While my girlfriend and I were at lunch one day, I mentioned my slight anxiety about going to a Zumba class at my gym. She seemed confused.
“Why would you be anxious?” she enquired.
“You know … old bones and all!” I responded.
“Old bones? Don’t you know 50 is the new 30?”
Well, I hadn’t known that. Not really. But what she said made me hopeful. Maybe I was just overthinking it. How hard could Zumba be? I wanted to try Zumba. And so I did. And the first three classes were okay. Then I went to the fourth.
As soon as I stepped into the Zumba class on the fourth day, and Jason — the usual instructor — wasn’t there, I panicked. In his place was a perky 19-year old (I confirmed his age after) and a new set of faces. Obviously they got the memo that I hadn’t. He announced that Jason was sick but no problem, let’s party! And when I heard the Woo hoos of the ‘newcomers’, my heart thumped as I knew I was in for a ride! And a ride it was!! You heard me say this new guy was 19, right? Well, Jason is 40. Ok. I’m nearer to Jason’s age. O. K.
He started with a bang! and his adoring fans were ready. With shouts of yeah and more woo hoos, they exploded. Look here nuh, I never before thought I had two left feet!! I jus’ barely stopped myself from tripping more than once. When they were going left, I was going right. When their hands were waving in the air, I looked like I was picking apples. When they were circling their hips, I was looking like … well, you don’t even want to know! Not even the clap did I get right. It was as if I were left-handed!
The one other Black girl in the Zumba class kept shaking her head when she looked at me — as if I was ‘letting down the team.’ After a time I just did whatever I felt like doing, praying for the hour to end quickly. These new faces obviously knew the 19-year old from another class because as soon as the song ‘Shout out to my ex’ started, it was like their anthem! There were shouts, yelps, and karate sounds coming from the polite Canadians, and it was as if they became one. In solidarity. United against the enemy. The ex.
I breathed a deep sigh of relief as the instructor said, ‘Last song before cool down!’ and oh boy, he let it rip! I guess he had to end on a high note? I just barely got the claps right; I stopped trying to keep up. I knew the end was nigh. But the cool down song was equally challenging, requiring serious coordination.
As we did the last stretch, I sighed — pleased that I had stuck it out to the end, but glad it was over. I had to hand it to his regulars. They had it down to a T, and when it ended they high-fived each other.
I have to admit, though: I envied them. But as I walked out and he reminded them that he’d see them on Saturday, I found myself silently pledging to return on Saturday. (I know!!) Uncoordinated or not. I was determined to get the moves. Maybe I’ll get it together in a month or five. Doesn’t matter. I’ll eventually get it. And then I’ll be the old timer trying to not laugh out loud at the newbie 50-year old tripping over her own feet, trying to have rhythm. Trying to not feel dumb.
Don’t believe the hype. Contrary to what my friend said, 50 is NOT the new 30.