• Patrick Gabrion

Zooming at Zumba

With the arrival of winter, it's obviously harder to accumulate the road miles that I do during the regular cycling season. So in order to maintain my fitness level, or at least not let it drop off too much, I enjoy other ways of keeping in shape, such as long walks, snowshoeing, and riding my stationary bike indoors. And, of course, I'm also cranking outdoors on my Specialized fat bike as much as possible.


I realize the photo is of my fat bike, but the one I'd planned on using of me in Zumba class was just too frightful.

But this year I have had the opportunity to try something a little different. One of my other "retirement" jobs, besides working at the bike shop, is serving as editor of a monthly newspaper at People Plus, a very participatory community center in Brunswick, Maine. The facility, which chiefly caters to older adults, offers numerous activities — art lessons, book and bridge clubs, learning a language, games of table tennis, topical presentations, and more — along with more than a dozen fitness classes, like yoga, Tai chi, folk dancing, and one I decided to attempt, which is Zumba. And believe me, attempt is the operative word.


I’d never done Zumba before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Prior to class, the instructor said to me, “Just have fun with the music. Keep moving and have fun.” So that’s what I did. I moved and I had fun. But it wasn't a pretty sight. When everyone else was going left, I was going right. When they were propelling themselves forward, I was still backpedalling — and not on a familiar bicycle. There were many times I just wanted to take off helter-skelter around the room, a lone Zumba Zombie on the loose.


The two things I quickly learned were that I didn’t have the hip and wiggle action of my fellow female participants — yes, I was the only dude in class — and I made it a point not to look at myself in the wall mirrors, because I would break up laughing over the fact that I looked so goofy. But as I said, it was a lot of fun and I even showed up for a second time.


While I felt clueless as to what I was trying to do, the instructor on occasion did a wonderful service of slowly going through the various steps for us newbies before she put the music back on and proceeded with the class. It helped make my participation more enjoyable and gave me hope that my arms and legs wouldn’t become twisted pretzels. Near the end of the hour-long session, I felt like I was actually making progress.


You just had to kind of let yourself go, and that’s exactly the point that the instructor made to all of us. “Don’t attempt to overthink. Let your brain go and just let your body move to the music,” she said.


During breaks in the action, it was time for water and favorable reactions from those taking part in the program. “It’s my happy class,” said one woman. For me, I was just happy that I didn't hurt myself, or anyone else with my flailing body parts.


At the end of my initial Zumba class, the instructor exclaimed, “You did great!” From my point of view, a bit of an exaggeration. And after the second time, she said she was going to nominate me for the television series "Dancing with the Stars" because of my Cha Cha moves. I'm thinking to myself people will say just about anything to keep people coming back.


It was indeed fun. Maybe not the normal kind of cross training one would normally do, but I did work up a sweat. So yes, I think I'll keep going. Besides, someone has to play the role of the class clown.


(Editor's note: Thank you all for reading my blog entries. Have safe and happy holidays, and I'll be back after the first of the new year. And by the way, I'm 37 miles from 5,000 for the season, so I should make the mark before the end of 2019.)

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