Zumba – a Form of Mindfulness


I took a Zumba class. Yes, that’s right, Zumba. I had dismissed the notion of this class before, thinking only seniors took this class, or people who don’t take real aerobic classes, and even thinking this is for women who just want to do silly dance movements. I was in the group that took cycling classes, weight lifting classes, and yoga. We worked our muscle groups, we got breathless, we strengthened our pecs.  One day I went to get a drink from the fountain. The studio door was open and I heard fun, lively music. I looked inside. Hmmmpf, that could be interesting.

And there I was later that week in a sea of all ages of adults, both sexes, and a range of skill. I was at the low end. I could barely keep up with the Samba steps, the hip-hop pelvic thrusts, the Mambo movements and the pony. I love to dance! But this class put me in my place. That class is now on my desk calendar and entered in my phone as a weekly event, to avoid scheduling appointments that conflict with the class time. After each song, some people laughed or clapped or let out a whoo-hoo. There was so much positive energy. I love it, I need it.

There is so much talk and concern related to mindfulness. The roots lie in Buddhist meditation, and yet these days it’s a popular concept.  Just like acai berries and echinacea and vitamin C, these days the catch word and catch-all remedy is mindfulness.  The idea of being aware, of being focused on using active attention to the present moment. The mental energy open, the benefits endless.

In Zumba, the class time is exactly 55 minutes. There is no time to goof off. I cannot let my mind wander during class. I need to position myself right behind the instructor. As she gets the music going and adjusts her mic I apologize to my neighbors: sorry, I am such a spaz, just want you to know! They smile politely in return, their feet have started to tap, their hips already wiggling. I’m not skilled enough to look at the mirror’s reflection and translate for my left and right feet. I watch the instructor’s feet like they are highway signs announcing upcoming exits. I don’t want to miss it!  I think some people are naturally inclined to follow choreography, to turn off their thoughts, to take in visually the movements and replicate. I lack that gene. In Zumba, I am moving. I am operating my limbs. I am not actively attending, I am clumsily receiving.

We take two steps to the right, then one to the left, thrust out our chests and swivel our hips. Repeat! I quickly stole a peek at myself in the mirror.  I smiled back, yes I am having fun. I look around. The instructor has moved on.  The class is sashaying towards the front. Ooops! Sorry, I was just lost in a thought.