Sara Pauff: Switch up your workout and try something new

February 27, 2012 

Two weeks ago, when I told my sister I was coming home for a visit she said, “Great! You can visit my new gym and come to Zumba class with me.”

Two things you should know:

I don’t belong to a gym myself because working out in large groups of people gives me flashbacks to high school fitness class. I’m in average shape, but I’ve never been an athlete or learned how to use any fitness machine beside a treadmill. There’s nothing that makes me feel more out of shape than going to a gym.

Zumba is a Latin dance-based fitness class that also incorporates aspects from hip-hop and belly dancing. My dancing ability lies somewhere between Elaine Benes on Seinfeld (Remember the “little kicks”?) and those inflatable dancing men you see flailing their fabric arms in front of car dealerships. I don’t like to dance in public for the same reasons I don’t belong to a gym. It makes me self-conscious.

I texted my sister back. “Sure, Zumba sounds cool.” I thought when the weekend came I could find some way to get out of it.

I wanted to spend time with my sister. I just didn’t want to spend it sweating it out with a bunch of strangers.

But fitness experts say it’s good to change up your workout routine every now and then. If you do the same pilates combination every week, your body gets used to the routine and you burn less energy -- not to mention you get bored. When your workout routine bores you, you’re less likely to stick with it. So I decided to try out Zumba just once, even though I was sure I’d look like an out-of-shape fool.

My sister did her best to give me confidence. She took salsa dancing lessons through most of college and showed me some basic moves. She also told me that uncoordinated beginners show up to the class all the time, stand in the back and follow along as best they can.

However, when she started to put on make-up before we left, I got a little worried. I was wearing a pair of workout pants and an old T-shirt with bleach stains and I would be participating in a class that would no doubt leave me sweaty and red-faced. Just how good was I supposed to look while working out?

I shouldn’t have worried. The class was fun, from the moment the instructor put on Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” to the cool-down at the end. I wasn’t the only one with no rhythm or dancing skills who didn’t know what she was doing. I don’t know if I did all the moves correctly, but at least I didn’t run into anybody or cause an injury. No one cared that I wasn’t wearing any make-up.

Zumba may not become part of my regular workout routine -- jogs in the park or workout videos fit in better with my schedule -- but it was fun to learn something new. I told my sister that next time I visit, we should go to the kick-boxing class, because that really looks like fun.

--Contact Sara Pauff at 706-320-4469 or spauff@ledger-enquirer.com. For more commentary, read her 20 something blog at www.ledger-enquirer.com/sara.

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