Ditch the workout?

This is the seventh consecutive Saturday I have gone to the Y to work out, but today I didn’t start with the elliptical machine. When I made up my mind on my birthday (seven weeks ago) to work out regularly, I had missed the deadline to sign up for the current session of classes at the Y. I wanted to be sure that this time (sessions start Monday) I found a class to join.

I’ve always found it works better to have someone else to exercise with. Besides having someone to talk to (before and after exercise if not during), I have a much stronger motivation to show up because I know someone else is expecting me. When I was younger I ran regularly with a few other people, but I kept getting shin splints and having to take a break from running while my legs got better. I decided running was not the ideal exercise.

I like walking, and for a long time have wished for someone to walk with regularly. (My husband does not like walking for exercise; he much prefers racquetball, which I tried to learn but did not really care for.) For a while there was a group of women, from the church I was attending, who would walk together at the park (in warm weather) or at the mall (in cold weather). But too often no one would show up besides me.

I walk every day with my dog, but she is a far from ideal companion. She is totally unresponsive to my attempts at conversation, and she is constantly wanting to stop and sniff at something. Plus she poops in people’s yards, requiring me to stop and collect her poop into a bag to take home. Walking with a bag of poop is not my preferred way to get exercise.

The Y offers a variety of classes, but most of them are during times that do not fit in my schedule. After looking through all the possibilities (which were not very many once I ruled out anything before 6 PM), I decided Zumba looked like the best one to try. I had no idea what Zumba was, but the fact that the Saturday morning class was for the whole family seemed promising.

This morning was a demo class – no charge, no commitment. Saturday morning is apparently not a very popular time. There were only six of us, all women. I had suggested to my son Al that he join me, but he said he thought Zumba was for women. Perhaps the families of the other five women felt the same. One girl came along but she just watched from the side.

I had expected some kind of explanation of what to expect, and a demonstration of the moves, but the instructor simply turned on the music and started. We did our best to copy her moves. (Apparently this is the normal way to conduct the class, according to this article.) I was relieved to see that I was not the only one who had trouble doing so.

I’ve always had trouble doing anything that requires coordinating both arms and legs. If I got the steps (more or less) right, my arms were going the wrong way, or not moving much at all. Sometimes I could get the type of movement right, but with left and right reversed. That wasn’t a problem as long was we stayed in one spot, but when we needed to be moving to the right or left, I had to be sure I didn’t run into anyone.

And just when I finally got the hang of a particular move, we’d be on to doing another. I’m sure my older son would be very good at this – it reminds me a lot of show choir moves. A few of the moves I caught onto easily enough, but at least one of them had me giving up completely on doing the arm movements, so that I could concentrate on at least trying to get the legs right.

I don’t know just how much of a workout it was. I certainly wasn’t sweating at the end, but then, this time of year, I’m not sweating after fifteen minutes on the elliptical machine either. The muscles in my legs, however, were very relieved to stop after the last of the fast songs, and to move into the cool-down routine (which was mostly upper body movements).

Afterward I learned about the beginnings of Zumba, which I was surprised to learn started more or less by accident. It’s become very popular, with more than 12 million people taking a class each week. It’s considered fun rather than a workout, hence the corporate slogan “Ditch the workout, join the party.”

I’ve never been much of a “party” person, between being an introvert and not liking the same music as a lot of other people. I do like the music used for Zumba, though – perhaps because some of it reminds me of music I liked when I was in Spain, or because it wasn’t turned up deafeningly loud as a lot of music tends to be. Or maybe because I was too busy trying to figure out which way to move?

I don’t know whether I’ll decide I like doing Zumba better than reading interesting magazines (especially Smithsonian) while doing the elliptical machine. I suppose it depends how long it takes me to get the hang of the moves so that I can just enjoy it instead of having to concentrate so much. But at least for the next several weeks I’ll have someone else to exercise with.

One Response to Ditch the workout?

  1. Stephen Kahn says:

    I work out at a gym. They have Zumba classes. I am ADD/HD. I am an introvert. I move from machine to machine in sullen solitary silence. Eventually I get there. Actually, the gym is on my list of topics to blog about in my current series of blog posts about cults.

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