*Mzungu = white person
I just attended my first (and last) Zumba class. Here’s how it went:
My friend Dena and I were the only non-Kenyans in the class. And unfortunately, I was the only person who had no sense of rhythm in the class. I was also the only person in class wearing ratty gym shorts instead of sleek black yoga pants. I must have missed the Zumba fashion memo. And did I mention that the class took place in front of a wall of mirrors? Because it did, and that only made matters worse.
That combination: exposed, pale legs + no rhythm + mirror wall = jaw-droppingly hilarious/awful. Dena and I couldn’t stop laughing at my gawky attempts to shake my booty or salsa across the gym floor. At one point, I even tried to hide behind the Kenyan woman in front of me. But my moves were so bad that I could still see my limbs flailing about in the mirror when I missed a beat or moved a bit too exuberantly.
The Kenyan instructor was not the gym class instructor I was used to either. First, she made these weird faces at herself in the mirror while demonstrating the moves. I felt like I was watching America’s Next Top Model teach an aerobics class while posing for a fashion shoot at the same time.
Second, the instructor called people out. She literally stopped the music, and called women to the front of the room to chide them for not trying hard enough. On the one hand, I was grateful that the instructor hadn’t called me out for being klutz. On the other hand, I was worried that maybe I would be next. Needless to say, I zumba-ed myself to near death so that I wouldn’t have to atone for my laziness in front of the whole class.
At my near-breaking point, we started on the chair routines. Does this happen in other people’s Zumba classes? It was like a cross between lap-dancing and chair-assisted squats. For your sake, I hope your Zumba class doesn’t involve chair routines. It just made me feel even more silly and awkward. I was also worried that in my exercise-induced haze I might fall off the chair or trip on it during the move where we had to sashay around it.
In classic Kenyan fashion, the class ended 45 minutes late, and I limped out to my waiting taxi, anxious to get home. It was a little bit like Cinderella fleeing the ball, except I was wearing sneakers instead of glass slippers.
So, now that I have failed at Zumba, I need a new exercise plan. Any suggestions?
photo credit: Simon Schoeters via flickr creative commons