Day 5 - The 'Mo in the Front Row

ZUMBA - University of Miami Wellness Center

So I’ve gained 4 pounds. Let’s just start with that. Since starting this women’s fitness regiment I’ve reached the heaviest I can remember myself being since I stopped lifting and taking creatine. So, yeah, maybe there’s something there, why women always feel like they can’t lose enough. Maybe it’s because these classes just aren’t designed for it.

Or they’re not eating 3 media dinners in 4 nights. One of those.

Irregarless, today I went to campus to take a Zumba class. I figured, I wouldn’t sweat much because, well, it’s called Zumba and there’s no way something with a name that silly is getting your pulse much over 85. Also, it’s popular with old people, who don’t sweat. So I put on my USMC muscle shirt, because if I was going to be doing a workout that is often the punchline to jokes about soft workouts, I was going to at least LOOK like a tough guy, goddamit!

After making the horrific mistake of weighing myself outside the locker room at the UM wellness center, I met up with my friend Melissa, who’s a senior at UM and the only person I know who regularly does Zumba.

“The first time is really frustrating,” she said as we walked upstairs to the exercise room where I used to box. “But once you get the steps down, it’s fun. It’s not like a hard workout, though, it’s just, like, people dancing.”

We got inside and there were about a dozen girls inside and, to my relief, one other guy.

“He’s really good,” Melissa said. “Like sometimes the instructor lets him lead the class.’

We watched as he practiced some steps with a couple of the girls in the room.

“He’s also gay,” she added. Like there had been some kind of question.

Another friend of mine who’d done Zumba assured me my instructor would be “An inspiring weight loss story,  or a barking Asian lady. Or maybe a mail order bride. But definitely one of those.” So as I waited for my formerly obese Filipino loudmouth to walk in, I was surprised when in pranced a bald headed Brazilian guy, who looked like he’d just stepped off set as an extra in “Only the Strong.”

He also did not fuck around. He began leading us in some complicated dance moves that I vaguely recognized from my time doing musicals in high school. Fortunately I stationed myself behind the homo in the front row, and pretty much followed his lead the whole class. After a couple of songs, not only was my pulse well over 85, I was sweating, A lot. Like so much I had to go over to the side and wipe sweat off after every song so I didn’t completely gross out the 30-or-so college girls standing around me. Who I’m sure were all laughing. And who I’m also sure will all end up in my class next semester and be like “Hey, aren’t you that guy I saw at Zumba?!”

After about 20 minutes worth of songs that I got through by harkening back to numbers from Guys and Dolls and Crazy for You, mouthing “1, 2, 3, step, ball change, shimmy and back, 5, 6, 7, 8” I was actually starting to get into it. It was kinda fun to just throw up jazz hands and dance like a complete homo because, hey, it’s fucking Zumba class. Once you’re there, the questionably-gay ship has definitely sailed.

Then our instructor, who pretty much only communicated through whistles and exaggerated dance steps said “Now it is time for Salsa!” And this was about the point in the class where I stopped being able to keep up, Because I have about as much Latin spice as a Cheerio.

So yeah, I looked exactly like you’d think a white guy with zero desire to salsa dance would look fumbling through about 4 songs, including a salsa version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” Also, the more tired I got, the less able I was to follow the complicated moves. And kind of like when you go line dancing, everybody there knows the moves already. So I was pretty lost. Also, my pulse went down to a light jog.

We finished up learning a new routine, which I got pretty fast, and may have even done better than the ‘mo in the front row. So maybe after a few classes I can sashay like him, who knows. Then came time to stretch, and the instructor put on, I shit you not, Bryan Adams singing “Everything I Do,”….IN FUCKING SPANISH. Yeah, Zumba definitely wins the cooldown music award for this week.

I will tell you though, despite the funny sounding name, Zumba is no joke. You move almost the whole time, and if you don’t half ass it, it gets your heart rate going. It’s not super-strenuous, it’s not going to wear you out, and it’s not going to justify going back for thirds at Chartwells immediately after. But if you’re not big into crazy exercise and wants something that gets you going, I highly recommend it. Because what it definitely is, is FUN.

ON the way back to the locker room I weighed myself again. Lost 2 pounds during class. So, obviously, I’m going to stuff my face at CRUST now as a reward.

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