Lessons from Zumba

Over the last few weeks, I've started taking a Zumba class at my local community center. Several of my friends had said that they enjoyed Zumba, and I thought it would be fun to try. So I went. It's really fun, actually, despite the fact that I look like I'm re-enacting that scene in Date Night when Tina Fey and Steve Carrell do the robot dance when in fact I'm really doing the cha-cha.

Gracefulness has never been my strong point.  I can follow along. I can keep up.  But I'm not very skilled at the intricacies of the movies. I'm just...not.

So I'm following the instructor* and trying to figure out exactly what she's doing with her fancy footwork, and I kept getting frustrated for my first two classes. I couldn't get my feet and legs to move that fast. So I just hopped and trotted and jumped in combinations that I hoped resembled what the teacher was doing, and then soon enough we would be back to a section that involved walking or the grapevine, and I was all good.

When I went the other day, I finally figured out what my problem was.  I was making the moves way more complicated than they really were.  The instructor wasn't actually stepping, just sort of shifting her weight from foot to foot. And there weren't three little jumps, just two, and so on. I was getting angry and frustrated at my inability to keep up with all of the steps, when in actuality, I was keeping up. I was just overcomplicating things rather dramatically.

It's pretty much a metaphor for my life. I make things way more complicated in my head than they actually are in reality. I'll grant that some of this is what I call the ignorance of the newbie: all the moves look really complicated because I haven't mastered them yet. But often, whether it was when I was still in school or working at the bakery, I had an alarming talent for taking a simple task and making it really difficult. Then I would get stuck in that horrible cycle of berating and blaming myself for an inability to do a simple task, which slowed me down further, which made me hate myself even more.

I need to remind myself that most things aren't all that complicated. They might seem that way at first, but once I get going, I need to remember that things also get easier. That if I can quell my initial panic that I suck and I'm in over my head and I'm never going to be any good and holy crap, do I suck!, then I can see more clearly exactly what I need to do.

Of course, it's much easier to identify these things in a relatively meaningless dance class than in more important things like career and recovery, but I guess it's a start.

*The instructor this week was a sub--it was the male yoga teacher. His style was totally different, although the class was still good. It was, however, a total blow to my minimal self-esteem to see a large, hairy male be far more light and graceful on his feet than me. Sigh.

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Kate Peoples said...

I completely relate to this. I am always making things far too complicated and then I become frustrated with my inability to complete the task.

I stumbled across your blog about a week ago and have been reading through it. It has inspired me to create my own blog about recovery! I'm only in the early stages, but if my blog could help someone like your blog has helped me then it's worth it!

Take care.

Hannah said...

Zumba! Can I run screaming now? I've tried it a couple times and I was a disaster. The fun was found in laughing at myself!

Sarah @ Bearing, Eating, Being said...

I LOVE Zumba!!! I've found that the enjoyment really varies from teacher to teacher. The best teachers (like my fav, Susan!) frequently remind us "make it up! You're just having fun!" I hope you get further and further into just laughing at yourself and smiling, not focusing on getting it "right!"

Jessie said...

Just remember: Think of things in their most basic forms. Don't think that two plus three times two minus seven plus one equals four. Just think that two plus two is four. It doesn't need to be any more complicated then that.
Keep working towards recovery, you can do it!

saffy rats said...

I am tempted to try this now, despite my reservations due to my lack of coordination and fear of not doing it 'right'. I am just learning about how this illness is linked to my fear of failure and the simplest ways to fight it is to act. I'm going to check out classes near me!

HikerRD said...

I've learned that with the exception of spin (where I make my own changes in intensity only loosely based on someone's directions) I really don't like being told what to do in an exercise environment. Talk about a metaphor for life...

So great that you are so self aware! And that you are healthy enough to be exercising, something not to be taken for granted.

AiryFairie said...

When I tried Zumba I had to remind myself it was fun. I'd be shimmy-ing and wiggling my hips and trying to do the moves perfectly, only to realize my face was set in concentration. Over and over during the class I had to remind myself to lighten up, to enjoy it, that no-one was looking at me or critiquing me, and that it was supposed to be a laugh. Sometimes I make fun things way more serious than they should be.

CJ @ http://healthy-happy-whole.com/ said...

i love zumba. i actually wrote a post about it recently...how it teaches me to express myself, be comfortable around others, and a variety of other things. plus its about more than just exercise to me...its about feeling like part or a community since i go with the same women every week, wearing color again, and getting back to an activity (dance) that i used to love! im glad you tried it!!!

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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