A few years ago, I dragged a neighbor to a zumba class at a rec center. “It’ll be fun,” I told her. How could it not be? Our teacher was this middle-aged redhead who must have taught Shakira how to shake her hips. Sarah and I had so much fun laughing at ourselves. While our rhythm was excellent, we were unable to follow anything other than a straight-forward left-right march. At the end, we were hot and sweaty and laughing. Thus began my love affair with Zumba.
Since then, I’ve attended classes in many different locations with different instructors. It is my expertise that allows me to write a blog explaining how to not be intimidated by Zumba.
The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of zumba. I have provided a comparison chart for you.
How can you tell which Zumba you have signed up for? Sometimes, you just have to wait until the warm-up. If you ease into it, you’ve probably landed yourself in a regular Zumba class. If they have you running salsa-sprints across the room in the first 8 bars, then you’re in a Mexican Death Zumba class. Have no fear. You might feel like death is knocking on your door more than once, but you will survive…unless they rumba you to your grave.
1) Zumba is much better with a friend. Sometimes, if you go alone, you feel like a lone idiot in a sea of excellent dancers. Bringing a friend along helps you to relax a little and gives you someone to talk to during your drink breaks. If they are a less-stellar dancer than you, so be it.
2) Upon entering a Zumba class, you immediately set your stuff down and take a drink of water. Do NOT go out onto the floor until the music has started or you’ll look like an eager beaver. If you have to feign a text message from your husband to avoid awkard conversation, so be it.
3) As far as positioning goes, you really need to choose wisely. In general, the rows of people indicate their level of expertise in dancing and/or confidence. For example, people in the front row tend to be mega-zumbaheads. I offer you the following crucial advice for picking your spot.
- Try to avoid anyone who is fidgety. They will miraculously block your view of the instructor, no matter where you are in the room.
- If someone is wearing fancy black dance sneakers, go to the other side of the room where the pressure to perform will be less.
- If you can find a space that gives you a clear shot of the instructor, but gives you room to hide from the video camera they have rolling for publicity, this would be ideal.
- Anyone wearing a belly-dancing skirt is generally harmless.
- Stay away from the tiny woman wearing the Official Zumba shirt. She will shame you.
4) As far as doing the correct steps goes, don’t worry about it too much. If the instructor suddenly does something that looks like she’s bending the space-time continuum, she probably is. Just shuffle your feet or do a few jumps. No one will notice. WARNING: Arm movements are for advanced students only. Try it too soon, and you will poke yourself or someone else.
5) Instructor/Student Rapport- Managing your relationship with your Zumba instructor is very important, especially if you want to be a favorite. Small talk before class and trying your hardest will help you keep your coveted spot.
- If the instructor gets in your face to yell at you to sing along to the song or raise your hands, do not punch her. This is not very zumba-like behavior. Feigning two-left-feet is an appropriate response. She will leave you alone because she feels sorry for you. You can also play dead.
6) During the class, it is very important that you smile. If you can’t smile because your heart has exploded, at least look like you’re concentrating really hard.
7) Do not pay any attention to the homeless man that has walked in off the street and is attempting to follow the Zumba instructor in her shaking and jumping. (Okay, maybe he deserves a little attention)
8 ) It’s perfectly fine to chat with your co-students. Acceptable topics of conversation include:
- “Wow. Did that last song make you want to kill yourself too?”
- “Do you think she came out of the womb moving her hips like that?”
- “Nope. I don’t have an extra sweat towel.”
- “Don’t worry. We all looked like we were having seizures on that last set.”
- “It’s 11:50. Only ten more minutes.”
9) If you’re worried about looking sexy or cool, you are probably neither.
10) You have to clap for the instructor at the end. Even if you hate her or you’re on your way to the hospital on a stretcher. It’s just what we do.
Follow those ten simple steps, study the comparison chart, and you’ll be ready for a real-live Zumba class. It really is a fun way to work out and it’s a great way to spend time with friends because you look so ridiculous that you can’t help but have fun with it.