A candid review of three Zumbas

Last fall, a couple of gals I know said they were going to try Zumba classes and asked if I’d like to join them. I didn’t ask where, but googled it and found a dance studio downtown that offered evening classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Perfect for my schedule, since I have martial arts Tuesday and Thursday. Buy a punch card, get a few classes free. I think it worked out to about $7.50 a class.

Schedules being what they are, I wound up going to my first Zumba class by myself, which was just as well, because I didn’t feel self-conscious, like my friends were going to think I looked silly. I sort of thought it was the only Zumba game in town, because, without discussing the “where,” my friends would up at the same place about a week later.

Zumba is basically a Latin dance fitness class. The Internet boasts that you can burn 500-1000 calories in one class. Not being in the best shape cardiovascularly, I worried I wouldn’t be able to get through a whole class.

I needn’t have. There’s no chance I burned even 500 calories in that class. It was very low impact. The instructor announced that you can always make the moves harder if you feel like you aren’t getting enough of a workout. I got tired during a few numbers and I did sweat, but it wasn’t that challenging. And therefore, not that fun.

The music seemed to be specially composed for Zumba. There was a version of La Vida Loca, and eventually, some popular songs like Right Round wound up in the playlist.

I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it the way I loved “Get Up and Groove” and “Cardio Funk” classes in Los Angeles. The good news is that I found it easy to follow. The bad news is, I didn’t think I looked very good doing it. The first several classes, I didn’t stand in front of a mirror, but once I did, I realized that the stiffness of my shoulders inhibits my dancing ability.

The main instructor was a woman who, forgive me, didn’t seem like the greatest dancer herself. She’s accredited and teaches actual ballroom stuff, so I’m not saying she’s a bad dancer. I’m saying that I wasn’t motivated by how hot she looked doing Zumba.

Not the way Jennifer of Crunch LA’s “Get Up and Groove” made me feel.

The male assistant instructor was more fun to watch, but not inspiring.

In my effort to find morning exercise classes to get up and groove for, I’ve been to two other Zumba classes this week. My favorite is the one I mentioned in my last post, at a health club not far from the dance studio where I took the first class. I have to join this gym just for the Zumba class. The instructor is cuter. Her name is Isis. She wore these awesome pink sneakers with heels, which I have since learned are dance sneakers, and must find out where to buy them.

The class was very crowded, had a few men in it, and an ethnic diversity disproportionate to that of the actual city. I was in a weird place with petite Asian and Latina ladies in front of me, and overweight, very tall women behind me. I looked very long compared to those in front and lean compared to those in back.

The moves were dancier, faster, Latiner. I actually had trouble getting through the whole hour, mostly step-tapping during the last few numbers. I’ve noticed it’s harder to process new dance moves and follow along after the 1/2 hour mark. Like my brain is full. Add that to physical exhaustion, and it was rough in the most wonderful way.

There were more popular songs in the playlist (Boom Boom Pow is the only one I can remember right now), although one of the tunes was the same as one played in my first Zumba class. Just comparing the routines to that song, Fuego, between the two classes…there would be no way to ramp up the moves offered in the first class to equal the intensity of the second. The “wind-down” song toward the end of Isis’ class was as intense as the first class got.

Then there’s the Wednesday morning class at the gym near my office. Very, very popular. Very crowded. They keep the lights low and have a colored light like it’s a dance party. This is a community with a higher percentage of Latinos, and interestingly, the music at this class had a more “authentic” Latin feel. Less poppy. I actually prefer the pop tunes (I totally dig it when they play Pokerface in step class), but I can appreciate authenticity when I hear it.

The intensity and complexity matched that of my Saturday class, although it may have been less “dancey.”

I still have a few more sessions left at the first place, but I have a new regular Wednesday and Saturday workout for a while.

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