I discovered Zumba almost by accident. A former student began teaching it at the college level in Utah. I hadn’t seen her in years, but I saw her posts on social media. I asked her about it, and she told me that her mother, Gayle Wing, was teaching classes in North Little Rock where I live. I contacted her mother and was invited to visit. The classes taught by Gayle were Zumba Gold for senior citizens. I made a visit and enjoyed it because the atmosphere was informal, the moves were effective, but not too daunting, and each person was allowed to participate without being judged.
As soon as I entered the room for my first visit, I could tell that the class was an informal gathering. I knew several of the people in the class, and since I had a connection with Gayle from having taught her children when they were in high school, visiting the class was enjoyable. Gayle introduced me as if I were a celebrity, and several of the other people, with whom I had taught, were very friendly and offered encouraging advice. While I was a little awkward with the moves, I felt comfortable following Gayle’s instructions. The hour seemed to pass quickly, and the conversation before the class started and after it was over made the experience seem friendly and informal.
Before my visit, I was a little apprehensive about being able to catch on to the routines, but the steps turned out to be fairly simple. I watched Gayle, as well as the other class members, and I caught on quickly. Gayle instructed from the front of the class and demonstrated the routines as the class followed. The music was a combination of Latin and African influenced tunes as well as some hip-hop numbers like “Dance Like Nobody’s Watchin’,” and classic pop tunes such as “YMCA.”, The music made the workout easy and very enjoyable. My steps weren’t perfect, but I knew my efforts were beneficial because by the end of the class, when we cooled down to Elvis Presley’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” I had worked up a nice sweat.
I especially appreciated the way there was no judgement from the teacher or from fellow class members. Some of the members had been in Zumba for over five years. When I visited, I was the newest member, and the intervals between the most and least experienced members represented every level. While I could follow most of the steps, I am not a limber person by nature, and I probably looked a little stiff. Others were very agile, and in my humble assessment, some of them performed at the professional dance level. In contrast, some of the members had physical ailments that limited their participation. None of that mattered in Zumba Gold. I admit that I did find a place in the back row, but no one watched or commented as I struggled at times to move correctly to the fast routines. The support from the teacher and the class members made me feel at least adequate as a Zumba participant, and since my performance had not been judged, I had no concerns about continuing in the class.
I have been a Zumba enthusiast now for about five months. Because of the informal manner in which the class is taught, I’ve come to enjoy the friendship of the instructor and the other members of the class. We even met for a party after our last class before Christmas. The routines are hard enough to provide a good workout, but they are “do-able,” and with more experience, I know I can master them.While I still prefer the back row for class, I never worry about how I am performing. I do my best, and that is all that is asked of me. I ascribe to the theory, “Use it or lose it.” I know that exercise is the key to quality of life as I age. I feel enlivened and energized when Zumba class is finished, and I have noticed that the energy carries over to my everyday life. I highly recommend Zumba as an enjoyable way to make friends, stay in shape, and exercise at your own pace.