Zumba Shakes All


There has to be a few grains of masochism in my makeup. Otherwise why would I be here so early in the morning, standing alongside young women, all fit and lean in their leotards and sweats? The wish to be fit and energetic has uprooted me from my comfortable bed and tumbled me into this gym to audition a new Zumba class.

Everybody seems to love Zumba. Wherever we drive I am bound to see a sign that says, “Sign up for Zumba” or, “Zumba offered!” So many of my friends enjoy this fitness phenomenon, and so many of their friends swear by it.  Who am I to buck the popular tide, especially when a fitness regime is what I need?

Our instructor has appeared—lithe, fit and young. I look about me and note that there are a few gray heads in the crowd which reassures me… a little. Then the music blares on and our instructor leaps into action.

And leap she does. The wild rhythms escalate. “Shake it, Guys!” She shouts. “Shake it, shake it!”

I thought that this was what I was doing, but maybe I am not shaking enough. The action called for engages parts of me that I never knew existed, and each of those parts has begun to complain. But… here I am and if I need to shake, shake I will!

The music ends. The woman next to me edges over and whispers, “I know it’s hard for you. Just do what you can and don’t worry.” It occurs to me, as I murmur appropriately appreciative words, that I have said these words to others in my time and that turn about is fair play. When I was young I used to encourage older, struggling ladies on the gym floor, and I wonder now if the words I said to them made me sound vaguely patronizing and superior. I cringe at the thought and realize, humbly, that life changes one’s viewpoint!

That word, kindly meant…

            Did it bring smiles or unease,

            Did it help…. Or hurt?

But now the music has changed and is louder, wilder, faster, and harder to follow. “You sexy lady,” it shrieks, “Bom, de bom, bom, bom!” I would like to inform the singer that I have never felt less sexy in my life, but I have no breath to spare. All around me women are gyrating  and mouthing the words; they’re into it and enjoying the experience, and they all do it so well! Perhaps this is so with everything, really. When we know how to do something, it is so easy for us that we can’t understand—and are often impatient— with someone else who works and suffers and struggles.

Another life lesson! And suddenly my sense of humor asserts itself. The thought of how I must look as I pant and puff and attempt to shake it, is so amusing that I finally relax and go with the flow. Perhaps in time I will improve—if, indeed, I decide to continue with Zumba—but I have grave doubts. Never mind! For the rest of the hour I shake and strut, jump and slide.

Then, mercifully, it’s over. As each of my complaining muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments creak back into position, the instructor runs over. “High five!” she cries, following action to words. “You did great, Lady!”

Hobbling away, I admire her perception. Pride will bring me back, of course, and she knows it.

But first I need a nap!

So ends the lesson…

            Whether for mind or body,

            I am not certain.

“I’d Rather Be There”




About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: maureen@wartski.org/ My blog is here: https://maureenwartski.wordpress.com/ Or friend me on Facebook!

16 responses »

  1. Ah Maureen, I wish I could transport you to the zumba classes I occasionally have taken at our local “Y”. Rosie, the Latina who usually teaches the class is so enthusiastic and complementary that we all feel we are true “zumbatistas”. The ages of the women and 2 men range from teen to senior and we all have our unique styles and rhythm patterns. The music is so loud that some wear ear plugs. There are little sequin, bangled skirtlets that can be borrowed for certain numbers. I think you would be so giggly that the steps would be secondary. It is all great fun and rather good exercise as one of the components of a fitness program. Keep dancing. You will get the hang of it, and the muscles will calm down. Love Fran

  2. Your description is so good – I felt as if I were there – and had to endure it all too…And yes, after something like that it feels as if you had to put your body back into place again.
    Hope you get a good rest in before your next ‘zumbing’ – Hanny

  3. Maureen, I commend you for your efforts! Maybe my knees wouldn’t be so arthritic if I “shook” things a little more often! Thoroughly enjoyed your post and the insights from the most humorous of situations.

  4. Maureen,
    You are sonincredibly talented. I loved the laughs. I know what you mean about the “Zumba.” I love dancing, but my regimine has me returning to the pool for water aerobics. I honestly believe that I’m less like to injure myself.
    Your water color was wonderful–such detail. Who would put such a georgeous quilt in the sand. Did you do a salt treatment for the beach waves? Lovely, lovely.
    Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

    • Thank you, Joy! I have yet to Zumba again… but I will. I’m stubborn and a little demented, I think…
      Yes, I did use salt on the waves… salt is such a wonderful tool! I used to use a whole bunch of it until I took my (own writing) advice and decided less is more. Just now it is cold and rainy. I would so love to lie in warm sand…..

  5. There’s Zumba and Zumba. Some types are nice and latin and full of dance steps. The one I went to was…. wild. Still, it is good cardio-vascular (if I don’t expire first!), right? Thanks always for reading, my friend…

  6. Maureen,

    Loved this one. I do a zumba class in Florida and it is ok because we are all 65+. It is still taxing, but surely not as much as yours. We have little breaks in-between each song so we can get a drink!

    Yes, don’t we all hate war (evidently not some in the world). Poor Israel, they always get blamed. I don’t see a solution as I’m sure Iran is supplying them with all the weapons. I really would hate to see a war started with Iran. Andre always said Bush should have gone into Iran instead of Iraq. He got the last two letters mixed up! I personally don’t agree as I hate to see us go into any country. They say Syria is also behind this as it takes the heat off Assad.

    Wishing you a bountiful and happy Thanksgiving. Let’s hope we will have much to be thankful for!

    Love, Marilyn

  7. Dear Maureen,
    You have a real gift. The gift of making me laugh. I watched a video of people doing Zumba and I can imagine what you talked about. The music was very fast and the gyrations were fast, too. Good luck! Perhaps the next class will be easier. You’ll decide if it’s for you or against you or just not you at all.

    Enjoy being you.
    You’re wonderful.
    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    • Thank you, Joan! I would love a Zumba for super-annuated ladies (like me)… where we could sashay gracefully about and look graceful. Ha! I am dreaming again.
      May your Thanksgiving be a wonderful one!

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