She proceeded to demonstrate an alarming series of hip rolls and pelvic thrusts that had me clutching my side and howling with laughter. It’s not that her motions were particularly funny or uncoordinated. (Ok, so maybe they were a little funny...) It was just strange to see a 62 year old woman, in pearls and a suit no less, bumping and grinding at 7:30am on a Tuesday morning.
She then asked me to join her for the next class.
I’d never heard of Zumba before, but the name and the moves she was showing off seemed a bit African in origin to me. I got a picture in my head of standing next to my grey headed boss in a room full of mirrors, swinging my arms and hips in an attempt to lure some unsuspecting male with my body’s siren song. “Come to me. We make baby.” *hip roll, pelvic thrust, saucy wink with come hither fingers* I might have even pictured a headdress and a necklace top – you know, the kind that drapes down over the chest and is meant to sort of cover the boobs, but doesn’t?
Of course I said no. I have my own mating dance already and it involves several Jack and Cokes, a girlfriend to make out with, and a simple “your place or mine”. Why waste all the good moves during the pre-game when they’d be more appreciated in flagrante. “I learned this in my exercise class!” *hip roll, pelvic thrust, battle cry, Annnnnd BIG finish with windmill arms!*
For the rest of the week I heard about how awesome Zumba class was and how much fun the boss and a few coworkers were having. By Friday I’d been brainwashed and found myself agreeing to go to Monday’s class and check it out. “Self”, I said, “You like to dance and could definitely stand to lose a few pounds. Why not?” I also may or may not have seen an infomercial on TV showing the guy who invented Zumba and his plethora of hard bodied followers doing moves that made my nipples hard. Beto Perez: He’s the Chuck Norris of exercise dancing.
After a considerably lovely weekend, I returned to work on Monday with a bag of gym clothes and a growing seed of doubt. What if the old ladies moved better than I did? What if I were to sweat through my clothes? Sweat is so gross! What if some good looking man happened to pass by and look in, be overcome with lust, throw me over his shoulder and lock me up until I gave birth to 7 children? Then Self set me straight. “You should really hope for that last one. At least then you’d be getting laid.”
Self is such a bitch sometimes.
At 5pm, water bottles firmly in hand, boss and I walked the two blocks to the Y. It’s a lovely old building, six stories, with a red awning and a set of stairs leading up to the big, scarred double doors. I love old buildings, so while boss was at the front desk finalizing her membership paperwork, I was taking it all in. The lobby had worn carpet and glass doors. A curling, carpeted stairwell led up and across from it was a tiny old elevator. Its unobtrusive position was like an unwritten sign: This is for people that truly need it. Not for your fat lazy ass. Take the stairs bitch.
I signed the visitor’s sheet and followed boss, who stopped right in front of the elevator. “I’m not walking up six flights of stairs today”, she said, pressing the button. I looked guiltily around before nodding. If anyone gave me a “look”, I’d say that my “grandmother” had to use the elevator and I couldn’t, in good conscience, let her go alone.
Our room on the 6th floor was long, carpeted, and punctuated every few feet with columns. The walls were mirrored on every side, with only an occasional bare space in between for windows. I looked out over the city and thought that it was worth coming, just for the building and the view alone.
I was introduced to the other ladies from work, all of them over 40. They seemed nice enough and knowing that they’d been to the class several times before and weren’t dead yet put me more at ease. I mean, if I couldn’t do at 24 what these women could do at their age, there was a serious problem. “Self, you got this shit.”
As a few more people came in, conversation turned to our instructor, who was at that minute working on her steps in front of a mirror by the sound system cabinet. She was a small, pretty blonde girl dressed in black spandex pants and tank top. While Latin music pulsed through the speakers, I watched her do a series of moves that left me feeling a combination of excitement and disappointment. I loved to dance and the moves looked fun, but there was no way in hell I’d ever look like that while doing them. I looked down at my loose, cotton navy Capri pants and bright orange t-shirt proclaiming I was a supporter of a local pediatric group and sighed. I hadn’t needed workout clothes in years. My last gym membership expired while I was eating enough teriyaki wings for two and learning that “birth” is just another word for “you will no longer feel like doing anything – P.S. your vagina may need stitches”.
