8/08/2014

Zumba: Not Just Cardio

Last night, I had to say goodbye to the awesome Zumba teacher at my gym. He's leaving on an extended vacation, so I won't see him until I come back home to visit during a school break. This farewell forced me to realize that I leave for college in a week. One. Week. That is terrifying! When I got home, I started to think about how I got into his class. It's funny to think he told me "Never stop dancing, hija! You always have a smile on your face when you do!" given that in my life I've sort of been the awkward turtle when it comes to dancing - I'm there, but a bit slow.

Accidental outfit matching!

When I was little, I loved dancing. I begged and begged for my parents to allow me take ballet and tap dance classes, claiming I could potentially be some sort of dance prodigy (how ironic, right?). I was adorable in the costume (smallest girl in the class, I looked like a little doll!) and I loved the classes, but I really wasn't a very good dancer. After I started kindergarten, I stopped the dance lessons, but always played "Ballet School" with my best friends at recess. Time passed and I missed dancing, but I always thought I was too awkward to be helped or that I just looked to weird.


At the end of my freshman year, I auditioned for the different choirs at my school and made Concert Choir. This was perfect for me because not only did I see during auditions that I had become a more awkward dancer than I thought, but I didn't know much about reading music and singing properly. Big, chamber-style choirs are one of the best places to begin a music education. 

When audition time came around, I moved up a tier into Rhapsody, a smaller, all-female, mostly a Capella group. If my surprisingly less awkward audition was anything to go by, my dancing had improved the slightest bit. I hadn't tripped over myself, and I remembered all of the moves with the words. 

My wonderful friend and fellow Mezzo Soprano in Rhapsody.

My ultimate goal, however, was to make it into Mystic Rhythm, the show choir, for my senior year. So, in between my classes, clubs, events, and homework, I started to make more of an effort to not only go to the gym to work out to be healthier, but to try out the new Zumba class I'd heard people raving about. My first class was awful because I happened to come on a peak day at the gym, and the room felt so small and claustrophobic. But I stuck with it. I had trouble at first with all of the moves and different patterns packed into the songs, but being in choir had helped me learn how to count rhythms, which most dancers will tell you is your lifeline. 

Eventually, I got better. I learned how to throw all those little worries away and just have fun. The instructor's energy was just amazing, and he made you smile even though you were aching and dripping in sweat. He made me realize that my biggest problem, the reason I was so awkward, was because I was overthinking everything instead is of relaxing and feeling the music. Now, I realize that is one of the very reasons I loved being in Mystic Rhythm so much this year - even when your heels hurt, your lungs are burning, and your arms feel like jelly, you smile because you are doing something you love.

Gotta love "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"!
Whether I'm still a slightly awkward dancer is definitely up for debate (choreography versus spontaneous dance party!), but the fact that Zumba helped me definitely is not. Zumba has been a fitness idea spreading across the nation for quite some time now, but there are still plenty of people who have never tried it. Every once in a while, I'll invite my girl friend who hates dancing and we'll do the class because doing it together just adds to the fun.

xx
Catch you next time.

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