Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Zumba is Friggin' Hard: My exercise class

So a couple weeks ago a talk about what's wrong with health and fitness, here is where I talk about what's right.

While it is called a secondary project because it doesn't relate directly to my sector of work, one of the biggest and most important projects I've done is Paraguay is lead a group of women in a 30 min to an hour long work out class twice a week.

I was handed this class by the volunteer who came before me. She started this class, and asked for the next volunteer to continue. While never explicitly admitted I'm pretty certain that's a huge reason I was placed in this site. I'm sure glad they did.

Those who know me, know just how lacking I am when it comes to grace, and rhythm  I am super amped that I live in a time when jumping up and down fist pumping on a dance floor now counts as dancing. Anything else is pretty much over my head. But here I am teaching Zumba, and loving every minute of it.

Not since my debut in the Sunshine Dancing Kids in 2nd grade have I enjoyed choreographed dance so much. My group and I laugh and sweat our way through jumps, salsa steps and booty shakes. Most of the women there do have weight loss goals, and I imagine that some of them are at risk for obesity related diseases, but the goal of the group is not weight loss. The goal of the group is have fun, push our limits, and make fun of me in Guarani.

Like most of my work, I don't know if I would consider this "development" but I love this project. My goals have changed over the past year and have certainly mellowed out. Starting, I thought I was gonna Jillian Micheals their asses into shape. I made hard work outs, and focused on intensity. Since I like working out and pushing physical boundaries I couldn't understand why I saw so many women cut corners, or stop early when I knew they had more in them.  I would get so frustrated trying to explain that what we were doing was fun. Push-ups are fun!  Lets do more push-ups to see just how fun they are. But I realized push ups aren't always fun. Seeing how long you can hold a plank is only interesting to some people. And not everyone thinks getting yelled at is good motivation.

I now laugh at how down right stupid I was. The best part of this class in not kilos lost, or muscle gained. It's the camaraderie, the fun, and the hour we all take to dedicate to ourselves. Just today the women rallied together to get through 20 burpees. Hooting and hollering to the end as I counted out how many we had left. Nobody cut the corner, or stepped out. A group of women with an average weight around 200lbs busted out 20 burpees at the end of a hour long workout and they did it together. We also did it to the beat of Rhianna song which made it way more fun.

I'm still figuring out my fitness instructor style, but I've learned to keep the focus on my students. Class is not a place for me to show off what a bad ass I am. I want to give my students what they want, and what they want is more Zumba. So I humble myself and go online to find new routines, practicing them in my little house with the windows open for all my neighbors to see. (This isn't embarrassing at all.) But it is all in a days work.