A Woman My Size
I timidly walked into a packed group exercise room at Xtreme Fitness in Redding, CA where people were talking to each other, smiling, and some even hugging before the class began. As an overweight, reluctant exerciser, I was quite shocked. Being at the gym had never been a pleasant experience for me; I never even grinned about exercising, let alone actually chuckle. Something was wrong with these people.
A woman dressed in a bright colored Zumba outfit walked up on stage with a big smile, introduced herself, and turned on the music. A disco ball and dance lights spun around and lit up the dark room. The Zumba Instructor, Lisa Reed, started moving and pointing. We all started doing exactly what she did…dance. Before I knew it, I’d danced for an hour. I couldn’t believe I’d exercised for that long without passing out. What a fun time! Wait, did I say that?
The magic of my first Zumba class motivated me to attend as many classes as I could, sometimes even two a day. (This happens to many Zeeps – Zumba lovers.) Every class made me feel better about moving my body. The energy from people dancing was contagious and inspiring. For some reason, I didn’t feel limited any more by my size or my past battles with extra weight. The Zumba choreography challenged me to move in new ways and push myself physically, but it was never humiliating or painful, like other exercising programs I’d experienced.
The music, the dancing, the energy, the magic of the Zumba experience made me feel free. I know that sounds corny, but it’s true. I wasn’t trapped in a fat body anymore. Well, I was still overweight, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t self-conscious about my legs jiggling or my belly bouncing. I didn’t care about any of that, at least not like I used to.
My thoughts prior to Zumba were, “You’re too fat to do that, that, and that too.” Heck, I even felt too fat to walk down the street sometimes because I’d been “mooed” at and called “whale” by people driving by. I was definitely too fat to shake my butt in front of people, that is, until I found Zumba. With the “fat limits” gone, something strange happened, I mean really strange for me, I decided I wanted become a Zumba instructor. I wanted to be a part of the group that helped bring so much joy to people like me.
One of the many marvelous things about Zumba is the creator, Beto Perez, has an open mind. He wants anyone and everyone to experience Zumba. Beto doesn’t limit the opportunity to be an instructor to those who are fitness gurus or who have above average physiques. Anyone who is motivated enough and willing to invest some time and money can become a Zumba Instructor. It’s not about having a six pack or the rock hard butt. It’s about motivating people to enjoy their own ability to move to music.
Today I have the pleasure of teaching Zumba at Salisbury High School and at a few gyms. I love that I can do it and that I can help others have fun while they exercise. I’m not a size two and I’m not cut like some instructors. Yes, I’ve dropped some weight, but I’m just an average woman. I don’t want this to be a weight loss story. This is a weight freedom story. My butt is still big and I still jiggle, but I’m moving with pride. I walk up in front of a group of people with a big smile on my face and when the music starts I move and they move with me. We dance. All sizes, all shapes, all ages. I want them to feel like I feel, absolutely free and wonderful.
Recently, I did a Zumba demonstration and afterwards, a very well dressed older man who obviously worked out said to me, “For a woman your size, you move really well. You surprised me.” The girl in me who’d been insulted by Neanderthals in her past popped her head up for a second and wanted to retreat, but no way. I stood tall in my bright Zumba outfit (size large by the way) and looked at him and said, “Go to Zumba and you will never be surprised again. Any size person can do Zumba and do it well.” I walked away and lead another routine with my big smile and my head held high. Woot! Woot! See you in class!