Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Zaftig Zumba

If you were to look up 'zaftig' in the dictionary, you'd find this:

zaf·tig   /ˈzɑftɪk, -tɪg/ Show Spelled[zahf-tik, -tig] Show IPAadjective Slang. 1.(of a woman) having a pleasantly plump figure.

2.full-bodied; well-proportioned.

Also, zoftig.

Origin: 1935–40; < Yiddish zaftikliterally, juicy, succulent; compare Middle High German saftec,derivative of saf(t), Old High German saf(German Saft) sap, juice

I believe I prefer the original Yiddish meaning... 'juicy, succulent...'  Yeah, that's me! 

And if you went to another dictionary, where you could actually find 'zumba,' you'd see this:

Zumba: A dance exercise where you dance for about an hour straight. Zumba incorporates all different types of dances such as salsa, marimba, belly dancing, cha-cha, and more.
Neither of these things would be particularly noteworthy to me, had I not agreed to sign up for a 6-week zumba class with my friend Susan.  I'd tried zumba before and gave up after 2 classes.  Just didn't like it.  For one thing, my sense of rhythm is... off.  I'm doubtful that I even have one, to be honest.  Plus, the instructor was clearly teaching to the people in the class who'd been there before - those of us who were new pretty much just tried to keep up.

But Susan caught me at the right time - I had been feeling a need to move (which zumba will do for you!), and I thought it would be a good idea to get into doing something physical before winter sets in and my usual desire for hibernation kicks in.  I thought that if I developed some sort of habit of movement, I might keep it up during the winter.  So when she asked, I said ok...

And tonight was the first class.

Stephanie is the instructor, a nice woman in her 30s.  It must be part of zumba instructor training that they have to smile a lot... kind of like synchronised swimmers.  It's hard to believe that anybody is having that much fun working up a sweat!  (At least, not in that environment - I mean, I have worked up sweats while wreathed in smiles, but not in a gym!)  And she was not teaching for the 3 skinny-hipped girls who are usually in the first row, all frenetic energy and hooting.  (Thank God, those women were not there tonight!)

It's not that I have anything against skinny-hipped girls, really.  It's just that zaftig girls don't tend to keep up with 'em in exercise classes.  We don't move the same way at all.  Tonight, for instance, there was a move in which we walked forward a couple of steps and then, with feet together, hopped backwards three steps.  Well, I can't do that!  I just cannot make my body make that movement.  Maybe in time, but not tonight.

And zaftig girls of a certain age (ahem)... well, we have other issues as well.  My knees haven't been the same since I fell a couple of years ago.  They still bend and all, but any kind of jouncy movement is gonna have limited application, because generally, I can't do it more than twice before it begins to hurt.

Then there's the music.  Generally speaking, I don't know the music.  It is not on the radio stations to which I listen!  Classic rock and the CBC (NPR, if you're reading from across the border) rarely play the sort of music upon which zumba classes are founded.  It's catchy enough, but when I'm trying to move to music, it helps me if I know the music, because then I'm not trying to predict the note or change in rhythm that comes next.  I already know it, and so I can concentrate on my movement.  Somehow, I don't think I'm ever gonna find a zumba class with Springsteen... or Pearl Jam... or Grieg.... though they've all turned out some very sprightly tunes!  Familiarity will help, which means going to more than one class, of course...

I did discover one interesting thing.  A number of the routines we did had movements which could almost be described as burlesque - you know, that upward thrust of a hip... or the rolling movement of your lower body, arms above your head... the occasional pelvic tilt.  You know the moves.  Well, those I can do.  Go figure.  I have a theory on that, too (but if you're a minor, you probably should stop reading now).  And my theory is that I learned those movements in a horizontal position.  My body knows, remembers, and appreciates those movements.  (Who knows... I might get to feel the same way about those other movements that almost - but not quite - trip me up!)

Still, though, I wonder if I shouldn't have found an Irish dance class.  Yes, it's faster, I know.  But Irish dance requires you to keep your upper body still.  I think I could do that.  I can move my lower body.  I can move my upper body.  But something very peculiar happens when I try to coordinate movement of upper and lower body.  It's almost as if I forget that I even have a moveable upper body!

But... I went to the class.  I sprinted around in the class.  And I will go back to the class... for a few reasons.  First, I made a commitment to my friend.  Second, I think I'm gonna like the instructor.  Third, I'm friggin' stubborn - I can't truly believe that I can't do this (snicker!).  Fourth, I know that I can do anything, anything, on a time-limited basis.  I've already got one out of 6 classes complete!

And next week... well, next week, I'm back at my Monday evening gym class.  We'll see how committed I sound to this whole 'movement' thing next Wednesday night!

You will not be seeing this on Youtube.  ;)

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