University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel.
Published work can be seen at www.theyorker.co.uk and www.yorkvision.co.uk
When it comes to dancing, I'm hardly Michael Jackson, so my personal trainer's suggestion to attend a Zumba class at my local gym was my idea of hell. The thought of tripping over my two left feet and bumping into the toned, tanned and oiled up latina-ladies that are so prevalent on the cover of various Wii games was simply terrifying, but alas, I was advised that exercising in groups was far more motivational and could even be fun, so who was I to argue?
Luckily for me David Lloyd offers the majority of its classes as part of the membership fees, so, asides from having no female company to go with, I really had no excuse not to try it; after all, it's a dance craze that's seemingly enchanted thousands of females across the nation. The dance studio at David Lloyd in York is spacious and out-of-the-way enough to hide sheepishly at the back, which I did in spectacular new-girl fashion. Far from the 21st century reinvention of Olivia Newton John's Physical video that I was expecting, however, the room slowly began to fill with middle to senior-aged ladies, with only a few pre-pubescent posers peppered about, albeit mostly with their heads held high in the front row. The biggest shock however was the appearance of the instructor- I admit, I had my own negative preconceptions about her; I imagined an over-zealous bimbo akin to the Green Goddess, or perhaps, in this day and age, the girl from the Call On Me video.
To my surprise, then, strutted in an early-forties Bolton or similar-esque lass, five minutes late and slightly dishevelled, but immediately warm and welcoming as she began a tirade of abuse concerning this afternoon's traffic. Her hands-free microphone truly was redundant as her North-Western accent bellowed across the dance studio and she charmed us with her light-hearted humour, greeting us all as if we were good friends. I was impressed to see someone twice my age with such vigour, though this could only be daunting for the impending hour of exercise that was upon us.
So came the music, and we were thrown into a fast-paced samba-inspired dance routine accompanied by the appropriate croonings of a Cuban singer. There were no beginner, intermediate or advanced levels for this class, so that might have explained the lack of instruction; our teacher simply threw herself into the moves and we were supposed to follow like poorly-led puppets. To my fortune however I was surrounded by equally nervous women who, like me, had sheepishly raised their hands at the beginning in answer to the ominous 'any new starters' question. They, like me, had trouble keeping up, and were equally disgruntled that the tracks were over just as they had started to understand the acrobatic mish-mash of moves.
As time pressed on however, it did get easier, if not a little sweatier, once we had understood the basic rhythm of each individual dance routine, and it was encouraging to have our somewhat over-sexualised instructor shouting out various motivational phrases, 'come on girls! Let's be sexy!' etc. After getting over my initial embarrassment I came to realise that I was just one in a crowd of like-minded women who wanted to try a different form of exercise in friendly company. Of course, it wasn't without its fair share of annoying posers in the front row, the same kind of people who used to annoy you at school when they would be the first to raise their hands to any question.
Teacher's pets aside, my first experience of Zumba was certainly an entertaining one- it's true, whereas you might find yourself getting off the treadmill because you simply haven't got the stamina, group exercise classes really do encourage you to push yourself a little harder. 55 minutes in and we were warming down to the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra's Fly Me To The Moon, a welcome track amongst a sea of other unrecognisable Latin-inspired ditties.
While I may not have had a tangible record of calories burned as I would have in my normal gym, I did certainly have a good laugh at Zumba, and wasn't made to feel silly at all as I made the wrong turns and pulled silly faces in an effort to be 'sexy.' If your cross-trainer routine is getting a little boring for you, then I do sincerely suggest you give it a go- just be prepared to walk out of there looking a little more Sweaty Betty than Green Goddess.
Hilarious... it sounds like a lot of fun.
Unfortunately I once stopped by my local gym and peeked through the window at a Zumba class hoping it would be like the one you described. Alas, it was a room of skinny, lycra clad posers, all coordinated (in both dress and movement) and not a single saggy tracksuit in sight...
Haha, really? That's unfortunate- I guess I must have gone on OAP Tuesday or something! Just adding the finishing touches to an equally awkward try at skiing lessons- life is just more fun when you're a bit clumsy, isn't it? x