My Zumba chronicle

When the class moved two steps to the right I was doing the same, but leftwards.

It was the Wednesday morning Zumba class. Shaila, my Zumba trainer, called out, “Good morning ladies”, in a clear, chirpy voice as she walked into the workout studio. She paused momentarily and smiled again. But this time her smile was brighter and her voice even more cheerful; she nodded and added, ‘…and gentlemen.’ The dance floor was full of women, except for us, a sprinkling of a few men.

As always, the sound of music soon fills the studio and I involuntarily respond moving to the steady, thumping beats now. As a routine, one song follows another — Salsa, Latino, Samba, Hip Hop and sometimes even Bollywood. The music comes alive and reverberates through me and takes charge. The booming beats and rhythm race through my limbs. Led by our trainer, we move in unison, flowing from left to right with our arms swaying back and forth across our chests and shoulders. My feet shuffle, my arms sway and my hips gyrate. Song after song, I unabashedly twirl, jump, lunge and dance joyously with the others. The hour passes in total exhilaration.

When I signed up for Zumba classes, on an utter whim, in a swanky new fitness studio closer home, little did I know that I would be one of very few “senior” men in a class full of younglings (read women) half my age or even lesser. Not having shaken a leg ever before, the first few classes were sheer comedy.

In those first few days, to save myself the embarrassment, I would arrive early each morning and reserve for myself a corner in the last row and huff and puff my way through a gruelling hour of dance exercises. My poor fitness levels generously spiced up the comedy of those mornings at the studio.

While the younglings stretched like rubber bands and danced in harmony with the trainer to form dainty poses, my inflexible tendons protested and managed to keep me out of sync most of the time. When the class moved rapidly two steps to the right – I was doing the same, but leftwards. I struggled to co-ordinate my own limbs and massaged the hell out of my knees and legs after each song. The trainer, I am sure was wondering if my moves were actually Salsa or if I was attempting to gracefully mug my partner! If the group showed they loved me, I am sure it was out of pity for their tender toes. I didn’t give up though.

Thanks to the energy of a wonderful trainer, mercy of a sympathetic group and my steely drive to Zumba, my enthusiasm only seemed to surge with every passing session. In a couple of mo­nths, my wild limbs seemed better co-ordinated and my moves, more fluid.

The soreness and the fatigue miraculously vanished. It is nearly two years now. My fitness levels have trebled. But what is most remarkable is the sheer joy that I have realised in attempting what I thought was impossible. New choices were everywhere. It was the mind that I had to convince. And that done, the Zumba spirit pleasantly possessed me.

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