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  • Writer's picturecatherine@allaboutwriters

A little more cha-cha-cha

Today I took a step into the unknown. Into the terrifying. Into a cha-cha move and a shimmy. Zumba.

There was shaking, stepping, wiggling and lunging. Even the occasional pose. I've avoided this kind of excercise class as much as possible, including choreographed aerobics and step-style classes. The workout doesn't scare me, but the coordination is something that has never been my forte. I was a gymnast, not a dancer. And not being a dancer through my all-girl high school years has left me with some scars. Getting older and wobblier, both on my feet and in certain areas of my body, the need for excercise has increased while the fear of choreographed moves has stayed steady.

And so Zumba has never been an option for me. But with time being ever more tight and my body being ever more the opposite, today my choice at the gym was Zumba or nothing. I channelled a gorgeous (and coordinated) Zumba-loving friend and got to class early, determined to get a place along the back wall. As smiling women of all ages, shapes and sizes filled the room around me, I was in awe of the confidence, the friendliness, the brazen women who lined up front and centre, weights by their sides.

Hang on - weights? I turned to the lady beside me to ask about the weights, then raced to the front to grab some, almost calling "place reserved" as my siblings and I did when vacating a good seat in the lounge. Having reclaimed my place, I looked up as our instructor glided into her space, white teeth flashing in an endless smile below her long lashes and silky smooth hair. She was radiant in style and personality, and called us all to attention with a voice that almost caressed us into place and coerced smiles onto our smitten faces.

And then...the music. It's the kind of music that makes you move without thinking, the sort of music that pumps through your body alongside your blood. With whoops and shouts and rhythm that comes from a place so deep inside, I can't help but smile and throw my left foot forward...soon realising it should have been my left, but the music continues and there's no time to think about such trivial matters. Although we couldn't understand the lyrics, it was clear the point being made was strong and the language not suitable for an exercise class. It was full of feeling. It was alive.

And we moved. Boy, did we move. We stepped, we shook, we swirled and twirled. I turned the wrong way, stepped on the wrong foot, shimmied when I should have been shaking. I lamented with the lady alongside me that by the time we worked out a bit of routine, she moved us onto the next part. I apologised to another neighbour for fast-stepping left and into her instead of right. But I bumbled through, laughing with my partners in pain and mostly at myself. It was exhausting, the mental and physical energy while struggling not to collapse into a heap of laughter.

When I compare this class to my usual pilates sessions, which sees me on equipment such as the reformer, spine corrector, and of course torture - I mean trapeze - table, I wonder why I was so fearful of this musical, joyous class. Sure, there were moves well above my pay scale, but with a little practice and a whole lot of laughter, I could become a convert. In fact, I feel like a little cha-cha just thinking about it.

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