Originally from NY, I have been living in Sebastopl for 20 years. Before discovering Zumba 4 years ago, I studied belly dance for 3 years and have taken classes in African and Bollywood dance styles. For over 10 years I have been a professional fire-dancer, performing with a troupe at many public and private events in the Bay Area. What this tells you about me is that I enjoy dance. What this doesn’t tell you is that fitness did not come naturally to me.
Most of my adult life, I weighed over 250 lbs. At 5’4” that was heavy and unhealthy. As I got closer to my 40th birthday, I was determined to take off the extra weight. I began with Weight Watchers, which follows a common sense approach of portion control and regular exercise. For me, this meant finding ways to exercise which were enjoyable, or my success would have been short-lived and the program unsustainable. Initially, I chose biking and happily cycled away many pounds, until I hit a seemingly impenetrable weight loss plateau and needed to switch it up.
That is when I signed up for a Zumba class. I will never forget that first class -- I was nervous that I’d be stumbling around lost, out of synch and getting in the way of others. In fact, I did stumble around out of synch but it didn't matter because, by the end of class, I was smiling and felt inspired. It was obvious that if I returned to class the moves and routines would become more familiar, and the simple act of making progress would be nourishing. Five years later I can report that I have never once had to drag myself to a class, or left without a smile. I have however, lost a total of over 110 lbs.
So, if you'e one of those people who struggles to maintain an exercise routine, I get it. I know firsthand how difficult it can be to start and to stick with it. But I don’t believe that good health is reserved for athletes or fitness experts, and I don't believe it comes in one shape, size or age. I think everyone can enjoy and benefit from exercise if they find something which is fun and inspiring, and that's what I hope Zumba is for you.
I'm going to close with two bits of wisdom I return to now & then about exercise...
When I was orignally looking at having to lose over 100 pounds and feeling daunted by the task, I thumbed through an article on weight loss which offered this: Afraid it's going to take you 10 years to reach your goal weight? Well, 10 years is going to pass whether you lose the weight or not, so where do you want to be in 10 years: where you are now?
That was a spark!
Some years later, when I found myself unmotivated to head out for exercise on my lunch break, I whined to a co-worker that I just wasn't in the mood for sweat and exercise that day, and she replied, "I hear you, but when have you ever gotten through a vigorous exercise routine and said to yourself at the end, Darn, I wish I hadn't exercised...?" The answer was: Never. I have never gotten to the end of an exercise hour and regretted having done it. To the contrary, we are almost always glad we exercised when it's done.
So, I hope to see you at Zumba!