Runners in Zumba Land

I drove towards the Maple Street Dance Space in downtown Albuquerque on Saturday morning, a little flutter in my belly. Was this Zumba thing really a sound idea? Was I about to make a giant fool of myself?

The feeling didn’t dissipate as I circled what I knew to be the right block. Where was this place? Was I supposed to just magically find it, like the train platform that Harry Potter and his friends used when they went to Hogwarts?

Luckily, before I tried to run through any walls, I saw my friends Katrijn and Courtney. Katrijn would be leading our Zumba class; Courtney, like me, was a first-timer.

We all walked into the dance studio (which had a discrete entrance, but not as secret as I had originally suspected). As we waited for the session before us to end, I looked around in appreciation. Not like I know much – or anything – about dance spaces, but this one seemed nice: simple, but spacious. Maybe I wouldn’t knock anyone out with my flailing limbs after all!

About a dozen other students filtered in, and our class began, with Courtney and I placing ourselves strategically in the back row.

What followed was an hour of hip-shaking, arm-swinging, quick-stepping, sassy…fun!

It didn’t matter that my legs were bewildered the entire time (“Um, we’re used to just running in a straight line. What is all this hopping and gyrating about?”). Katrijn led us skillfully and patiently, and thankfully gave us water breaks. We danced to catchy music, laughed at ourselves, and clapped after every song (I dunno, it just felt right). I didn’t feel embarrassed when my feet couldn’t quite keep up or if my arms waved errantly. It reminded me of yoga, where everyone is concentrating so much on themselves that they don’t notice the actions – or missteps – of anyone around them. I can’t remember the last time exercise felt so festive!

Verdict: I like Zumba, and I would do it again. Not to mention it sure felt good to re-awaken those endorphins with some sustained activity. So good, in fact, that I decided to make the next day Reunion Day. Reunion with what or whom, you ask?


Getting back to the running life on Sunday felt especially appropriate for two reasons: 1) The utterly spectacular weather, and 2) My friend Randy’s stellar performance at a Florida triathlon that morning. Randy (owner of the ABQ Running Shop, remember?) has been trying to get his pro card for a while now. I don’t know all the details, but when you get a pro card, it essentially means you’re an awesome triathlete. Well, with this latest race, he got it!!!

The happy news gave me the final motivation I needed to lace up my running shoes and head out the door after a 12-day hiatus. It wasn’t poetic or particularly Earth-moving; I trotted three miles and it took at least two of them to work the kinks out of my legs. A Runner’s World cover girl I was not. But I was back out there!

Would it have been wrong to clap at the end, Zumba style?


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