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Posts tagged ‘zumba’

downers: sweaty pits

Finn is on the cusp of something. I don’t know if it’s the beginning of manhood, or the end of babyhood, but I’ll tell you this: it doesn’t smell right.

As usual, Cuz voiced it first. “Finn smells,” she said. I had noticed it myself, usually after one of his soccer games, but had been in denial, for months. Normally, Finn smells like warm, active boy—a very good smell. Possibly, the best smell. More and more often, however, that boy smell comes with a dash of Gouda.

I can’t even tell where the smell is coming from. At bathtime, I stuck my nose under his armpit as he grumbled about privacy. It didn’t smell good, but neither did it smell like cheese. I think it’s his feet. I almost keeled over this week when he sat down next to me and pulled his feet, sockless, from a pair of Nikes.

finn pits

How did this happen? Finn is half Asian, and Asians don’t have B.O. I know, because I know a lot of Asians. And in general, none of them smell as bad as white people. It’s not a scientific sample, but take the Asian and white guys I know. The Asians might smell like a shit ton of Polo Sport, but they aren’t going to smell like rotting vegetable matter, like Tom does after a summer day in a suit. I’m just saying. Sidle up to an Asian after your gym class. Maybe not exactly roses. But not so bad, either. I can’t explain it. Might be the lack of body hair.

It sure as hell isn’t the lack of sweat. I am 100% Asian and I sweat profusely in situations requiring even the most minimal amount of physical exertion. Once, after a Zumba class, I passed by a nice old lady in the locker room. “I hope you enjoyed your swim!,” she chirped. Listen, friendly people: sometimes, it’s better not to make assumptions. Sometimes, in fact, it’s best not to say anything at all.

At least my sweat doesn’t smell. I know, because, duh, I’ve touched my sweat and smelled it.

Sweating really creates issues when it comes to clothes. I remember when I wore a pair of tight pants to go dancing, way back in college. They call it vegan leather now, but back then it was called plastic. Imagine dancing in a hot room in skintight plastic pants. I’d dance for a few minutes and then go to the restroom to roll down my pants and sop up the sweat with toilet paper. For the record, it’s really hard to look sexy in your tight plastic pants if people think you have a weak bladder or uncontrolled diarrhea.

Sweat is also really bad with silk. I wear a lot of silk, because it drapes nicely over my A cups and skims over my love handles just so. But for me, even thinking about sweat while wearing silk results in immediate pit stains of man-sized proportions. I’ve spent many a wedding with something wedged under my arm, to hide the evidence. Try hugging someone with a wedding program tucked under one arm, and an evening clutch tucked under the other. Or don’t. Best to wait to be hugged in such scenarios. You can participate in the hug by leaning in. I’m a great leaner.


linds and me, leaning

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time googling stuff like “extreme sweatiness” and “excessive sweatiness” and “does Certain Dry cause cancer.” Linds turned me onto Certain Dry, which she says keeps your armpits sweat free. I’m sure Linds wouldn’t mind me sharing that as a white person, she worries about sweaty pits even more than I do. If there’s someone with B.O. in a room, she immediately assumes it’s her. Even I don’t do that. Anyway, the Certain Dry. It works, Linds says. Of course, she had to stop using it when it started causing her to scratch at her armpits uncontrollably in public. There’s always a catch. Why does there always have to be a catch?

Why can’t they invent a silk that makes sweat invisible? Can you put deodorant on a six-year old’s feet? That Asian you know who smells really bad? I’m all ears.

the best of the season

I like creativity. But I crave order. And nowhere is this more apparent than during our annual holiday cookie bake. Linds comes over, for a full day. We bake approximately 400 cookies. We wrap our precious booty in tins and cookie boxes. We are a FORCE. The day requires coordination and two people who have cooked together enough to have figured out a rhythm.

This year, my boys wanted to help decorate the cookies. But I am very specific about my cookies, having learned years ago from the best of the best, my sister-in-law Susan. I strive for elegance, consistency, and precision in my cookie decorating. I abhor cutesy cookies and stick to a limited palette of holiday-appropriate colors. My kids don’t care about any of that. They just want to slide their feet around in flour, eat raw cookie dough, and sprinkle stuff.

