Stephanie Shakes Her T’s At Zumba

As an English major at a catholic college, the irony of learning about Zumba in the Hispanic Outreach office was not lost on me. What was, however, were the kinds of people who signed up to take a class like that because, the way in which it was described, I could only envision a baby-oiled, svelte JLo—three things I, and a majority of other women or so I tell myself to feel less bad about my under-bed stash of Doritos, most definitely am not.

That’s not to say JLo and I don’t have anything in common. For starters, we’re both Puerto Rican. While my racially ambiguous skin and the fact my last name (Castillo) becomes Italian when you add an extra vowel (Castiello) would suggest otherwise, I promise I am. You can watch me eat a plate of rice and beans if you want.

ANYWAY! After Bro G (Brother George to non-homies) told me all about this sexy, slimming dance thing, I…did nothing. Yes, it sounded infinity times better than what had become my fitness crutch of treadmills and crunches, but I’d rather be bored than put my zero rhythm on display. Sure, I’m Spanish, but the best I am at salsa is piling it high on my nachos.

It wasn’t until years later that Zumba crossed my mind again after Santa brought my sisters and me a Nintendo Wii, and the first game my sister thought to buy was Zumba Fitness. I’m not sure why that was her first choice, but, after watching her “play,” my skepticism was confirmed. No, I didn’t knock it before I tried it. I did try it. I was alone, too. It was just me and the Wii, when, after one simulated maraca shake, I thought, Nope! I shut the console off and never looked back.

That is until my best friend from college asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Not only in her wedding, but in a strapless, A-line dress that was practically begging on its espresso hands and knees for me to get back on the fitness horse—one I’d fallen off of since before the end of college. Luckily, one of the (many) perks of working for Rodale is free exercise classes. Guess which one was suggested I try first?

I figured, Why not? So I headed to our Energy Center on a Tuesday night in my Captain America t-shirt, only slightly hoping I’d be as strong and suave as the guy who plays him—love me, Chris Evans—and waited in the way back for class to start. When it did, and as we worked our way through routines, Zumba, for the first time, didn’t seem impossible. Sure, I 100% felt silly and shook my arms so hard that I thought my flab would fly me south for winter, but I was doing it. I was shaking my t’s, squatting, lunging, reaching and pulling just about everything. By the end of the class, I’d worked up enough of a sweat and confidence to return for another one. I’ve been a regular ever since.

I don’t know why I decided to stick with it this time around. Maybe it’s seeing other people laugh at themselves, or having an instructor who will slow down a step so you get it the next time around. Or maybe it’s being around an energy you can literally feed off of. But I do know this: I really enjoy it. It’s an alternative—spicy—way to sweat it out. So if you’ve been curious about it, do it. Unless, of course, you get so into it that (ahem) you punch your own face. Then it might be time for a break. But mostly do it. And then post a comment below to tell me how your first class went!

Via: First Person

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