This post is not about exercise, because we don’t talk about exercise in this house. We talk about enjoyable movement, and rejoicing in the things my body can do. NOT exercise, because that has connotations of rules, calorie-burning, punishment for eating the wrong things or only doing it to earn the right to eat something ‘bad’. (Obviously when I say ‘we’ I mean me. My cats don’t talk.)
Aaaaanyway. Movement. I have been going for a 70 minute walk most mornings, and that has been great. Well, until about three weeks ago when it started being cold and wet in the mornings. I love my morning walk but I DON’T love being outside when it’s 5 degrees and drizzling. That is not ‘enjoyable movement’. It’s miserable and feels like punishment. So what to do, then? I don’t want to avoid movement all winter (which goes for a long time in Melbourne) but I don’t want to walk when the weather is uninviting. I thought about joining some sort of local sporting team, but the fact that I don’t know how to play any sports, combined with dodgy knees, limited depth perception and lousy hand-eye coordination seems to rule out most team sports. I have a treadmill but after walking outside for so long I’m less than enthusiastic about the treadmill these days. I also have a few different workout DVDs but they’re not fun. I have forced myself through them many times and I never, ever got to the stage of (a) feeling like I had the ability to do the exercises and (b) feeling like it was a good thing to do, rather than a penance for being fat. Workout DVDs and I don’t have the best relationship and it’s probably better that we have some time apart.
That eliminates a lot of options, doesn’t it? I was frankly starting to feel a little despairing about the whole thing. But then I remembered reading a post, ages ago, by Hippomanic Jen in which she talked about Zumba. I remembered the post because she used phrases like, “there’s every chance I will entirely stuff it up”. That kind of thing is very encouraging to me. BUT… I didn’t want to go to a Zumba class (even though there is one that is literally walking distance from my home) because classes intimidate me. They doubly intimidate me if it’s something where I’m required to be even the slightest bit coordinated. Because I’m not. Not even close.
Happily, we live in the DVD age. And yes, I know I just said I am avoiding workout DVDs, but a Zumba DVD felt different. Because this is something I wanted to try, and thought might be fun. There really is a difference. So, as it turns out, Target has just brought out this Zumba DVD collection – which means that the ‘old’ one, which seems to contain almost exactly the same things, was drastically reduced in price. Guess which one I bought?
This morning I popped the first disc into the DVD player. I decided to start with the instructional DVD, which goes through each movement slowly, giving you a chance to learn it. Given my unco performance at aerobics classes in the 80s and early 90s, this seemed a wise option.
The instructional disc runs for about 40 minutes. After 25 minutes I was practically in tears. Some of the movements were beyond me even in slo-mo, let alone at normal speed. Why the heck do so many people say Zumba is fun? This isn’t fun – it’s horrible! It made me feel completely rubbish about my ability to do anything. Move my legs AND arms? Wiggle my hips? Quickly shift my balance from one foot to the other without falling over? FORGET IT.
I took a little break (which is code for “I threw the remote control across the room and stormed out”). I googled “uncoordinated at Zumba” so I could read stories from other people. (No joke. I really did that.) Then I decided to ditch the instructions and just get into the first 20 minute workout. And it turns out that I was right – I do completely suck at it – but I was also wrong… it wasn’t horrible. It was fun. It really was. The 20 minutes flew by as I tripped over my own feet and did awkward, shuffling, hoppy, unco movements that were only remotely like what I was seeing on the screen. When I compare that with Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred, which is also a 20 minute workout… ugh. When I did that, it was the longest 20 minutes of my life and I couldn’t even do half of it. I don’t mean I was uncoordinated; I mean I physically could not do many of the things. Horrible.
Edit: I’ve just worked out one of the big differences. In the workout DVDs, people are constantly exhorting me to “push through” and “bring it” and “don’t quit”. In the Zumba DVD, they’re having fun. It genuinely looks like they’re kindly allowing me to participate in the awesome time they’re having at their own little dance party. And not one person told me to “push through”.
So yay, Zumba! I don’t know that I’ll ever get to the point of joining a class (see above point about my technique) but I think I’m going to love the DVDs.
Even if I can’t wiggle my hips.