Tate wanted to decorate a cookie. He ignored the red and green sprinkles we’d laid out, and did his own thing. And the end result was my worst holiday cookie nightmare, but it’s alright. It’s the holidays. He can have his blue and pink cookie. But I have to do my thing too. And I have a cookie platter to worry about, and my platter doesn’t do blue and pink. So I admit that I made Finn eat Tate’s cookie first.


It’s been a stellar December. My husband gave into two years of begging and went to a Zumba class with me today. It took approximately 45 minutes of psychological warfare but I got the job done by requesting his presence at Zumba as my Christmas gift. Having given in, he shook his head and muttered under his breath as he slowly pulled on his gym clothes. “I am a sad, sad man.” Climbing into the car, he looked me dead in the eyes and said, accusingly, “Men all over the world have lost something today.” He was so down about it that I almost called the whole thing off, because Zumba is not a downer. It’s a party. But we made it to class. He stood in the back and I was worried he’d try to escape but he grinned throughout the hour and I grinned too, watching his long arms flail around in the mirror.


What’s not to grin about? He loves me more than his pride. For that and so much more, I, in turn, love him more than is rational. And permit me this moment of emotion–love really is the best Christmas gift of all.

Happy holidays everyone.

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.

a donut for gwyneth

I subscribe to Us Weekly; I have for years.  And it’s not, like, an ironic subscription.  Forget weekends–I look forward to Fridays mostly because that’s the day of the week that Us Weekly is delivered.  So I’m not above wallowing in a little celebrity worship.

But not for Gwyneth Paltrow.

When it comes down to it, I just find her offensive.  She makes a joke out of all us normal people who are just trying to get by.  I don’t begrudge her her wealth or her fame, although gee, it must be nice to be born to wealth and then be able to parlay your parents’ connections into an acting career.  I don’t even resent that her wealth and fame make it easy for her to do things like leisurely roast a free range chicken on a Tuesday.  What I do resent is that she is so committed to maintaining the fiction that it is easy to live a “mindful” life like hers, without ever acknowledging how much easier it is to be mindful when you have millions in the bank and an army of servants.  It’s called fronting, and given where my head is at, it’s offensive.

I get to the gym four days a week if I’m lucky, and every time I get there, it’s a miracle.  I have to run yellow lights and eat in the car and sometimes I get to the gym and I’ve forgotten my running shoes or worse, my gym pants.  And when that happens, I sit on a bench and I cry, because at moments like that, it can feel like life is just one never-ending episode of chasing a bus that’s pulling away with the bus driver smirking at you in the rearview mirror.  On the other hand, if I have the pants and I make it to Zumba, I’m feeling guilty most of the workout because I feel like I should be spending that time with my kids.  That’s the reality of my life, and maybe yours too.  So I resent it when Gwyneth says stuff like “I can eat whatever I want to” while tossing off the fact that she works out for two hours a day.  F you, Gwyneth.  First of all, who cares what you eat?  Second of all, I bet I could eat whatever I wanted too, if I had two hours a day to pump the jams with Tracy Anderson and stretch my pasty limbs on a reformer.

relax, coworkers. it’s not hemorrhoids 

The working out stuff is probably particularly annoying to me right now because I’m going to trial in two months and have been so sedentary that my doctor gave me a donut to sit on at work so my tailbone doesn’t break.  But I think GP has the potential, like head lice, to be pretty universally offensive.  What really gets me is how her comments often reflect a special mix of condescension and subtle classlessness that is unique to her.  Perhaps the best example of this is when she told a reporter that she would “rather smoke crack than eat cheese out of a tin.”  I mean, who talks like that?  I guess you might talk like that to your partner in the safety of your home after a couple beers, but who says that to a reporter??  In any event, I’m sure all the people who can’t afford any cheese but Cheez Whiz appreciate her thoughtful implication that they’re on a level below crack addicts.

I don’t get how she continues to have an audience.  When I told my friend Courtney that I was writing this post, she texted: “Plz mention how bad her veggie chili recipe is.  I got duped into giving her 4 hours of my life w that recipe.”  So I’m mentioning it.  Why does GP continue to invade my personal space at the airport by appearing on the cover of every women’s magazine?  Or in the cookbook aisle, or on Travel TV?  Mario Batali, who I already suspect to be sort of an asshole, isn’t doing himself any PR favors by associating himself with her.  WHY WON’T SHE GO AWAY??  We can make it happen, if we put our minds to it.  I remember a dark period about five years ago when it was hard to believe that there would ever come a time when Paris Hilton wouldn’t be plaguing us.  But now, she’s practically gone.

