My brand-new Saturday morning zumba class started today, and I was my usual cool competent bundle of hot mess, fretting about a class full of snooty fit hardbodies who would shun me, or a scary Hun teacher who'd mock me because I can't grab my own foot, or (new fear!) a lame teacher who would barely get my pulse above "mildly entertained," or a nasty clique who'd hog my preferred area on the dance floor, or or or.
But I mustered my wits and girded my loins and buffed my resolve and whatever else one does, and headed out into the bright blue snow-white morning that is New England in March. This class is held at the Episcopalian church, so after trying two doors and being wrong, I trudged down the sidewalk trying not to slip, fall, and break a hip before my first class, then heard two ladies chirp, "We're following you!" "Excellent," I said, "this will be my third door. I'm feeling good." Yep, third door was the charm; we entered the church basement, where another eight women were gathered, looking nervous and awkward, waiting for the class to start.
And I cheered right up; they are women of all sizes and ages and shapes, I will fit in perfectly, even if the instructor was a Hun.
The instructor, however, remained a mystery, because she still hadn't arrived.
I saw a boombox on a shelf in the corner and joked with the woman standing next to me that if there were any CDs, I could lead the class in a warm-up while we waited for the teacher. She said, "Oh, I bet they've got some great CDs," and I did a jazzy finger-snapping version of "Jesus Loves Me," and we laughed.
And we waited some more.
The program coordinator was there, nervously tapping on her cellphone, and at 10:45 she said, "Oh, man, I've got an e-mail from the teacher — her mother-in-law just died, like, an hour ago, she has to go home, she has to cancel class. Oh, dear!" And as we're all kind of sighing and saying, "Oh, well, these things happen, so sorry about mother-in-law," the program coordinator suddenly grabbed my arm, looked deeply into my eyes, and said, "Could you really do it? Would you?"
I looked at the disappointed class, who, to a woman, had just perked up. They looked hopefully back at me. I said, ". . . sure? But we don't have music . . . and it's going to be totally half-assed . . ."
They leaped into action, quickly polling the various music-playing devices available — iPods, phones, etc. — but nothing was going to work. (If I'd had my wits about me, I could have retrieved a CD from my car in less than three minutes — however, my wits had taken a little vacay.) But then we noticed that the boombox had a radio, we quickly found KISS 108 and cranked the volume . . . and we were off!!
Here's the thing: I do know many of the Italian Spitfire's routines by heart (I did some in my basement just the other night), but my muscle memory is completely tied to the music. It was so hard to remember a single routine out of context! But one thing I know about zumba is: Just keep moving. It doesn't matter what you do, just do something. So — we did something! And the program coordinator made the brilliant suggestion of forming a circle and having each woman take turns doing a "move" in the middle that the rest of us would copy, and that ended up being so awesome. One woman did boxing moves. One taught us the cha-cha. One basically ran in a circle pumping her fists in the air, and we all did that and screamed "Wooooo!!!!!" It was hilarious and also incredibly bonding.
At the end, as we did our cool-down, I realized I was dripping with sweat and so was everyone else. It was off the cuff, it was totally half-assed, and yet I think we all got a good workout.
And oh, how they applauded at the end!!
I e-mailed the Italian Spitfire and Sexi Danci Nanci right away:
Two years ago, I could never have imagined feeling confident enough to do something physical in front of people. You two have completely changed my life!!!!!!Nanci replied, "That was without a doubt the best e-mail I have ever received. So when are you going to get licensed to teach Zumba?" And the Spitfire said, "I can so see you doing it too. You look great — you're one of my sexiest Chicas!"
Love my girls!!
And now I must finish my chores, sigh. Such a comedown! But I'm still glowing, even as I vacuum.
—Lady C, happily starring in her own totally awesome so-called life