Monday, May 5, 2014

Zumba By Any Means Necessary

Image courtesy of
Serge Bertasius Photography
When I first heard about Zumba I didn’t pay it any mind because I wasn’t interested in another exercise fad. Remember when hot yoga was hot? Pilates? Pul-lease. I’m embarrassed now to think of how much I weakened my living room floorboards by trying to keep up with my Billy Blanks Tae Bo tapes. But when I got an opportunity to take a free Zumba class I figured why not.

This winter has not been my friend. Severe low temperatures and back-to-back snow storms did not inspire me to go to the gym. Add in all my broken promises to excavate my exercise mat from behind the couch and work out at home, and its no surprise that my hips are looking hippier than I’d like. And to paraphrase BeyoncĂ©, I don’t think you’re ready for this belly.

Zumba, according to my friends at Wikipedia, is “a brand name for a fitness program consisting of dance and aerobic exercise routines performed to popular, mainly Latin-American music.” That sounded promising since I love to dance. No, I mean: LOVE to dance. And it turns out that I enjoy Zumba so much that I’m sorry I didn’t try it sooner. It was just as much fun as partying at a nightclub but without the cover charge, over-priced drinks, and over-high heel shoes.

I guess it all starts with The Instructor. She’s very encouraging and all are welcome so there’s a wide range of skill levels. There are women who look like they’re perfecting their strip-club pole skills while there are others who completely destroy the stereotype that all Black people have rhythm. And you know what? That's okay. These aren’t audition for Alvin Ailey. We’re all there to have fun and work out to the best of our ability.  Now, you would think a gymnasium of 50 plus people would begin to smell a little rank. But once we get going, this group of Black women smells like a beautiful blend of baby powder and Carol’s Daughter.

It’s particularly inspiring to see the older women in class who are not letting their age diminish their vibrancy. But I’ll be honest there are a couple of them who kinda scare me. We forget sometimes – or maybe it’s just me – that an older woman was once a young woman. And I’ve seen these current nanas (former ill nanas) werk it like they can still put a hurtin' on a man. They may not be flat out dropping it like it's hot, but they can still wave it like it's warm.

The most awkward part of the class is seeing the portraits of dead Civil Rights leaders that adorn the walls. If you haven’t guessed, the free class is offered in my neighborhood and I live in the hood. I feel a little self-conscious shaking what my momma gave me under the grave, bespectacled gaze of Malcolm X.  I can only hope that he would approve of me trying to stay in shape by any means necessary.

The Urban Erma, the longest running column on, was created and written by stand-up comedian Leighann LordListen to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher RadioWatch the video edition on YouTube.comIf you enjoy The Urban Erma please leave a comment, Like it on Facebook, follow on Twitter, And share it with your friends. (Share it with people who are not your friends and maybe they will be.) Get her free e-books of The Great Spanx Experiment and Sometimes I Wish Facebook Had a Hate Button. 

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