I recently was introduced to a group of people who worked with a friend of mine. It was very obvious that I was the oldest one at the table as they all seemed to be in their 20’s. Sitting at the opposite end of the table was the boyfriend of one of the female co-workers. Being the extrovert that I am, I asked him what he did for a living, as I already knew what everyone else did. He said he was a personal trainer, and it turns out he worked a different gym than I do. I mentioned to him that I teach Zumba to which he replied that he didn’t like it. When I asked him why, his response not only caught me off guard, but…well…to be perfectly honest, it pissed me off. He told me that Zumba is completely ineffective after six months. Again…this is coming from someone who has never stepped foot in a Zumba class. Proudly, I took the high road and just chalked this up to him being an uninformed ass.
I’ve thought about what he said a lot lately and am happy to report that I know he is still completely wrong for several reasons. Here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:
- Any exercise is ineffective if you stop doing it!
- Since 2010, I have Zumba to thank for helping me keep 35+ lbs off. (If my math is correct, that’s a bit longer than six months.)
- He’s only thinking of external changes. I know it is because of Zumba that I can run a 5K with no problem. Prior to taking the class, I couldn’t run longer than about 30 seconds without feeling like my heart was going to explode in my chest. I am so much more heart healthy now than I was before and my recovery time after exerting myself during a routine is proof of that.
- It’s hard enough to exercise, let alone find something you truly enjoy. I know many of those in my classes have been consistently attending since before I started teaching in 2011. I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to see the joy on their faces during class. Those who are new to the class are surprised just how quickly an hour passes. I guarantee that there isn’t a single person who would say they’d rather be on a treadmill than dancing to fun music.
- You have no idea what battles someone else is facing. If Zumba helps them forget about their troubles, even if for 60 minutes, it’s a win in my book. I know it has helped me get through some very difficult times in my life because it gave me something else to focus on at the moment.
- The bonds that my members have made with their fellow classmates is apparent when I see how they cheer each other on and encourage those around them. It really is wonderful to be a part of that especially since I knew no one when I stepped into my very first Zumba class back in 2010.
I could go on and on, but I think what frustrated me the most about what he said was that his opinion was ignorant at best. I, for one, am completely supportive of anyone, in my classes or not, who has an interest in exercise. Their motivation is their business. It could be weight loss, heart health, muscle tone, a need for an endorphin release that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol, or any other number of reasons. I am always encouraging my classes to mix things up and try something new. It doesn’t mean I’m asking them to give up Zumba by any means, but different activities challenge your body in different ways. In some cases, I don’t necessarily mean physically, but rather mentally. They are forced to step outside their comfort zone and experience something unfamiliar. You can’t help but grow and change for the better when that happens.
Today I spent two hours with about 150 people who were attending a Zumbathon to raise awareness for Autism. This was my very first Zumbathon, and it’s basically a two-hour dance party. My very dear friend joined me, and I was particularly excited because we had never gotten to Zumba side-by-side before as we met when she attended my class for the first time a few years ago. Since then we’ve become very close, but had it not been for Zumba we most likely never would have met. There were so many other reasons that this experience was so enjoyable, but one of the main reasons is that everyone in that room was there because Zumba is something they love. There is so much sadness and tragedy in life as it is. If Zumba can spread joy to those who really need it then I would have to say it is one of the most effective workouts you can find!!