Today I made a grueling sacrifice of my own body and spirit in order to provide you, my lovely readers, with some very useful information. I wanted to save you from pain and humiliation, so I endured it myself, in order to report firsthand how you can avoid disaster the next time you go to the gym.
First rule: Think twice before taking that cool new "Zumba" fitness class.
For those of you who don't know, Zumba is an aerobics class that combines latin, salsa, and hip-hop moves with high-intensity dance music. Don't be fooled, like I was, into thinking that "dancing" makes aerobics "less work." It is not only not less work, it is probably more work, because unless you have some actual dance training, these are not moves that come naturally to your body.
Second rule: Watching "So You Think You Can Dance" does not qualify you to replicate any of the moves you have seen on tv.
Just because you can tell the difference between salsa and rumba does not mean that your hips all of a sudden can shimmy that way. Seriously. TV watching doesn't help there at all. Just like playing race-car-driving video games does not make you a better driver.
Third rule: If you decide to take the class, dress like the other class members, so you don't stand out so much.
Everyone else in the entire gym seems to wear tight exercise clothing, form fitting pants or shorts and a sports bra or other tight shirt. I don't know the purpose of these clothes, since it doesn't seem like wearing a normal t-shirt would restrict your motion all that much. But, what the heck do I know? You don't want to be the only person in baggy sweatpants and an XL Orem Owlz t-shirt, looking like you just rolled out of bed. Trust me. You'll stand out.
Fourth rule: Choose your place in the room carefully.
You can't just stand wherever there's an open space, the place you stand affects the entire class. You don't want to be at the front, because then everyone behind you can see you mess up constantly. You don't want to be at the back, because then it's your fanny that the people on the treadmills are watching, since the back wall is glass. You don't want to be on the extreme sides, either, because when you do moves that turn you around, you will all of a sudden have no one to watch and that's when the moves will get really complicated. And you really don't want the rest of the class to watch you then. The best place to stand? At home. Or in a closet. Or under an invisibility cloak. Although that might trip you up a little.
Fifth rule: Once the actual class starts, throw yourself in it with all your energy.
Nothing makes up for a complete lack of skill like bounding enthusiasm. Do the moves with reckless abandon, with a great big smile on your face. People can't judge you nearly as harshly if they think you are 1)enjoying yourself or 2)too dim to know you're doing it wrong.
Sixth rule, and this one's important: Don't look in the mirror!
Don't even glance! Keep in your mind a picture of yourself as graceful and talented as Ginger Rogers, and don't let anything crack that facade. It's the only thing keeping you going, that pretense of not looking like a complete idiot. Under no circumstances should you let reality invade that beautiful mental picture!
Seventh rule: If your ego needs a boost, look at someone worse than you.
Surely you're not the only one in the class who is struggling, right? Avert your eyes from the cute skinny blondes who seem to know the moves intuitively. Ignore the pregnant women in the back whose fetuses are probably more coordinated than you. Focus instead on the woman on the left with the red face, who keeps turning the wrong direction and looks like she's doing jumping jacks while everyone else is doing the mambo. Yes, that woman, who keeps stepping on her own feet and just whacked herself in the face with her arm. At least she looks like she's having fun, she's got such a big smile on her face... Wait a second, that's YOU!! I said DON'T look in the mirror!!!
Eighth rule: Banish any jiggling from your consciousness.
Just because your thighs and butt are as wiggly as a bowl of Jell-o, doesn't mean you need to dwell on that. It will bring you nothing but pain, my friend. Hey, could that be the purpose of the tight clothes, to keep all of your excess flab in one place? Because I could see the advantage to that; it sure would be easier to exercise if I knew my butt wasn't a half-step behind the rest of my body. But until you have rock hard muscles, keep any thoughts of how you would make a great female Santa (shakes when she exercises like a bowl full of jelly), keep those thoughts out of your mind.
Ninth rule: Don't give up.
So what if you looked like a complete moron the entire hour, that the treadmill runners thanked you for the great entertainment and the instructor directed some pointed encouragement your way. You lasted the whole hour! You sweated and huffed and wheezed your way through 60 minutes of seriously intense aerobics! At the end of the day, your body doesn't know how embarrassed it should be at your lack of finesse, all your body knows is that you burned some major calories. Which is great, so long as you don't drown your humiliation in a pint of Haagen Dazs. And if you can follow these simple exercise class rules, you should be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that I suffered on your behalf. I'm off to buy some jiggle-free clothes. I'll see you in class next week.