With my February goals fresh in my mind, I headed out to the gym this past Friday morning. My wife had gone to work, the kids had gone to school, and I was all alone. So I spent a good chunk of time bouncing between the weight room and the “Nautilus” equipment room at our gym. Not really sure what I was doing, but figuring doing something is better than doing nothing when it comes to exercise.
After 35-45 minutes of straight iron pumping, I remembered that there was a class starting soon in the aerobics room. Let me pause here and tell you how I knew that.
Months ago (more than I care to admit), I decided that a first step I would take toward getting in shape would be to look at our gym’s website, pick one class for each day of the week (M-F) that I could see myself in (without dying) and plugging the details into my Blackberry so that I would be reminded an hour before each class that the class would be starting…and that I should be there. Or at least think about it. You gotta start somewhere, right? And as an added bonus, I packed a gym bag and put it in the trunk of my car, thereby removing yet another excuse why I couldn’t just drive right to the gym from wherever I was at any given moment.
So, back to this past Friday. I had a suspicion that there was a class starting at 9:45 a.m. (it was 9:30 when I suspected this), so I pulled out my Blackberry, flipped to my calendar screen, and saw that sure enough, there was a class that started at 9:45 a.m; just fifteen minutes away. Oh, you want to know what class it was?!? It was “Zumba“.
Now, I had precious little information on Zumba. I only had scant memories of infomercials of undulating hips set to music. I thought to myself, “Well, I have hips. How hard could it be?” As it turns out, “hard” wasn’t the word I should have used. I should have asked myself “How awkward could it be?” For THAT is what it turned out to be.
I sauntered up to a small group of ladies waiting outside the closed door of the aerobics room as they waited for the next class–the Zumba class–to start. Innocently, I asked one woman, “Excuse me, do you know what class is next?” “Zumba”, she replied. I think she probably expected me to turn tail and run after hearing her answer. I’m doubly sure she was perplexed that I stood in the same spot after hearing her answer as I had been before hearing her answer. I know I was.
I continued, “Have you taken it before?” She answered, “I’ve been to it a couple times.” I added, “I’ve never taken a class before. This one will be my first.” She gave me a peculiar look and said, “You mean this is your first class ever, and you’re taking a Zumba class?” What could I say but….”Yep.” Other ladies began to congregate and it wasn’t too long before the aerobics room door opened and like a sheep to the slaughter I got in line and walked in. The only guy. I think I heard one lady whisper to another something to the effect of “My husband would rather die than…”
I found a place in the back row (sadly there was only a front and a back row) and went immediately to informing the 2 ladies on either side of me that this was my first class EVER and that I would do my best to not completely ruin their workout. As if they were competing for the Miss Congeniality prize, they assured me that no one watches anybody but themselves. I thought to myself, “Have they not noticed the 12 foot tall mirror wall at the front of the room? How can you NOT look at others?” Keeping that thought to myself, I thanked them for their welcoming attitudes and assured them I would certainly be the class’s “comic relief.”
After the music started a teeny tiny instructor strode to the front of the room and among other things announced that she had decided that she was going to keep the lights on during today’s session. My first thought: “Well, that’s perfect.” Nowhere to hide.
Within moments, the rhythm of the music took control and my hips just seemed to flow effortlessly in time with the infectious Latin beats. I was pleasantly surprised as I not only moved in sync with the instructor, but even caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was amazing! Just kidding. I was the Tin Man out there. It was hideous. My warnings to my two fellow classmates turned out to be gross understatements.
As the class went on and I moved more unnaturally to this song than I had the previous one, I thought to myself, “Well, at least its only a half-hour class.” Have you ever thought a thought and then thought that you hoped that thought was right? Well, the half-hour mark (10:15 a.m.) came…and went. And there I was still trying to get my hips and feet to do anything that didn’t resemble a dead guy with no rhythm. It was at about that time that I made a conscious decision: “I don’t care anymore what I look like. I don’t care anymore if I’m going in the same direction as the rest of the class. I don’t care anymore if my hands are up when everyone else’s hands are down. I don’t care anymore that I’m absolutely positive that every woman in that room has been given enough material for every cocktail party they’ll go to for the rest of the year, thanks to me. I don’t care anymore if I clapped at the same time as everyone else or just a few awkward seconds later. I just don’t care anymore.”
Something happens when you stop caring what others around you think about you; about what you can do, can’t do, will do, or won’t do. You find freedom. You hear the music. You feel the music. You ARE the music. Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea. And I spent the rest of the class (known as the bonus half-hour) with a much bigger smile on my face.