How to Zumba

Yesterday, my friend @whoremongers, whom I like to call Michiel, asked if I would like to join her for Zumba class. To understand what I am getting into, I look it up on the gym’s website. The description mentions Latin dance rhythms with easy dance moves. It doesn’t sound completely terrifying. There is a video of Zumba which I examine carefully to make sure no one has jazz hands. I refuse to participate in any activity that requires jazz hands.  It seems to be jazz-hands-free.

See… no jazz hands. Just a girl in a bandanna.

“Okay,” I tell her, “I’m in.”

“Great,” she says, “Bring a towel and a bottle of water. Or… a bottle of whatever you are drinking.”

I order to make this work, I have to go home, change, grab a towel and a bottle of water, pick up my kid from summer camp, and be at the gym before 5:30. I will need a few extra minutes to sign my kid up for Kid’s Club. I arrive at the summer camp a little after 5:00. If I can grab my kid and get out of there immediately, I will just make it. The people at the summer camp seem to have a different concept of time than I do. They are talking to me. They tell me about tomorrow’s upcoming field trip in detail and what time I will need drop off my son in the morning. THEN they tell me to be sure to WASH the camp shirt my kid is wearing TONIGHT so he can put it on again for the field trip.

I look at them like they are insane. Wash… Tonight. Yeah… that is going to happen. If by “wash” you mean spray it with Fabreeze.  I would usually throw money at the problem and just buy a bunch of shirts, but I don’t have time right now to even do that. I can’t wait here while everyone scurries around for shirts. I have ZUMBA CLASS, people!

Once my kid is in the car and informed of our destination, his response is predictable. “I don’t want to go to Kid’s Club,” he says glumly. He wants to go home and play video games, a hermit at the ripe old age of eight.

“It’s a club…for kids,” I tell him, “What’s not to like?” In the midst of this conversation, I have just passed the necessary exit. The funny thing about locations is that you have to drive very specifically to get to one. You can’t just fly past the required exit and expect to arrive in a timely matter. I don’t even notice that my preferred exit lies in the distant past for another ten miles. When I finally look around and wonder where the hell I am going, I’m pissed. Sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy. I get off the highway and immediately get caught by a light.

My phone vibrates. Stuck at the light, I glance down and see a text from Michiel, “Where are you woman?” I respond with two quick texts, “Late” and “Traffic.” Yes, I am late because of the traffic…. the type of traffic you encounter when you drive 10 miles past your destination for no apparent reason whatsoever. She tells me not to worry about coming into the class late, and that she will be “in the back.”

I arrive at the gym at 5:35. Zumba class is in full swing by now; however, the situation can still be resolved. I don’t remember this place having a daycare, but when I walk up to the front desk with my kid, the girl looks at my son with a smile. This makes me think they must have a daycare somewhere, otherwise she would be looking at me like I have a third head and saying, “What is HE doing here?”

“I would like to register my son for the Kid’s Club,” I tell her.

“Great,” says the girl, “that will be four dollars.”

“FOUR dollars?” I say… inside my head, of course, “You are going to keep my kid for me for FOUR dollars?” My mind is reeling. I can’t help but glance outside the glass doors and notice a rather seedy looking bar located conveniently across the strip mall. Guessing the person at the counter would probably object if I toss down four dollars and leave immediately to grab a beer, I take my son by the hand and proceed to the Kid’s Club for the paperwork.  With great haste, I fill out emergency contact information, a description of my child’s eyes and hair, and my mobile phone number as the Zumba minutes click by.

Now that the childcare situation is under control, it is time for the long awaited Zumba. I look in the window. The room is completely crowded with women. Very bouncy women fill every space in the room. The worst part is that Michiel is somewhere in this room with these women, bouncing, and I will never be able to find her. Undaunted, I enter the room and cope with the situation one aspect at a time.

My first goal is to find a place to bounce.  All the women are moving about unpredictably and waving their arms. I move cautiously through them, trying to avoid getting hit in the head. Now that I am facing an almost certain concussion, I regret filling out my kid’s daycare form so hastily. I’m not sure if the emergency contact information is even legible. I shouldn’t be here risking getting knocked in the head a Zumba class and leaving him abandoned at a 24 Hour Fitness. I’m a terrible parent. I should be sitting safely with a drink at that bar.

I finally find a narrow area of place in which to stand, set my bottle of water off to the side, and begin trying to figure out what everyone is doing. They are bouncing around. I start to bounce a little. I feel ridiculous. They are waving their arms now. I try waving my arms. I don’t like it. Then, the music changes slightly and the unthinkable happens. Everyone in the room starts doing something horrifying… something usually reserved for weddings and cruise ships… they start doing… the Macarena.

Something you may not know about me is that I blatantly refuse to do the Macarena. Once I was forced to do this dance by a group of old women shoving me out on the dance floor at a wedding reception saying, “All you young’uns have fun.” I have been traumatized by it ever since. I grab my water and flee. I’m pretty sure 30 seconds has to be an all-time record for shortest Zumba session. I should call Guinness.

I spend the rest of my time at the gym on the elliptical being grateful that this machine does not expect me to wave my arms.

So, for those of you who may find yourselves in Zumba class, totally perplexed as to what is happening, simply bounce around and do the Macarena. You will blend right in. For those of you who have no intention of doing the Macarena, at weddings, Zumba, or any other location, you may want to purchase this handy t-shirt.

Sometimes life is easier when you establish expectations in advance.

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