Wednesday, August 21, 2013

White Girl Reviews Zumba

I started going to a gym a few weeks ago because I am too wimpy to exercise outside during summer, the idea of showering while someone else watched my children was appealing, and I wanted to try Zumba.

I've now been to two Zumba classes. Here are my reflections:

Zumba is dangerous. Two minutes into today's class I gouged myself in the forehead with my fingernail while attempting to do some elaborate Indian dance hand movement. Bollywood star I am not.

Zumba must be a thumb-biting response to centuries of white privilege. Because while my membership at the gym comes courtesy of my husband's energy industry paycheck, that salary can never buy me a Latina booty. Or rhthym rythm the ability to spell rhythm.

Zumba is not a great workout. Maybe it's the instructor, Marianna, catering the class to the majority of the attendees ... who are much older than me ... or else it's just the nature of Zumba. I don't care how much you sway your hips, stomping in a circle is not strenuous. I do work up a sweat by the end, but there's so many breaks between songs that I never hit that horrible/wonderful state where I think I can't go on but I do. Or maybe it's my past soccer experience where I considered two hours of conditioning in 100 degree weather "a great workout." Yes, I know I'll never attain that same level of fitness I so unappreciated as a teenager, but I'd at least like a taste of the burn, you know? What is a great workout is the "Body Works Plus Abs" class led by a fifty-something lady who kicks my trash and left me unable to fully extend my right arm after my first time. She doesn't wear silky capris with "Zumba" emblazoned across her behind, but she provides a much more intense workout. And she doesn't make impassioned bird noises randomly throughout the workout. And she doesn't make me listen to banda music.

Genie pants. Not only do they billow with the seductive power of the Orient ... they also provide a nice optical illusion that gives your booty super powers. Only three wishes, though, please.

Zumba makes me doubt everything I know about anatomy. While it's no revolution in terms of actual fitness achieved ... HOW DOES SHE DO THAT WITH HER BOTTOM? It's like it's not connected to the rest of her body. You know how black people are supposed to have an extra bone in their feet? I'm pretty sure Marianna has something extra in there. I try to mimic her booty-popping, but I end up looking like a tapir with palsy. I know because there are mirrors everywhere. I cannot escape the nightmare that is my frizzy-haired, red-faced, sweaty self. It brings back memories of the worst charades round of my life. I was at a weekend retreat with Nathan's engineering lab-mates and their spouses. The word "gyrate" came up on my turn. Let's just say all the engineers in the room were very puzzled at my, uh, performance. When I revealed the word after the failed round, they all said, "Ohhh, like a gyroscope?" Yeah, guys, just like a gyroscope ... not the inebriated stripper I was just channeling. That's Zumba.

Maybe Zumba could incorporate some whirling dervish dance moves.

Next up: yoga.


  1. Good for you for trying it. I tried aerobics classes years ago and I am too uncoordinated to follow them.
    How did the Body Works class hurt your ARM?
    Your writing is so funny and clever.

  2. Ha ha!!! Too funny. I can't "shake" it either!

  3. Well, if I had been at that retreat, you could have started doing ride that pony and then an impression of Steph's dad. I would have gotten gyrate. :)

  4. Did my research. Extra bones and/or digits are not dependent on race. I mean, look at your hair (and mine for that matter once it reaches a certain length!) So sorry, you are just Zumbalically challenged. No one has extra anything, you are apparently deficient, as the rest of Harper stock, in the rhythm (ha, spelled it correctly the first time!) department!! Also, do not give up on yourself. When I weighed 200 pounds and nearing 40, I ran 25 miles a week in the California desert. I could never do that as a teenager.


  5. Gyrate??? Was this a boxed version of charades? Because who would write that on their strip of paper and throw it into the bowl?? I am cracking up as I imagine you (or anyone, honestly) charading that one.


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