of Zumba.
If you’ve tried Zumba and you find it lame, I would suspect that you either 1) haven’t done it for long enough, or 2) have the wrong instructor. It took me two months to learn the moves enough to do them effectively, and about twice that long to get over caring that I looked totally ridiculous. It seems to be a Zumba truth that the less you care how you look in Zumba, the more you will embody the spirit of Zumba. My friend Teal, who took the pic at top, has not an inhibited bone in her body, and I’d basically pay to watch her do Zumba. Besides, there are always one or two guys in the class who look like they’re there because they lost bets to their wives—I’m never going to look less coordinated than them, and that helps. But make no mistake—Zumba is an effective workout. If you gyrate your hips for an hour, you will tighten your core and probably lose some weight. And once Zumba gets its hooks into you, that hour doesn’t feel like an hour. It feels like 17 minutes. When’s the last time you went on an hour-long run that felt like it was 17 minutes? Never, you say? Me neither.
You can lose weight doing a lot of things, including impaling yourself on a bike seat in a spinning class. Not to digress, but the one time I took a spinning class, it felt like I had entered a wrinkle in the space-time continuum where all the clocks had stopped and there was nothing to do but ponder how it could be possible to be bored while feeling that much pain in my crotch. Anyway, you can get fit doing something else, but here’s what I’ve never been able to get from a workout until Zumba: an ass. I’m not saying it’s a great ass, or even a good one, but it’s an ass. After 35 years of having the classic Asian pancake butt, it’s nice to look back there and see something vaguely three-dimensional for a change.
As for the instructor, there is no doubt that my Zumba instructor could melt your instructor’s face off in a dance contest. Not that Zumba would ever be a contest, because, as I said, it’s a party. Andrea dances and choreographs like a FIEND, and has a shock of curly hair that looks totally cool when she dances and gets progressively cooler the sweatier she gets. How does she do that? When I get sweaty the only thing that happens is that the people around me start moving away. Andrea can also do Zumba while wearing a hat. In my mind, that means she’s ascended to the highest plane of Zumba-dom.
So try it. You might like it. And if you don’t, you’ll have a legitimate reason to make fun of it. You can’t lose.