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the Zumba post

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.

me, in the throes of what tom refers to as “zumb-ecstasy.” photo by julie grandfield

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.

23 Comments Post a comment
  1. I love Zumba too, altho I am a fair-weather z-er who is waiting out the remodel rather than fight for a wristband and oxygen in the temporary room. I have to admit that when I first learned you were a full time lawyer and a mom too I was very discouraged, having convinced myself that you and the other front-row experts were former (or current) Blazer dancers who spent 5 hours a day working on the moves, thus justifying the vast difference in our skill levels. But ive gotten over that and now just try to find my one zumbextacy zone, and one of these days maybe I’ll even get up on that stage.

    July 12, 2012
    • i predict two more weeks of the wristband insanity before full-fledged rioting ensues. also, i’m an 80% lawyer now. mondays are for working on zumba moves. we are getting you up on that stage, alison

      July 13, 2012
  2. I am now officially inspired to try Zumba. They have it at my gym, but I haven’t taken the plunge because I’ve been taking a class called Zen Combat where the instructor implies Zumba isn’t hard (even though I suspect ZC is Zumba with karate). Your post post proves otherwise though. Besides, I could use more ass (on me).

    Becca (

    July 8, 2012
    • the name “zen combat” is pretty awesome. before zumba, my aerobic exercise of choice was kickboxing, which was a great workout but super hard on my elbow and knee joints. in my experience, zumba is a smoother (yet still effective) ride

      July 13, 2012
  3. jahlawl #

    As a guy I’ve always wanted to try out Zumba, I know men do it, but at my gym here in the uk its a very much female populated class lol, and I’m far to shy to be the random dude in the corner flailing his arms and legs out of tune :p That being said I’ve taken my girlfriend to a class and she pretty much looked exactly like you in your “zumb-ecstasy” pose haha.
    Great read 🙂 maybe ill just get it on the wii and try it at home 🙂

    July 6, 2012
    • women in Zumba love men who are brave enough to give it ago. we treat them like adopted pets

      July 6, 2012
  4. I love Zumba. It’s my favorite spectator sport 🙂

    July 5, 2012
  5. I admit I’m a Zumba sceptic. This is because I learned salsa dancing before I knew of Zumba’s existence: Zumba in my eyes is nothing more than tame salsa. The entry fee to Salsa club nights I suspect come out cheaper than a Zumba class, but you get the same sweaty work-out for up to 3 hours straight. And the hot Latino men are a bonus. 😉
    [I don’t have the heart to say anything more negative about Zumba though, because you look like you’re enjoying yourself immensely in the pics. So just keep on partying.]

    July 5, 2012
    • i love salsa! went for salsa lessons for a friend’s birthday in high school and it was the best time. need to do that again!

      July 5, 2012
  6. i just went to my first zumba class on tuesday, and i absolutely loved it! i really enjoyed reading your post about it, felt nice to see my feelings about it mirrored! check out my post about it 🙂

    July 5, 2012
  7. movingonmyown #

    Exactly 😉

    June 30, 2012
  8. Em #

    Which studio do you go to? I tried Zumba at my comm. center and it was a bit on the boring side…

    June 29, 2012
  9. Courtney #

    I’m glad you had the courage to blow the lid off Zumba. Seriously, if people are looking for a good Zumba place, Clubsport at Bridgeport also has good classes. If they ever get the MAC remodeled, I may join you there at some point.

    June 28, 2012
  10. Amara #

    Great post and very true! You captured what Z means. My friends think I am crazy because I love it so much. Thank you for another great post. AND for the record, I usually stand behind you and do not move away 🙂

    June 28, 2012
    • and that means a lot to me, given your fear of other people’s germs.

      June 28, 2012
  11. Shawn #

    You nailed Zumba in this post! So happy to be right there with you (and not in the spinning class – no offence spinners).

    June 28, 2012
  12. I’ve been intimidated by Zumba this whole time – and stuck to things like running on a treadmill, or spinning (well, that one time). But this is inspirational and makes me think it will be worth it to look like an idiot for a little while. I’m going to go for it and try it – and hopefully blog about it afterwards. (I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes…)

    June 28, 2012
    • i find running on a treadmill to be much easier now that the kardashians are on 24/7. i don’t even need sound. in fact i suspect they are better without sound. please do blog about your experience!! can’t wait to read.

      June 28, 2012
  13. Zuuuumbaaahhhh Baby! Lovin’ it from the first moment~ It’s refreshing to express, push boundaries, and have a blast while sweating profusely~ See you in class Friday lady~ :0)

    June 28, 2012
    • hey shannon! i’ll see you if i can swing a wristband…

      June 28, 2012

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