Dolly offers two opportunities each week at a local athletic club to Zumba and some days I find it incredibly easy to talk myself out of attending the evening session. Other days I know deep within my bones that I must go. I know that if I don’t I will hate myself. I will hate myself for not moving my body, for missing the opportunity to blossom. I know that if I don’t go I will hate myself for not owning the care of my body. If I don’t go I will continue to hate myself for moving away from uncomfortable feelings and trapping myself within a box made of concrete walls; otherwise known as me.
Don’t get me wrong. Zumba is fun and my instructor is a lovely teacher who chooses a delightful variety of tunes to groove too. I always feel wonderfully, marvelously exhausted, sweaty and optimistic at the end of the class. It’s just…
It’s just that while I am there I have an out-of-body experience; or perhaps it is an out-of-mind experience. My body moves but my mind wanders off looking for the seemingly protective walls of the box. It doesn’t like playing outside. It doesn’t like to be seen. It much prefers staying indoors and peeking around the corner to observe. A combination of performance anxiety and the appearance of incompetence washes over me in waves. My eyes are never fixed and constantly move looking down at my feet or up at the ceiling and high walls with quick checks of the instructor’s feet to see if I’m even remotely on the same track. Sometimes I’m so far off track that it would appear I were riding a completely different train!
At the beginning of class I take my place on the floor with a quick glance into the mirrored wall in front of me; her chatter begins.
God you’re fat. Suck that belly in.
My mind ducks for cover. There is none. There I am staring back at me from within the mirror; noting how totally unsexy and ridiculous my body looks and moves. Halfway through the evening’s routine: Salsa. The waves crash over me and almost knock me down. My body stiffens even more. My motions robotic. My eyes shifting left, right, up and down. In any given situation I am most uncomfortable with what to do with my arms and during Zumba I find it difficult to manage the upper body movements when I’m so focused on my lower body. Instead, I fidget; rubbing the outside of my nose, scratching my ears, running my hands through my hair, wiping drips of sweat from my upper lip with the sleeve of my shirt. If I have any rhythm I can’t find it.
Shimmy? Shake? You mean here? Now? In front of you? In front of these other people? Oh, I can’t do that.My non-existent self-esteem, negative body image and doubt that I’ll ever master the parts of the routine that I am so not getting argue with the voice that assures me, encourages me and high-fives me for showing up to the floor.
Give it up.Take your time. Just do what you can. Later you can buy a DVD and practice at home.
You totally suck at this.Mistaeks are mandatory. Make lots of ‘em!
That may be fine for everyone else, but not me.I’m so proud of you for trying something new. Hang in there. You’ll get it.
While I have not accepted every Zumba opportunity given to me, I am committed to continue this journey. In spite of the mental banter that appears to torture me at times during my weekly adventure in Zumba, when the cool down has begun and I'm stretching my body, inhaling, breathing and ahhhing I feel fabulous, revived, energized and ready to face another day in the life. I thank Dolly and happily bounce to my car looking forward to my next opportunity. I know I will get better at this thing called Zumba. I know that eventually I won’t care if anyone sees me shake, rattle and roll. I know that in time my body will change shape; I’ll feel healthier, more confident and more comfortable in my own skin.
When that time comes, I won’t waste any time exclaiming with complete confidence, “I have arrived!”as I take my place on the floor.