Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Close your eyes and picture this. Actually don’t close your eyes, because then you can’t read. BUT. Dust out the cobwebs and fire up the old imagination.

You’re in a room. Some sort of tribal/African music is playing. People are yelling out Russian-style “HEY!”s. A Hispanic man is cheerfully yelling out instructions to you. You are sweating, surrounded by mirrors, and don’t know how you got yourself into this. The Hispanic man cups his hands to his ears and the Pavolvian response of everyone in the room is to yell out “WOO!”, thereby completing the entire room’s transformation into a series of Woo Girls.

Welcome to Zumba.

It’s true: last week, inspired by Annie’s foray into the world of dance fitness, I casually wandered into the group fitness room at my gym, trying to act like I TOTALLY BELONG HERE, and stuff, and oh what’s that? We bring water in here? I knew that, totally knew that, let me just loop my way back out to fetch mine and nonchalantly rejoin the group. Look around, we are stretching and chatting. Okay, I don’t have anyone to chat with, but I can stretch. I’ll just… there, yep. That arm is done. Feelin' good!

Then the most glorious thing happened: our instructor entered the room. His name?


Again: IT'S TRUE. In my tiny Texas town, there exists a short Latin gentleman named Javier, sporting white dance pants and a tiny black tank top that spells out ZUMBA on the front and INSTRUCTOR on the back. This man, with Demitri Martin’s face and Bob Dylan’s hair, is going to teach my Zumba class.


The first song that plays is a super hip hop-y dance version of… something Latin. Javier demonstrates a few slightly complicated dance steps in quick succession, and luckily I am not the only one who is already lost, thanks to sister girl standing in the back row with me, my sarcastic counterpart who is AWESOME for not wasting any time in commenting, “Yeah, I totally got all of that.” Me: “Right? I’ve memorized every step already. I’m ready to teach.” LET ME LEAD, PEOPLE.

In between songs, Javier yells out reminders to the group of what steps we learned last week (!!!!) and what we’ll be doing for the next number. “Remember, nex is rye, leff, rye, leff, then one two three, one two three. Yes?”

Of course, the only response that is acceptable for Javier is of the “WOO!” variety, and the whole room cannot help but indulge him.

After a few songs I start noticing a super tiny, SUPER skinny girl with a delightfully perky ponytail a few rows in front of me, who performs each movement with the kind of energy and pep and super loud and high pitched WOOs! that makes you want to smack a person inspires the whole room. Seriously though, isn’t there always one in every class like that? Whenever I started to get tired I would fantasize about marching up to her, grabbing her by the shoulders, and yelling “YOU’RE NOT BEING GRADED! YOU ARE NOT JAVIER’S FAVORITE! CALM YOURSELF, WOMAN!”

If I were one to do that sort of thing.

The whole experience was like something out of a sitcom, not to mention insanely energetic, totally over the top, and completely ridiculous.

I loved it.

Sidenote to Javier: I am a white girl with zero dance skills. My shoulders do not shimmy like that, and my hips DON'T MOVE LIKE YOURS. Stop asking.


~lady j said...

I'm so glad you had fun-- and Javier?!?!? I LOVE it! :D

it is by far the funnest way to have your sweaty ass handed to you. :)

Amanda said...




I love you, Val! I can totally picture this. You're a fabulous story teller! I missssss Zumba! I have 0% rhythm or movement when it came to dancing, but thanks to the 4...thats FOUR...60 year old men, with socks up to their knees, busting out every move that wouldn't break a hip...Well, no one noticed me!


hootenannie said...


Oh man. I so wish we lived in the same city so we could Zumba our asses off (literally) together.

This was the most glorious blog I've read in ages.

Katie said...

HA! What a great post. Made even more glorious by the fact that I would have wanted to slap that perky girl too.

More Zumba adventures! More!

Lauren said...

Believe it or not, I actually know this Javier of which you speak. From my time in Garden Valley. Oh, what a small world. He used to lead our 5am mandatory work-outs. And I'm pretty sure he led my hip-hop dance team for a while.

That's right. I was on a hip-hop dance team.

Valerie said...

@Lauren- No. Way. You know Javier??? That's so funny! Small world indeed.

And hip hop dance team? Too good to be true. Might we read a blog about this sometime in the future? ;)

Lauren said...

@Val - I'll look into it... I might even have some video lying around.

Ally Plummer said...

you're hilarious! I wish we could take Zumba together! It hurts my knees though.

Stevox said...

Maybe that's what all the Hispanic people are doing at the Y on Wednesday nights. Seriously, it is impossible to get a parking spot on Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

HA! Thank you.

Joey said...

The Lord bless you and keep you.

Alex said...

Haha I can totally sympathize with you. I have a hip hop abs tape that my roommates and I do, and I fail miserably to resemble anything close to a coordinated person whenever it's brought out.