The Jekyl and Hyde of Zumba

I went to Zumba last night, for the second time in at least 3 years. The first time was a bit of a disaster, but the second time?

It was wonderful. We had a lovely, low key teacher who couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the teacher from the first time. She shook everyone’s hand and introduced herself, picked music from all over the world, and created patterns that even I could follow. And the best part? She didn’t seem to have multiple joints in her hips and spine like her sinuous colleague from the aforementioned first time. She never once said “and your booty will pop out like this!” Multiple points for not talking about my, or anyone else’s, booty.

Her workout was moderate, not very strenuous, full of gentle stretching and graceful poses. There was some kickboxing, a little persian wrist swirling, even something that might have been Irish jig in there.

I felt strong, beautiful, lithe, and coordinated as I worked out. I enjoyed the feeling of my muscles stretching, imagined my long. lean limbs clad in fashionable black yoga pants, and reflected that I must have that healthy, ahem, glisten, that women of the world have as we exercise.

Total workout zen, right?

Wrong. This was one half of my experience.

The other was a nightmare, brought on by one simple fact of most exercise classes everywhere. I could see myself working out.

So yeah, all that stuff about strong, lithe, fashionable, glistening? Total crap. I could see my dorky bright green t-shirt – I [clover] Shenanigans, it was St. Paddy’s Day, after all – and how it made me look more boxy and shapeless that I actually am, which is saying something . I could see the bulge around my middle, my flabby winter white arms, my decidedly un-hip white sneakers at the bottom of my dog-hair decorated yoga pant legs.

While the instructor waved her tan arms about like a belly dancer, I watched as my chubby hands twisted as I if trying to represent a tree branch. That move where you shake your boobs with your arms held out – yeah, I don’t want to see me do that, either. Even during jumping jacks, I could see my short hair flopping about in a manner very unlike the artfully fluffy ponytails of my fellow zumba-ers. And worst of all? Everyone else could see me too, because of the damn mirror.

Here’s the thing. I enjoyed the workout, I really did, and at the same time, hated every minute of it. This is not how exercise should be. So this is my call to the universe.

Take down the damn mirrors.

Confidence is supposed to be sexy, so let me leave a workout with 100% of the first feeling, the one where I could feel good about what I was doing. Free the self-conscious among us, because trust me, there are more of us than there are of the perfectly coiffed and coordinated types. We’re the ones who really need to be working out, anyway, so help us out.

Let us just dance, and try to quit worrying what we look like. We do that more than enough in the rest of our lives. Or if all you people who like to see yourselves in the mirror object, take down half, and let me hang out on that side. 🙂

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