No, I have been going to a Zumba! class. (I think that the Zumba! gods come and get you if you don't write it that way and make you do the Cuban salsa, complete with furiously waving arms, for 20 minutes straight as punishment.) My sister, a friend, and I go to a class offered at a local church on Tuesday evenings, and my mom and I hop on over to our local library for another class the very next night.
Here's the thing: like a lot of people, I have always really hated to exercise. For one thing, I am not terribly coordinated, so organized sports and I never really got along together. I was always musical, so after about seventh grade I just gave up on sports and accepted my role as band geek. (And lest you think this means I never got active, may I just remind you that I was in high school band in Texas. Which means marching. All. The. Dang. Time. I was a size zero in high school with admirable muscle tone.) Once I got to college and realized that Mr. Storie wasn't after me for not staying in formation, I let things slide, and, yes, gained weight. Physical activity was sporadic. Then I had kids, and you know the story: Weight, a complete loss of abdominal muscles, and no time for hair washing or, you know, sleep, let alone exercise. A vicious cycle.
Mom, My Sister the Goddess, and I were sick of looking like moms. We had been talking about pursuing Zumba! once my sister and I had our respective babies, and finally schedules coalesced and we found ourselves going regularly.
And guess what. I love it. I absolutely love it.
I was worried that my lack of coordination was going to be a detriment to my success and that everyone in class was going to first stand back in abject horror and then point and laugh in unison. But when we arrived for our first class, it became clear that this was not a Zumba! class like you see in promotional videos; you know the ones, filled with hordes of toned, nubile young woman wearing nothing but their sports bras and a smile. (Interestingly enough, these nubile young women never tie their long hair up, instead allowing it to get sweaty and tangled. Ridiculous.) All three instructors are middle-aged, and two of them are decidedly plump. Obviously fit, because they could dance me under the table, but not conforming to society's standard definition of fit (which is, of course, "anorexic and also imaginary.") The women (yes, all women) in the class range in age anywhere from 18 to 65 and represent all known body types (besides, say, morbidly obese.)
When we first arrived we were a little late, so we slipped into the class and tried to keep up. I surreptitiously glanced around myself from time to time, any nervousness I brought with me slowly puddling to the floor (ew) as I saw that the coordination in the room varied as widely as the body types did. Then it hit me: I was not in high school anymore. I was an adult, struggling with my body image after four children, seeking exercise, in a room full of women with the same foibles and fears and jiggly thighs. No one else was looking around. Instead, all attention was on just absolutely letting go and moving and getting active. Coordination, attractiveness, and the ability to salsa (that one took me awhile) didn't matter. What mattered was moving as much as possible and being enthusiastic.
After a couple of classes I had completely shed the nervousness. I still stumble and bumble, but I like to think that embracing the letting-it-all-go mentality has helped eased my stiff muscles and made it easier to wiggle my hips. And guess what? I feel sexy. Really, I do. Not that we are doing sexy moves or dancing to sexy music. I mean, our classes are in a church and a library, for heaven's sake. But shedding my fears and giving it my all and doing my best to look as natural as my ridiculously cute Columbian instructor have all helped raise my self-worth up a couple notches, and if that doesn't make a housewife feel sexy, then I don't know what will.
Just so you know, this is what I imagine like when I'm doing Zumba!, when I'm in pain and loving it and smiling this ridiculously wide, goofy smile:
See what I mean about the hair? So. Stupid.
And this is what I actually look like: