People keep asking ‘why Zumba all of a sudden, don’t you like yoga anymore?!’
So, here is my blog post about that.
I have always liked to dance or at least attempt to! As a kid I would often be outside in the garden with my Walkman on or jumping about in the living room playing music pretending to be some singer or another and dancing. If it was that then I was pretending to be drummer and air drumming!
At most of my schools I hated PE and sports days, but loved performance or drama and when one or my later schools offered dance instead, then I took that option and we would have end of term performances which I liked, be it drama or dance.
After leaving school I didn’t really have a dance outlet as I went to college for performing arts but was there for music production and my exercise back then was walking or dancing along to a Cher fitness video! I still dip into this cheesiness occasionally now!
Many jobs later, I became a yoga teacher and then gym instructor/PT and although I took the exercise to music qualification, I didn’t do anything with that one as I was busy in my other roles and in the gyms that I worked in, I was always the yoga teacher and / PT and discouraged from leading any dance classes as I was ‘THE yoga teacher’.
Fast forward a little bit and a gym I was working at started to introduce this new thing called Zumba back in 2010 and I really liked it but there were already others leading these classes so I never invested any time in pursuing that as I again was a gym instructor/yoga teacher and that’s what my role was. I did do a few of my own classes outside of gym work that had aerobic moves in for warm up etc but nothing that could be called dance.
Fast forward 10 years and we’re in lockdown and I decide to do an online live Zumba class with a lady that used to come to yoga classes a few years who I remembered did Zumba.
First class was clumsy, like a baby elephant on speed with no coordination. It was bad and I was so glad that I was at home on my own doing it!! Never the less, I laughed a lot at myself, got a bit sweaty and felt good.
Next week found myself wanting to do it again, and again and then every week from then on, I was doing it on a Friday morning without fail for 4 months and also doing the pre-recorded classes too during the week. I was hooked. It made me smile when everything else was doom and gloom in 2020.
Yoga makes me feel good in a different way but I was already doing a lot of that in teaching it on Zoom and I do like to add other movements in my exercise routine as my body is very much used to yoga. I had done weight lifting consistently for a year and a half and I just couldn’t motivate myself with it anymore and I wasn’t getting results physically that I was looking for and I didn’t feel good at the end of it, just kind of bored and unfulfilled.
However I wanted to keep up some strength work, so I opted for online live bootcamps because I was held accountable by someone watching me do it, as well as ‘in a group’ albeit virtually and I also did my own circuit session once a week which was manageable and varied enough to keep me into strength work a little bit.
Walking was a no no for me because everyone was out there doing it, it was busier than ever and where I walked there was people in my way and being too close. I am in an at-risk group and I felt like I was going to fall in the river trying to avoid them!! And I don’t trust my dodgy ankle for running as I’ve had an ongoing issue with one foot for years, but for Zumba, I actually think it may have strengthened my ankle due to all the different ways of moving and turning on the feet. It’s better than it’s ever been.
In July, I decided to do the Zumba training as I figured it wouldn’t be too tough seeing as I had a level 2 Exercise to music and offered my first online class at the end of August and I love it.
I look forward to it every week, a little scared I will forget the routines half way through but there is a lot of smiling, endorphin happiness, fun faces, groovy tunes, wiggling and shimmying and plenty of improvising done by all including myself.
I look forward to one day having enough people that may interested in doing an in-person class with me – I have a feeling it could be a riot!
It may seem like I’ve taken a big departure, especially if you’ve only ever known me as the yoga teacher, but for me, it still fits with yoga as a state, rather than an exercise.
Huh? I hear you say, how can Zumba and Yoga be anything alike.
Well, I was always taught that yoga is not just exercise but a state and a feeling. Yes, sure we associate yoga with stretching mostly, but even on that physical level, it’s so much more than what’s its always associated with – ‘simple stretches’, ‘easy’….. depending on what style you do, yoga can build strength, stamina, coordination, help mobility, stability, balance, proprioception, counteract stress, be cardio vascular in the more vigorous forms, can help weight loss even through the restorative styles such as yin yoga, by lowering cortisol….. anyway, I digress…. (see, I’m never that far from waffling on about yoga!!)
But in the broader sense, yoga helps to bring us into the present moment. To be mindful. In the zone. That is yoga as a state and I’ve had the same feeling when laying out on the grass on a summer’s day, I get it every time I play the drums along to my favourite songs and I get it whilst doing Zumba. Anything you do that you are absorbed in, do mindfully and in the present moment, is yoga. The bringing together of body and mind in the right here and now.
So, there you have it, my story for why I’ve added in Zumba to my timetable.
Because I wanted to. Because I love movement. Because it’s new and takes me out of my comfort zone to teach it. Because it also gives me what yoga does - Me time, space from thinking, exercise and overall feeling of well-being.
Even if you think you can’t dance or you’re like a baby elephant on speed like me, give it just one go, I dare you and you never know, you might actually feel quite good after and get hooked!!