Well Being

Gym Classy Lady: How Zumba Turned Me Into Sarah Palin

By  | 

For 31 years and a handful of weeks, I've been comfortable with one iron-clad fact about myself: I am physically unable to shimmy. You know, shimmy! Like with your shoulders and boobs all shaking. Like this:


Look at her smug shimmy-ing, taunting me. And yet, never have I been as painfully aware of my lack of shimmy-ing as I was last Saturday at 1:00 pm. Because that, friends, is when I took Zumba.

Exercise is full of trends. We’re always looking for the quick, efficient, cheap workout that’s sure to revolutionize our sweat habits. From Jazzercise to Cross Fit to boot camp to barre, there’s a trend out there for every style. I’m not opposed to trends and think the best class is one that you’ll actually attend, but for some reason, despite trying nearly every different trend, I'd never been inclined to actually try Zumba. Sure, I’d made jokes at Zumba’s expense, but it was so far off my radar that when my workout buddy and I highlighted the schedule of classes at our gym, we selected two, sometimes three classes a day to try, and never even discussed the twice-weekly Zumba.

And then I got an email from Groupon. Or Gilt, or LivingSocial, or RueLaLa, or who can keep track? Four Zumba classes at Z Club NY for so cheap they practically pay you. And their locations proved convenient, which for me is 80% of the battle. (If I buy a Groupon for something way downtown or in Queens or Jersey, forget it. That's never happening, even if it is $5 dim sum or 85% off a massage. Tell me I’m not the only one!) Anyhow, being that I am on the lookout for discount, er cost-effective, exercise, I promptly emailed Kendyl and invited her to join me for some light Zumbaing. And she said no. Actually, there was another word before no, but I'm not sure I'm allowed to write such obscenities on Blisstree, so you get me.

By the time I was rejected by Kendyl, the Groupiltsocialala (I sense a merger for one couponing conglomerate coming on!) had sold out, but I went to Z Club NY's website and was able to purchase a first-timer deal of two classes for $30. Not bad! And so on Saturday, in 20-degree weather, off I went to Zumba my little heart out.

Here's my Zumba review:

EFFECTIVENESS* Overall, was it a good workout? How sweaty was I at the end? From black tie ready to fat man in Texas July.

4 – At the end of the hour class, I was definitely sweaty. It was some serious cardio, although it wasn't as challenging as other cardio classes I've taken, hence the 4.

AMENITIES – How posh was the gym/spa/studio? From lemon water to BYO.

3 – Z Club NY uses existing studio space, so their upper west side class was in the studio typically reserved for Manhattan Youth Ballet. It doesn't say this on their website so you have to really know where you're going or ask someone randomly like I did. In terms of amenities, there weren't really any, per se, but the space was clean and the room wasn't packed.

STUDIO VIBE – Was the place full of lululemon or ratty old t-shirts? How awkward did I feel, from inner-Beyonce to sixth grade me?

4 – Our class had about 15 people, and the crowd varied greatly in age and style. Overall, it was a fairly friendly studio: everyone seemed just nice and normal and ready to dance. As far as how awkward I felt, well, let's just say this: forget being covered in tarantulas, cleaning up vomit for an eternity, I have a new personal hell: watching a video of myself doing Zumba. Holy awkwardness.

TEACHERS – Did the teacher add to or detract from the experience? Did they put together a good playlist?

4 – The teacher was great at communicating with everyone using non-verbal cues, since the music was loud. Her playlist was great and she made it approachable, with several first timers in my class. But I did leave feeling like I hadn't learned much. I'm sure this is the kind of thing that takes time to learn and really get the most out of the class, but I don't feel like going back a second time, I'd be at any advantage over the first time.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE – Would I go again? What else contributed to my experience?

3 – Overall, it was a fun hour that went by very quickly. Although the teacher was good at demonstrating the moves, I didn't feel like I left getting a well-rounded workout; I left feeling like I'd jumped around and danced intensely for an hour or so. And I wasn't sore the next day, which is my biggest clue that I didn't really get that much out of the class. Unfortunately, I think I prefer a little more structure with my cardio.

*All factors are ranked from 1-5, 5 being the best.

About “Gym Class Lady”: Inspired by my love of trying all things fitness, every other week I’ll be reviewing a class, workout fad, or video, based on several factors. I try all these classes so you don’t have to. Have a class to recommend or a review you’d love to read? Leave me a comment!