I’m not a huge fan of exercise. It’s just never been a release for me. I know some of you out there get a “runner’s high” and things of that nature, but that has never happened to me. And trust me, I’ve tried. I finished a half-marathon in March and no where in those 13.1 miles did I feel any sense of euphoria.
[The closest moment was when I smiled at mile 8. And that was it.]
But I have finally found an exercise that doesn’t make me totally miserable.
Now listen, I’m not a great dancer. Let’s take that a step further- I’m not a dancer. But something happens when I walk through the doors of my YMCA and head to Zumba class. A little piece of stress falls to the floor with every treadmill I pass. By the time I’m standing at the group exercise room door, the day’s worries are gone and I can already hear the bass of the music. And I want to dance.
Sure, the first time I went was intimidating. I thought it would be a bunch of salsa-dancin’ professionals. It wasn’t. It was normal girls like me. And by the time the second song began, I was having a blast.
I know God calls us to care for our bodies- and I don’t think He cares about the size of our jeans. I think it is about health and wellness- physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’m learning that something happens in my heart when I exercise with joy.
Two friends and I went to class together last night. As we carpooled to the gym, each of us shared the heaviness of our Monday. A recent breakup that won’t evaporate, a new company that brings a lot of responsibility, roommate issues, and the Monday normals.
But Zumba is more powerful than all of those things. It’s the moves, the dance, the music. It’s that moment when you can’t tell if it is sweat pouring down your face or maybe a few tears sneaking from your eyes.
I needed Zumba last night. I needed to feel pretty and strong and free. There was a moment, somewhere right in the middle of Shakira singing “This one’s for Africa!” where I felt completely free.
Zumba does that for me.
Maybe it was the movements- arms flung in the air, body spinning in circles quick enough to cause a cool breeze, head thrown back. Or maybe it was the song [that’s a great song]. But everything else fell away and I spun around and I danced and before I knew it, we had been in class for an hour and it was time to go home.
As we drove away, all three of us sighed in relief. Not because Zumba class was over, but because of all the good that had happened in that hour.
I’m not one to wax poetic about exercise. For that matter, I’m not one to exercise. But Zumba has become something different for me.
It’s a release. It’s an hour where my mind is clear and my body is moving and my heart is happy. I think this is what exercise is supposed to be.
. . . . . . . . . .
What type of workout have you found to be good for your body AND your soul?Leave a Comment
Southern Gal says
Good for you. Now I must try Zumba because the running for me is just as you described.
I love Zumba! I started doing Zumba last September and I have lost 41 pds. I have an amazing instructor who is known as the 1000 calorie girl. All of my friends are zumba girls and we love our YMCA! I absolutely recommend Zumba to everyone because not only does it work…it is super fun!
Beth Pederson says
Here’s my favorite and what I most love about Sati class is that my daughter teaches the class.
It involves my body, mind (what I am saying in my head) and spirit and I believe this to be the spirit of Chirst within me
A practice for your body, heart and mind. “Inten” derives from “intention”, and “Sati” is a Pali word which means mindfulness. IntenSati is an exhilarating workout that builds physical, mental, and spiritual muscle. Courage, confidence, willpower, enthusiasm, self-respect, and a strong, healthy body are all results of this powerful practice. And YES – it is also tremendously fun!
IntenSati is about bettering both the quality of your inner dialogue and of your physical training. IntenSati combines high-energy, total-body training with powerful, positive statements that you speak aloud.
IntenSati moves are simple. They are a combination of exercises from aerobics, kickboxing, yoga, and dance. IntenSati is the practice of remembering that if you want to live a life you love in a body you love, you must start loving it now!
A combination of this workout and your book: fom head to foot are the best forms of exercise for my body mind and spirit. Thanks for putting your thoughts down on paper for others to read!
Excellent choice. I’m similar, excercise is not my go to. I love to be outdoors, I love to play sports, so that’s always helped keep me moving and healthier than not, but the gym isn’t my happy place. And running gives me lung spasms and headaches just thinking about it. 🙂 I am not a runner and can’t seem to join that bandwagon.
