Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good for your Body. Good for a Smile.

I LOVE Zumba.

I've been a group fitness instructor since 1986 (imagine shiny spandex and leg warmers and Reeboks). Over the years, I've taught high- and low- impact aerobics, step, group cycling and muscle conditioning. I enjoyed these fitness formats but I never forgot for one minute that they were workouts. I worked hard, physically and mentally, every single second of every one of these classes. I probably didn't smile much at the time.

Zumba Fitness is different. If you haven't tried it or know what it is about, do a Google search. There are dozens of classes each week in gyms and churches and dance schools in neighborhoods across the globe.  Go and visit a class and watch what happens when the music starts.

Zumba found me after I had "retired" from teaching and was traveling a lot, with regular appearances on QVC and leading project teams based in Massachusetts and Tokyo and Sidney. I had been to a demo at a local gym and thought it was fun, but it was more about the dance moves than getting sweaty. I could workout more efficiently with 30 minutes on the eliptical.  I'd chalked it up to another trendy fitness wave, like TaeBo.

Then I went to a dynamic, sweaty, nutty class in West Chester, Pennsylvania and was hooked for life! (Thank you ACAC) I searched out classes when I got home and was soon getting a bi-weekly fix. Then, driving home from class one night, I thought "You can do this, you know." Crazy. I tried out the idea on my boyfriend and my sisters, thinking that at least one of them would tell me that I already had enough on my plate. They nodded yes. They know me so well. It was very easy to come out of retirement. I got my group fitness certification renewed and took the Basic Zumba training. A few calls to old friends and some good, old fashioned networking got me on the schedule at a couple of gyms.

I did all of this because Zumba makes me SMILE. I grin like a fool for 60 minutes, sweating like a pig. I wear lime green and purple and lots of hot pink and colorful rubber bracelets and glittery silver shoelaces. I am essentially tricking 1-3 dozen people into a highly effective, interval based cardio "workout" each class. I am watching my clients shed pounds and get healthy. At 51, I am in the best shape of my life -- including those years in my 20's wearing spandex and leg warmers. The warm, sweaty smiles that beam back at me at the end of each class are the best gift a girl could ever get.

Here's a fantastic "commercial" for Zumba that was created by a group of instructors as part of a contest. It pretty well captures the spirit of Zumba. I hope to see you in class someday soon.

Love, Lelly

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