For The Zumba Newbie In The Back Row

I always admire people who walk into a group fitness studio for the first time and aren’t afraid to speak to the instructor, whether it’s to say hello or ask a question.

When you asked the instructor what you should do, strategy-wise, if you couldn’t “get” all of the movements during class, she told you it was a great question. Indeed, it was. Trying any new class can be intimidating and worrisome, but Zumba moves quickly and as much as it’s supposed to be about having fun, if you’re worried about it the fun doesn’t come easily.

She answered your question by telling you to focus on either the arm movements or the leg movements to keep your heart rate up. She added, “And don’t worry; nobody is going to be paying attention to you. When everyone looks in the mirror they’re only looking at themselves.”

She was mostly right.

Throughout class, I kept my eye on you but not for the reason you might think.

I was pulling for you.

I saw you struggling. I noticed that most of the time, your face was in full grimace. As much as you tried to just get one set of extremities moving along like everyone else’s, you couldn’t do it. Every now and then I would catch you almost getting on board, but it was always at that moment the choreography changed. I’ve taken classes during which that’s happened to me, and if you’re anything like me you probably wanted to walk out the door out of frustration.

But you didn’t.

You stuck with it and kept trying until the very last note of the very last song. Your perseverance was inspiring to me because frankly, most people would have walked out in the first ten minutes at that level of frustration.

Like anything else, Zumba is (to quote my friend Bonnie, who says the same thing about a different type of workout) “a language that has to be learned”. Once you’ve attended a few classes you’ll forget about the frustration and awkwardness during that first one and you’ll smile as you dance just like the rest of us old-timers.

In the meantime, keep attending class. Don’t give up. And know that you’ve got total strangers in the room who are sending you as much mental encouragement as they can.


  • Colleen

    And even if you’ve taken 100 Zumba classes, you *might* still get a few steps wrong (I won’t even lie and say it’s not me I’m talking about here). I always tell friends who try it for the first time – I probably lost more weight and got a better ab workout because I spent so much time laughing at my own missteps! True story.

  • Bonnie

    I admire the way you think, Melisa, especially considering… I KNOW you didn’t miss a move while taking the time to silently cheerlead a fellow Zumba-ite!! It is all about fun and that first timer had an amazing attitude! Not only did she stay, but she walked in the room!!