But my good friend began teaching Zumba a while back, became certified and has enriched our lives with how much fun it is! I’d never done it before Michelle began. And I really enjoy it too. It was a very intrigal portion of achieving a personal weight loss goal I had last year. I felt the healiest I’d ever felt, largely in part to Zumba. So you’re not alone. It is one enormously fun activity. And you don’t have to be a dancer, you don’t have to have perfect rhythm. “Just keep moving” and have a blast. 🙂
Hats off to you Annie!
I love Zumba too! No matter what kind of day I have had, I *always* want to go. (This would be in great contrast to every other form of exercise). I never feel as strong or as sexy as I do in Zumba class, and that is great for my self-esteem and body image. Thanks for sharing! And P.S.–I *love* that song too!
Geri Kelly says
I feel the same way about my swing class- totally free and filled with joy…
Holley Gerth says
Girl, I wish I could be in Nashville to Zumba with you! I’m actually typing this while I’m on my exercise bike at home. If I distract my brain it seems to forget what I’m making my body do!
Beth Williams says
Haven’t tried Zumba yet, but I lift weights and walk at least 2-5 or more miles daily.
Love to dance and would love Zumba.
Congratulations on doing Zumba – anything for that matter. Staying healthy is very important.
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
I love this, Annie. I have tried to become a runner this year, and it has – so far – being quite the failure. But I love dancing. So I signed up for a jazzercise class that starts in about a week, and I’m really excited! I really think we have to do the activity we enjoy,not what others TELL us to enjoy. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. 🙂
Okay, I’ve gotta try Zumba. Exercise has always just been a chore for me – I want to want to do it, to really enjoy it – but I haven’t found that niche yet that makes me say “Yes!”. I ran my first 5k in December – and as hard as I worked at wanting to be a runner, I still hate it! Zumba will be a new experience… I’m intrigued!
Annie, that song was the official World Cup song for South Africa last year and it does the same thing for my soul. And for my boys. They’ve been known to keep it on repeat for hours and dance till they can’t hardly draw breath any more. Love Love Love. And I was just walking by a place offering Zumba this evening…hmmm…maybe I should try it….
Rachel Tatem says
Zumba is so much fun! Dancing in general but zumba keeps you moving!
I love Zumba! I take a dance class one day a week and walk most of the other days. We own a treadmill and exercise bike, but there’s something about being outside that makes exercise that much more enjoyable!
I’m hoping to find time to take a Zumba class this summer!
I love to dance… hate to walk… this could be good for me!
Missy June says
I enjoy all modes of walking, but my complete release is found when I get to hike in the Smoky Mountains. I’m so glad we live nearby!
Beth Werner Lee says
Scottish Country Dance for me!
It’s got three components: the basic steps, the movement of the dance, and the raising your head and smiling encouragingly to the other members of your set of 6 or 8.
There’s no words to the music, it’s jigs and such, and in our Boston classes we had live music, piano and violins mostly but an occasional bagpipe that really got us dancing well!
I’m with you, it’s hard to find a sport that I’ll do for exercise. Bowling and sailing aren’t quite aerobic, are they?
Tessa Dixon says
Zumba is awesome!!! been missing it the past few months… when this baby is born I am going to get right back into Zumba class!!!
I hate to exercise. Seriously.hate.it. But I do it because I feel great afterward. Because I don’t really like to yell at my kids and exercise calms me. Because I enjoy chocolate too much.
I like to walk. Walks are fabulous. But I have five kids…. power walks with five kids don’t happen as often as I’d like.
I’ll have to try Zumba. Is there a good DVD for this (I live in a teeny village in Eastern Europe and people look at me funny when I talk about exercise)?
YES!! I had my third class last night!
I’m not a dancer, I’m not even graceful. I look as awkward as I feel when I dance, but when I go to class. I just let go, I dance, sweat pours out and all the while I’m smiling…
as I POUR SWEAT!
My hips don’t sway left, my feet get confused, and I can’t get my bottom to move like that, but it is so good, and so fun. I don’t care.. I just dance with silly, sweaty, unrestrained, abandon.
