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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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Most Saturday mornings, I volunteer as an SAT tutor on the other side of town.  I love it, but it means that I miss out on Saturday morning cartoons and Saturday morning gym classes.  This week, the kids are taking a practice test, so I'm off duty.  I decided that I should try something different.

As you may know, I've been a little reluctant to try Zumba, the Latin dance class that has been all the rage lately.  I blame this on my mother.  I still recall bringing friends home after middle school, and walking into the house only to find mom in the living room Sweatin' To the Oldies.  Oh, how she loved Richard Simmons.  (To get the full picture, you need to note the awesome 80's leotards and spandex, which, by the way, she still owns.)

Today, I decided to go for it and try the 9:45 am class at the 74th St. Equinox.  When I arrived, a cult-like cardio-sculpt class was finishing up (seriously, I've never seen so many people packed in a room).  A crowd of people were waiting outside for Zumba.  2 women were wearing Zumba pants.  This scared me a bit.  People with gear have to be good, right?

I decided back corner was the way to go in case I tripped over my feet. 

In class today, we went through maybe 8 or so songs.  You do each song once, so in the beginning you kind of fake it and eventually you get to know the choreography.  I noticed that certain people seem to know certain songs better than others.  In fact, one second row woman who was all the way off to the side, moved front and center next to the instructor for one number. 

Can you do this?  Yes.  If you can pull off a respectable grapevine/that thing that passes for a hora at most Jewish weddings these days, you can keep up.  Will you look like a jackass?  Probably.  You have to be willing to get over that and just keep moving if you want to keep your heart rate up.  If you try to follow, you will sweat.  My heart rate monitor spazzed a bit in the beginning, but it tells me that during the hour I burned 299 calories, and that my average heart rate was 139. 

I've heard that Zumba can be intimidating because of all the good dancers.  74th Street was fine. Despite the regulars, generally speaking, people weren't very good at this.  In fact, most of the people who looked good weren't following the instructor 100%.  The crowd was mixed in terms of age and fitness.  There was this adorable grandma type right behind the instructor.  6-pack woman was there, too, jumping around.  (If you've taken classes at 74th St, you've probably seen this woman and her awesome 6-pack.) 

Zumba is not exclusive to Equinox.  You can find classes at NYSC, SportsClub LA, Synergy, the JCC, Alvin Ailey (where you can take 1 off classes), 24 Hr Fitness, the 92nd St Y and a lot of other places.  There are also videos, if that's more your thing.

If you like to dance, you'll probably like Zumba.  I thought it was really fun, and I burned more calories than I expected to.  Will I be buying the pants anytime soon?  Probably not.  (If you're curious, check out the Zumba store).  But I would totally go again.

-Gym Belle-

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