By Jordan Puyear | firstname.lastname@example.org
There I was, in a large open room with my best friend on my right, a group of young girls to my left, and the instructor in front of me. My heart started racing and my face was already sweating, even though I hadn’t started the class yet. The music came on, seemingly on the highest level, and that was when my first Zumba class began.
I can honestly say, without any hesitation, I hate exercising. I…hate…it. However, I don’t consider myself an unhealthy person. In fact, I try to eat as clean as possible just to avoid exercising. In my sophomore year of college, my best friend/roommate tried anything to get me to exercise with her. We would go to the pool, exercise room, even take brisk walks, and nothing stuck. It was the day she dragged me to a Zumba class that my thoughts about exercise changed forever.
I cannot express how absolutely amazing that first class was. The first thing you do is a warm-up routine, which leads into the next 45 minutes of high-intensity dance routines to several songs. All of the songs are upbeat, high energy and lively, making the class that much more enjoyable. After the cardio portion, you take part in what our instructor calls, “booty call.” This portion is specifically for working the lower half of your body and focusing on, you guessed it, your butt. After booty call, you do some floor work, which includes “plank challenge,” specifically aimed at core exercises. Finally, we do a cool down routine, which just includes stretching and calming our body after such a high-intensity workout.
I am now a full-time attendee of Flagler’s Zumba course, and one of the main reasons is because of the instructor, Alex Ritter. Ritter described Zumba to any newcomers and why you should get involved.
“I would define Zumba as an exciting high energy dance class,” Ritter said. “I think that many people have misconceptions about the class, they think they have to know how to dance or know the moves. That is not true. Some of the class is learning new moves, but it is mostly about having fun and burning calories.”
There are so many presumptions about attending a Zumba class. You wonder, and I know I did, if you’ll look like an idiot, never remember the routines, or if it will even be an effective workout? However, when you find yourself continuously smiling through the workout, all of your fears seem to melt away.
“I would want a new person in my class to learn that Zumba is fun,” Ritter said. “I know that it can be intimidating … I always say that the more you come the easier it gets because you pick up new routines and moves all the time. I would want them to leave my class and want to come back to have more fun.”
I found that everybody feels the same way you do. Not everybody knows the routines, not everybody is a good dancer, and not everybody has a perfect body going into these classes.
“You don’t have to be a great dancer to come and have fun,” Ritter said. “It really is not a judgmental place, we are very welcoming and I always love to see new faces in my class. The other thing people need to know is that the students that come to my class almost every day started out just like them, not knowing the routines and not being too sure … but they continued to come and they are now dancing the routines better than me some days.”
Most instructors would resort to yelling or pressuring students if they are most lackadaisical than others, however, Ritter finds that doing the exact opposite guarantees better results.
“I think that I can look at everyone in that room and relate to them,” she said. “I know that everyone is trying their hardest and pushing themselves. I will go do it right next to them so they can see me struggle with it too, we are all working on ourselves constantly.”
Zumba does give you a new outlook on working out because it not only gets you moving, but it boosts your confidence. Before you are quick to judge the twerk-filled dance party, remember that you will leave the room feeling like a winner on Dancing with the Stars.