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How Zumba Helped Me Conquer a Fear

Taking the advice we tell our kids to "try it, you might like it" is even harder to follow when you are an adult and stuck in your ways.

For some time I had been hearing friends talk about these great classes at the gym called . Apparently, they offered great Latin and international music along with dance steps for a workout that feels like a party atmosphere. When one friend mentioned how fun it was and that she also wanted to die after her first class, I was intrigued. How could something be described as “really fun” and also inspire death?

Curious, I wanted to try out , but I was scared.

Not being the most athletic person, I feared I’d be keeling over in class and have to be escorted out half conscious. Or maybe every single person in the class would be a professional dancer and would be snickering as I tried desperately and awkwardly to follow the steps. What if I tripped over my own feet and knocked a row of people down like dominoes?

I wasn’t sure which scenario was worse but they all seemed highly probable and thus, kept me hesitant to venture out of my comfort zone at the gym. Instead, I stuck to my usual time with the elliptical and made creative excuses to myself for why I could not brave a class – the timing didn't work, I hadn’t signed up yet, my knee hurt today so probably not a good day to attempt something new, and so on.

This went on for weeks. Sometimes I’d steal glances of a Zumba class in session peering through the glass door trying to gauge whether my apprehension was a bit presumptuous. When I realized that most of the people in the classes looked like actual mortals and not super bionic dancing Zumba machines, I started to think maybe I could handle it. Yet, still I held back, not fully ready to make that important first step inside the studio. It was much easier to just stick to what I knew in the rest of the gym.

It was not until I thought of my kids and their many fears, and how I encourage them on a daily basis to try to overcome them, that I realized how silly I was being.

How could I expect them to prevail in a world full of dark rooms and leafy green vegetables when I could not summon the courage to be a little brave and try something new myself? It’s like I’ve told Lily 100 times before in the midst of a , “just try it and you might like it!”

I finally decided to take my own advice.

With determination, I got myself Zumba ready one evening and crept into the back of a class, but not without some moral support in the form of a friend I dragged along with me. In case things went badly, I figured misery loves company, or at least a familiar face to help peel me off the ground if I passed out.

The class was packed full and there was nowhere to hide. But once the music got started the vibrating rhythmic beats invigorated the room. The instructor was high energy and encouraging everyone to have fun, smile and just keep moving.

I left my insecurities at the door and tried my best to match the instructor’s movements. In no time, I was a sweaty mess but I realized I was not actually close to dying. I may not have been doing the steps right or making them look nearly as natural as the instructor, but the upbeat energy in the room kept me going.

I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, which was a little unnerving and caused me to lose my place. But in doing so, I also saw that there were others in the class who were beginners like myself. They may have been a little lost like me but they were smiling and appeared to be having a good time.

And you know what? It WAS fun, I was actually enjoying a group exercise class. I have been going back a couple times a week ever since. I’m glad I finally took my own advice and just tried it, because now I look forward to the classes each week instead of fearing them.

Zumba classes are offered in Canton at and the .

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