The Magic of ZUMBA

Like most of American society, I resolved to lose weight beginning January 1, 2012.  I’ve been eating healthy, drinking water, and working out daily.  My gym membership’s actually become worth the monthly fee due to the amount I’ve been going (for once!).  I usually stick to the treadmill and crossramp machines, but since I’ve had a “new year, new you” mentality, I decided to mix things up a few weeks ago and try Zumba at the gym.

Now, I’m not completely new to Zumba.  I used to go to a hole-in-the-wall gym in a small town back east where they offered “Zumba classes.”  I put that in quotes due to the ridiculously obvious difference between the two classes! At my old gym, Zumba was a low-impact, step-touch slow jam that left me feeling upbeat but by no means sore.  Silly me to think that a Los Angeles chain gym would offer the same level of ease…

Let me tell you: It was HARD.

60 minutes of non-stop, high-impact dancing with complicated Latin steps that my Irish-American hips were not prepared for!

But here’s where some self-discovery came into play.  First of all, I had a ton of fun! It’s hard not to smile (when you’re not concentrating on breathing so you don’t pass out..) when you’re shimmying like crazy to incredibly upbeat music. But the part that I learned about myself and that I’m proud of is that I can love to do something and be terrible at it!

So, let’s break this down into two parts. First, the pride. I’ve learned myself and seen in others that being proud of yourself is par for the course when you’re trying new things.  It’s easy to live in our comfort zone boxes, but the world outside them is so much more rewarding!  So be proud when you switch things up…and allow yourself to feel proud and pat yourself on the back. What a concept! Saying “good job” to yourself instead of every other person in your life!

Second, the idea of enjoying something without being a master at it.  I think it’s a very common idea in our society that everything we do, whether it be our career or our laundry, has to improve over time in order to be worthwhile.  That’s a lot of pressure because we do a lot of things throughout our lives!  So, what if we were all to just enjoy DOING things instead of aiming for “better” in all areas of our lives?  I’m not a professional dancer, have no intention of being a fitness instructor, and will most likely never be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars.”  So, why should I work to be a master of Zumba?  I do it to burn calories and have fun.  Are those things achieved every time I zumba (is that a verb?) no matter how many steps I can pull off? Yes. And that makes me happy.

To wrap up: Through trying Zumba, I learned that attempting a new activity, no matter how trivial, can result in pride and a feeling of accomplishment.  I also learned that it’s possible to enjoy an activity without striving for mastery of it.

So, the next time you engage in a new or even familiar activity, ask yourself what you want to get out of it.  Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself that may be hindering fun from the experience?

Please comment and let me know if you have experienced anything similar. Or different. 🙂

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