We can make it happen again.

There’s nothing admirable about superiority.  There’s nothing admirable about condescension.  Let’s sprinkle our celebrity love on someone who needs and deserves it.  Like Khloe Kardashian, who’s dealing with a lot in her life (infertility, Lamar’s iffy trade to Dallas, better looking older sisters, borderline taste) and not fronting about any of it.

Happy Us Weekly day.


It is one of the great annoyances in my life when a store I can’t stand sells a product that I can’t do without.  A good example of this is Penzeys Spices, which sells dried spices for low prices.  Years ago, when Penzeys had a campaign that asked its mail order customers to choose the location of their new store, I sent in three postcards for Portland.  That is about as actively as I have campaigned for anything in my life.  Turns out, I needn’t have bothered, because shopping in a brick-and-mortar Penzeys is no fun at all.

When you walk into a Penzeys, you’ll find shelves stocked with two hundred spices–none of which are organized alphabetically–all of which wear labels of the exact same color and are otherwise indistinguishable from one another.  Your increasing anxiety that the cumin is not located roughly between the caraway and dill is only heightened by the surly middle-aged male Penzeys employee who has been eyeing you, from the moment you entered the store, as if you have a sign on your back that says “I’M HERE TO STEAL YOUR SAFFRON.”  I guess you can’t really blame him for staring, because, as the only customer in the store, you are all he has to stare at.  Don’t try to avoid this man, because he works every shift in the store.  He is literally always there.

When it comes to stores I patronize but loathe, however, Penzeys has nothing on lululemon.  This quote, emblazoned on the hideously ugly and preachy bags that your overpriced lycra will be thrown into at checkout, sums up everything I hate about that retailer:

spare me

First off, not to put too fine a point on it, but clearly the person who wrote this does not have children.  I have kids.  My kids are awesome.  But they are assuredly not the orgasm of my life, which is bacon.  This quote is condescending, precious, and vaguely new age-y.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s the holy trifecta of offensive marketing.

The quotes on the bags, though very terrible, are not the worst part of the lululemon shopping experience.  I’m not even going to talk about the insanity of paying $110 for workout pants and $50 for a sports bra, because that’s been done.  Instead, I’m going to talk about Biff.  Biff is not his real name.  But he is a real person.  He is a tall blonde guy who works at the lululemon in the Pearl.  So far as I can tell, Biff’s sole function is to humiliate me when I buy sports bras that require the insertion of padding in the boob cups.  For those who have not had the pleasure–when you buy a sports bra or tank at lululemon, they come with boob cutlets, but you have to ask for them, and a salesperson has to insert them into the garment while you stand there like a flat-chested idiot, watching.  For some inexplicable reason, Biff is usually the one on boob cutlet detail at my particular store.  He will literally jump out from behind a post if I even reach for a sports bra.

It is embarrassing enough having to admit that I pad my workout clothes.  Why does the person who puts the pads in my workout clothes have to be a guy?  Last I checked, there were lots of employers willing to hire white men.  Why does Biff have to work at my lululemon?

So I can read your mind: “Yoona, the aggravation–how do you deal?!?  And why do you shop there?”  First, I hate the store, but my butt loves the pants.  As my friend’s college-aged brother once opined, “No one looks bad in yoga pants.”  And he’s right, assuming you’re talking about the lululemon groove pant.  There is something otherwordly in that luon, the stupidly named fabric that lifts and separates your butt cheeks in a manner pleasing to all.  I zumba (check out a related post from my guru and friend, Monica), and my class is filled with 80 women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, and most of them are wearing this pant, or some variation of it.  These pants look good on everyone.  Second, lululemon understands how to construct a waistband that will hold your stomach in without simultaneously giving you muffin top.  If you think that’s an easy feat, think again.  Third, I want to throw my credit card at the cashier’s face every time I pay for a pair of their pants, but I don’t really have to pay that often, because their products last forever.  They don’t stretch out.  They don’t shrink.  They don’t pill, unless you wash them with towels.  You can even ignore the care instructions and dry them on high heat.

So I’ll probably be shopping at lululemon until someone comes up with a better option.

What stores do you love to hate?