Well, I wanted to try rock climbing, but the week got away from me, and I found myself near the end of the challenge, without having done anything new. So I ran a mile around my living room. That's new, right? Except that it felt like it wasn't technically something I had never done before. So, I ran down to the gym, and decided to take a class. It happened to be zumba. OK....not really my kind of thing, but it qualified as something new.
I can't really remember the first lesson - except the instructor. She was so full of life and energy and passion for the dance - and it was infectious. I didn't know what I was doing, but I went back the next week and the week after. It was refreshing and so different from anything I've ever done, and it was fantastic. Thursdays became the highlight of the week. But I kept at it, and started improving. Soon I knew a few dance steps and had a few cool moves! I wasn't quite at the stage of dripping in sweat, because I was still learning the steps. But I can report, that my last month of classes have seen me as sweaty as I get after a run.
So what is zumba? Zumba is a Latin cardio-dance party, and the atmosphere literally makes you feel like you're at a party! My instructor uses Latin, World, Rai, Bollywood - all kinds of music - and the result is an electro charged dance session that is off the charts! I am 8 months in to this class, and I am still enjoying it a lot. I also think it's a very useful for runners. Here's why.
Zumba makes you use different muscles than those from running (ok., we knew that), but the dexterity and co-ordination required for this activity, makes you use quick twitch muscles. Running is quite repetitive, and if you're like me, you might also have tight hip flexors, IT bands etc. Well, zumba is excellent cross-training, because it forces you to use those hips, hamstrings and the constant switching of steps make you use muscles you don't usually, and give your 'running' ones a break! Not to mention the cardiovascular benefits - I was struggling to keep up when I first joined, but gradually my stamina and core strength increased. And now I can keep up. Recently I missed 2 weeks due to my mum visiting, and when I went back, I could feel how my fitness had gone down again.
Whilst mum was here, I took her with me to class where she did a variation all of her own. But she loved the atmosphere and the people she met - besides just enjoying herself and having fun.Zumba can be pretty competitive as well. I didn't think so at the time, but when you're there, you want to do your best. And I tend to stand in the front row as well - yes I've grown that much in confidence. Initially I stood in front so that I could watch my instructor and learn the moves. Now I stand in front because yes, I still have lots of moves to learn, but I want to improve my form and watch myself in the mirror too :-) I think zumba is a keeper!