|Zumba Jam with Eric Aglia|
My story is below, but before you read, I can't stress enough that everyone should have something that brings them joy in their lives. For me, it's the sweaty combination of dance, pretending like I can sing in Spanish, and generally actin' a fool that is a typical Zumba class. The question is: what is it for you?
I started taking Zumba classes in 2009, shortly after moving to Monterey. I knew very little about it beforehand, but I'd been taking group exercise classes for a few years, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It turns out that I had the best instructor ever. It wasn't just a great cardio workout or some fun hip shaking; it was joy. Everyone smiled and laughed as we gyrated, stomped, and single-single-doubled to our own beat (unintentionally). It was okay to make mistakes or look goofy. In fact, it wasn't just okay; it was encouraged.
Maybe everyone has that experience when they take a Zumba class with a good instructor, but what made it special for me was how much I needed some joy in my life at that time. My marriage was ending, although I didn't know it at the time. Aside from losing that person from my life, I was losing myself. Everything was going very wrong. I thought I was a failure, a terrible person, not worthy of love and kindness. Weird as it might sound, I thought I wasn't much of a woman.
In my Zumba class, though, for those two hours each week, I felt like a real person again. When everything was a mess and I was emotionally exhausted, I had this time when I could smile and succeed at something. When I was unbearably lonely, I had this place where I was part of a community who understood this important point: We're not perfect, but we deserve joy. The worst part of my week was 5:30 on Wednesdays when I knew it would be five full days before I'd feel that way again.
I became an instructor because I wanted to help others find joy in their lives too. Since I started teaching, I've met countless people who have incredible stories about what Zumba has done for them. We all know what it's like to feel wrong inside. We've been there.
I even met my boyfriend in Zumba. He has his story and now we have ours together.
People who've never tried Zumba sometimes ask me if I've lost weight with Zumba. Does Zumba work?
What if I could weigh the emotional burden I had been carrying around? What if I could measure how I see myself when I look in the mirror? Does Zumba work? Absolutely.