Mukarabe Makinto says
I confess that I have not heard of “Zumba” and thin is my first time to respond. From the reading it looks like Zumba is helpful for those in need and that’s great! I am a long distance runner, I love to hike and I find myself closer to God when surrounded by His creation which speak of His Beauty and how much He loves me, a tiny piece of art, compared to vastness of the ocean or the tall Mount Whitney I climbed few years a go. Yet He created me in His own image!!!
Now dancing is something else-I was born dancing and I danced my whole life but before the wrong audience, in night clubs-not what you think. I just loved going out and dance in night clubs. Then finally God redirected my path and I surrendered to His ways in 2000 and for awhile I could not dance at all until He unschackled my feet so I could dance before Him. He gives me new moves and sounds as intercessory prayers for whatever He wants to do in me or for the people around me. Ladies, pay attention, He might be giving you new ways of (in)encourag-ing others with your new found dance! Go for it, dance before the Lord the way David danced for Him! Break forth in dance for victory like Miriam did and enter your promised land.
Remember nothing the Lord does in only for our own gratification or feel good-we are the feet and the hands of Jesus on earth, therefore we must occupy until He returns. May He finds us dancing before His glory!!!
Thank you for encouraging us.
With you in His Service-Mukarabe
I’ve never enjoyed running either and that’s why I don’t try. I tell people I don’t believe in it:) But I could hike or dance any day of the week! Best stress relievers ever.
Living the Balanced Life says
I am trying to get into running. I have been walking some but want to kick it up a notch. I have taken a Zumba class and do love it! I felt awkward at first then I realized nobody was watching me, they were all trying to keep up, lol!
Strategies for a holiday weekend
I will have to give it a 2nd shot. I tried once and for the life of me could not figure out how to get my top and bottom to go in opposite directions, but all of my girlfriends absolutely love it and try to get me to go every week. You know it must be good when there are at least 3 churches offering classes within a ten mile radius of my house.
I did buy a Gazelle (hubby calls it the Tony Gazelle) for $15 at a garage sale and so far that’s pretty fun
OK. That seals it. I’m trying Zumba. I’ll report back. : )
I love Zumba! I have been going since April, wow, what fun! I plan on keeping it up. It is a treat for the mind, body and soul!
Jeanne Damoff says
I actually love to exercise and am addicted to endorphins. I’m also a professional choreographer, so I expose myself to as many forms of dance as I can, and Zumba is my favorite work out, bar none. Like you said, an hour flies by. It’s just SO MUCH FUN! Good for you inviting this community to “ditch the work out and join the party!” 🙂
I’m the same way. I never enjoyed exercise(otherwise I’d have kept up with it and wouldn’t weigh what I do now :/ ), and have always ended up in pain that didn’t feel anywhere near as good as people say it feels, and I’ve tried walking, exercise bike, regular biking, elliptical, treadmill, machines, and various classes.
I saw a Zumba commercial late at night one night and decided to buy it, but I have yet to try it. The sticks are cool, though. 😉
Now my mil is coming to stay with us on the 3rd, and I’m afraid to do it because I’m afraid I’ll look dumb in front of her, and she’s very critical of everyone and everything, but I decided that I’m going to start on it next month anyway, June 6. I decided for my 22nd anniversary, I was going to spend the last half of 2011 getting slim and sexy again. 🙂 Who cares what she thinks?! My house, my right to look totally ridiculous here, if anywhere, right? I love to dance, so I figured it was God’s plan for me to find Zumba. 🙂
Devoted Fitness says
Annie! I loved reading your blog today! I live North of Nashville, and am a former Zumba instructor myself. As I taught my Zumba classes, I began weaving in some of my favorite Christian music, and in August of 2009, I created a women’s dance/fitness ministy…Devoted Fitness. Our slogan is actually “group fitness for your soul!” Needless to say, when a friend forwarded your post to me today, I had to grin as I read your entry and all of the comments to follow. In the last year and a half, we have trained more than 30 instructors in 11 states and continue to stand in AWE at how rapidly God is growing the vision of Devoted Fitness. Our classes are an hour of cardio to some slammin’ Jesus music, from artists such as Israel Houghton, TobyMac, Mandisa, Nicole C. Mullen, Lecrae, etc. You get the idea. 🙂 You can follow me on iTunes PING to get an idea of the playlists we dance to in our classes. I burn over 700 calories every class that I teach. We worship while we workout, we pray together after class, and we keep up with each other during the week…far more than an hour of exercise. I can be dripping in sweat and yet covered in chill bumps from the presence of the Holy Spirit. We now have a Facebook following of approximately 3000 fans and growing, a YouTube channel, Twitter, website, monthly newsletter, and I hope to begin blogging soon. Maybe you can give me some pointers there. 😉
In answer to your question, I choreograph, lead classes, and train others in “group fitness for your soul”…Devoted Fitness, and I am personally inviting you and anyone reading this thread to come to a DF class, on me. Full class schedule located on our website. http://www.devotedfitness.com
Let them praise His name with dancing. ~Psalm 149:3. Peace and Love, LaRae Puckett, M.S., Exercise Science, Devoted Fitness founder
Your classes interest me. I don’t believe you have any in Canada but I’ll have to poke around your site a bit more. Thanks for sharing.
Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight says
Yeah, for me its running…not for some ‘runner’s high’ – but because when I’m out there, all alone, amidst the Aspen trees & Pines, breathing in the high mountain Colorado air, God Speaks. Something about the rhythm of one foot in front of the other empties me out, clears my brain of distractions & worries, and I can hear the Holy Spirit.
Amazing!!!!!!! I LOVE Zumba!!!!!! I only discovered it about 6 months ago, but it’s a fab class and I totally understand what you mean about feeling free. There’s something about the class where you just have to throw away your insecurities and just shake in time to the music – it’s good for confidence, developing dance ability and great fun! Thanks for posting xxx
Kim Trick says
Annie, You spoke right to my heart with these lines: “I know God calls us to care for our bodies- and I don’t think He cares about the size of our jeans. I think it is about health and wellness- physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’m learning that something happens in my heart when I exercise with joy.”
I love that! God used a major illness in my life to teach me about wellness and how to honor Him with my body, and ever since then I’ve been super passionate about it. I love eating healthy and taking my vitamins. But I’m sooo bad at exercising when I don’t have someone standing next to me making me do it. It’s terrible. I’ve found that sometimes I like yoga and sometimes I like biking and sometimes I like chatting with my sister on Skype while I do crazy moves with 5 lb weights, but I still don’t *love* doing it. I think I’d LOVE zumba!
I always thought it sounded super intimidating, but you may have just inspired me to get up the guts to check it out! That’s so exciting that you found such a fun way to let go and feel great at the same time!
I love Zumba too! It is one exercise that I can do without killing my knees. (I’ve had two separate knee surgeries, one recently.} But, yes! The feeling after is so great and dare I say….my outlook and up-look too! Thanks for sharing Annie.
I’ve never tried zumba before. It sounds fun! I love the energetic feeling I get after exercising. I always feel so much better about myself and my day. It is such a great way to release all the stress and just do something for myself.
I love Zumba! I have never been able to stick with any form of exercise, but this year I did the “Couch to 5K” program and found that I actually enjoy running. But I still have to force myself to get out and run much of the time. With Zumba, I look forward to going! I love the music, the fellowship with other women, and the 60 minutes flies by while I get a great workout and actually have fun. I highly recommend it. Don’t worry about not being able to do the moves (I am very uncoordinated) — the more you go, the easier it becomes.
I haven’t tried Zumba yet but I’ve seen a couple videos of it. It looks like a fun, great way to get/keep in shape. There are no classes offered in my area so I have been working out to a belly dancing playlist I made up from Youtube videos. Right now I’m using this one – http://www.youtube.com/playlist?p=PL42E16B8060FCE656 – I do the four first videos once per day, not every day but as often as I can. Once they no longer challenge me, I’ll add in the next two. Maybe I’ll take a look at some Zumba videos and try it out with a playlist like I am with belly dancing.
Mukarabe Makinto says
Hello dear Devoted Fitness Founder,
Are you anywhere near the South Bay in California? Dancing before the Lord while taking care of our bodies, the “temple of the Holy Spirit” is awasome and I would love to join and maybe be trained to train others. Dancing is a powerful intercessory prayer tool. Please let me know where you are located in SOCal.