I remember my very first Zumba class clearly, because to be honest, it was pretty embarrassing. Everyone else knew all the moves to the songs by heart, while I was just trying to move in the same general direction as the mass of people so I didn’t get run over. As foolish as I felt, I couldn’t help but notice how much fun all the regulars were having. They either had a giant smile on their face or were lost in their own dance world throughout the whole class.
I decided to give it a second shot the next week. Six years later, I am a dance fitness addict and even am instructing a weekly WERQ Dance Fitness class. For someone who hates running and working out at home or in a gym, dance fitness has given me a way to exercise that I look forward to every week and that I hate to miss. To be able to experience this within the community of a class makes it feel even more like a party.
Here are my 6 tips on how to survive your first Zumba class:
#1: Bring a friend who is also inexperienced at Zumba. The first time you go is the most intimidating, so bringing a friend who you can laugh with can help ease the introduction.
#2: Don’t expect to catch on to more than a couple moves during your first class. During my first class ever, I considered it a win to get the hang of just two moves on a simpler song and I think this is how I kept up my motivation to keep going. You will learn a little more each time you go and when the muscle memory kicks in, you will start learning even faster.
#3: Stick with one instructor at the beginning. Instructors usually keep a good amount of their playlist the same for back-to-back weeks so that participants can learn their choreography. It can feel like starting over if you go to a different instructor’s class, which could be a little too challenging for a beginner.
#4: Just look at the feet if you don’t know where to even start. I remember being mesmerized by my first Zumba instructor’s graceful hips and I utterly failed at trying to mimic her swaying while also coordinating the arms. I felt overwhelmed, so I tried to just follow what she was doing with her feet, and it worked! By getting the feet right, eventually, the hip-swaying followed naturally!
#5: Modify any moves as you need to. If jumping makes your knees ache or makes it difficult to contain fluids in your bladder, try squatting instead. You can also ramp up the exercise by getting lower and putting your whole body into it with your own flair.
#6: Just keep moving! Let’s face it, you came for a workout, not to become a master Latin/hip-hop dancer, so focus on letting out some energy and getting in as many steps as you can. The people around you are going to be focused on either watching the instructor intently or admiring themselves in the mirror, so you really can dance like nobody’s watching and that would probably actually be true.
Brené Brown wrote in her book The Gifts of Imperfection that “dancing is being vulnerable with your whole body.” If you are looking for a chance to be courageous and experience joy in a new way, a Zumba or WERQ class is a safe space for you to express yourself through movement with a bunch of other brave people.
Photography by the author of this post :: Raisa Mnichowicz