She called for us to spread out for a warm up. (How come I never realized how awesome physical fitness innuendo is until now?) There were about 8 older women aged 40 – 60, myself, and three girls that looked to also be in their early 20’s. Two of them positioned themselves directly behind the instructor and commenced giggling. I didn’t like the look of them so I took a spot on the back right side of the room. I was not going to be distracted or upstaged.
Then we began.
The music was mostly fast and in Spanish, with a few new hits I recognized from the radio. I heel, toe, stepped and gyrated through the warm up without a problem. It wasn’t until the first “routine” that I started to realize, “this shit is going to hurt”.
– Jump up and wave your hands in the air! Spread your legs apart, pump your arms in front of you, and shake that ass like a rap video groupie on cocaine! Salsa backwards, forwards, side to side! Cha cha! Belly dance, Shakira style, round and round, left to right! Step step to the left and jump jump, step step to the right and jump jump! Run, run, and run, in place! Cumbia, (Which, as it turns out, has roots in Africa. HA!) Cumbia! And repeat! New dance! Keep going! –
Even in the intervals between routines we were to dance in place or walk around in circles while we drank from our water bottles. “Keep that heart rate up, ladies!” After the first 10 minutes I was sweating like a whore in church, panting and dying on the inside. I contemplated just walking in place during the hard parts, but none of the old ladies did. They kept going and by gawd, if they were going to keep going, I couldn’t be a 24 year old pussy. So I pushed through, vowing that once I was done I would limp out of there and never come back.
But there came a point, about 25 to 30 minutes in, that I adjusted. I caught my breath and moving became easier. I started to enjoy myself and get into it. Though, not nearly as much as the two giggling girls in front, who stared in appreciation at themselves in the mirrors and tried to outdo the instructor. I know she made a few parts harder just for them. Occasionally she would smile in a most malicious way and I wondered if our thoughts might be similar. “Bitch please, you call that a pelvic thrust? Are you having a vaginal seizure of the non-orgasmic variety? You’re gonna throw your back out and I’mma laugh like hell. We’ve got a candidate for hip replacement over here!”
By the time we were cooling down I felt good. I was loose, relaxed, and entirely too pleased with myself for doing the moves better than the over 50 crowd. As I stretched I watched the others. They were just as sweat soaked and completely oblivious. No one cared what anyone else looked like and if they’d been paying attention to how others moved, they’d done it behind an expression of veiled disinterest, just like me.
Walking with boss in companionable silence down the six flights of stairs, I changed my mind. I decided that I would join the Y and continue coming to classes. I would wear cuter exercise clothes, more deodorant, and even, horror of horrors, do “The Pony” without complaint. Yes, that’s right. One of the moves in a routine was “The Pony”. Something I hadn’t done since I was a fat kid watching Richard Simmons videos in the living room with
When I got home I was tired, but not too sore. I did the mundane chores that needed to be done, threatened my disobedient child with “The Pony” (which was surprisingly ineffective), and finally took a long hot shower.
Yesterday morning I was fine – no aching muscles or stiff limbs. (That’s what she said.) I went on to class without the boss, who had a prior engagement, and filled out the membership paperwork, took my picture and accepted my keychain. I felt surprisingly little dread at the thought of more exercise. It’s never been a priority or something I enjoy much of, but then again, I used to hate granola bars. Now I can’t get enough of those bitches.
But last night when I got home and got out of the car, my calves hurt so badly I could barely stand up. There’s a short set of brick stairs that go down from our driveway to the patio and front door, but when I went to take the first one, my knees nearly buckled. I ended up having to take one step at a time, slowly and turned sideways. Like an old lady. And when I got to work this morning, they were still a bit tight and sore (they just keep coming...).
Sigh. At least I don’t have to go back until tomorrow night. Besides, it is kind of fun. And I’m committed now – I’ve signed the form and everything. An anti-exercise woman has been reborn into a Zumba fanatic.
I guess it just goes to show – Richard Simmons might have a vagina, but the pony is still going strong. Wait, no. I mean – Exercise is a bitch, but staying away from home (and my mother) for an extra two hours is awesome. No, no. Uhhh – If I can’t have sex, I can at least simulate it three days a week, fully clothed in a room full of strangers to make myself feel better. FUCK!
Ok, I got it!
Exercise makes you feel good. But exercising with a bunch of old people makes you feel even better. “And Pony! And Pony! And Pony! OOWA OOWA!”