Tag Archives: Zumba

Yoga: In Which Zumba Might Have Some Competition

31 Aug

I’ve really been sinking my teeth into my new gym membership at Oasis. The classes are knocking my socks off. The last two weeks I’ve attended classes at least once a day, sometimes even twice – especially when the classes line up back to back. (Totally want to give a huge thumbs up to the fantastic childcare Oasis offers. Such a plus!)

Last Friday I hit up my first Yoga class. The instructor was a roundish through the middle, tiny older woman, who had legs like a teenager. She walked around the class room and just chatted with us like we were her kids. At one point, I thought for sure she was going to offer me some chicken soup and ask if I married a good Jewish boy. If Dr. Ruth was a yoga instructor from Chicago … well, you get the picture.

I’ve only taken a couple of yoga classes – in my life. Twice in Jerusalem at the local YMCA, early in my pregnancy with my daughter, Zoe. And then again, when I was pregnant with my son, Noah – I bought a prenatal yoga DVD (that I loved, but didn’t do often enough).

Simply said, I’m a novice. But a little pat on the back for me, I kept up pretty well with the others in the room. Downward dog is fantastic – and my new favorite resting position: head upside down, staring right through my thighs, focusing on my breath. Dr. Chicago-Ruth-Yoga-Genius even had us attempt the Crow pose. I gave it my best shot. I got both my feet off the ground for about two milliseconds.

Crow Pose

I liked that class so much that on Saturday I took another Yoga class. This one was faster paced and we moved seamlessly from one pose to another. Our instructor was a younger woman with a lovely Spanish accent. At the end of our class, while we all laid on our mats – the music soft, the lights low – our instructor came by to each of us in the room and gently massaged our feet, our ankles and our calves.

I was so moved by this gesture. I felt a little vulnerable, too. The instructor’s presence and touch reminded me of my work as a doula. Except I was on the receiving end for a change. For some reason, at the end of that class I wanted to cry.

On Tuesday night I took my third Yoga class of the week, Vinyasa flow. Holy smokes! I had no idea what I was in for with this class. The instructor, a peaceful, short-haired, muscled woman, really had us breathing, moving our bodies, and “connecting with the Divine” she said. She asked us to center our focus on what we needed from our session and for the week. Strength? Peace? Love? She encouraged us to take it in with our breath.

Honestly, I haven’t plugged in to God like that in a long time. Vinyasa flow was compelling and moving. It brought in the physical element of worship/meditation in a way that you can’t often experience in a church sanctuary. This connection of mastering your body (of engaging your core – both physically and emotionally), while you master your breath and your mind offered me a holistic, healing, and spiritual experience.

At the end of our class, our instructor came to each one of us and gently touched us, just like the last class I attended. (Is this a Yoga thing?) This instructor massaged my shoulders and neck. Surprised with myself, I was fighting tears, again. That tenderness of a woman with a gentle spirit reaching out – breaking the social ‘no touch’ norm among strangers, and connecting with me was beautiful and soulful.

I had a doula client who told me I reminded her of her Yoga mentor. I never quite understood her connection. How could being a doula be anything like teaching Yoga? But in the moment, while I laid on my mat, at the end of an hour-long session where I pushed my body to the far reach of its abilities, in that quiet and tender space of softening my body and connecting to my breath, I understood what she meant. Suddenly, my client’s compliment made perfect sense.

All in all, folks, it looks like Zumba’s got some competition with Yoga. I liked trusting in the strength of my body – something required of you as you commit to each pose. I loved how strong my body felt after each session. I enjoyed how each instructor brought her own charm to the class. I appreciated how connected I felt to my faith while practicing something physical and demanding.

I’m not sure which one will be my new favorite six weeks from now … I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

While doing a little reading this evening (ah, I have so much more space for that now that I’m not spending time on Facebook) I came across this cool couple. He’s a musician and she’s a yoga instructor, and he plays live while she leads a class. What they’re doing is really special and hip, so check them out: Go W/The Flow

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Zumba: In Which I Laugh While Shaking My Boom Boom

23 Aug

As part of project Get Joy’s groove back, I’ve picked up a membership at a ladies-only gym. The monthly fee is a little steep for us, but it’s month-to-month, there’s no sign up fee, no contract, and no hidden towel washing fee (I just made that up). Plus, the gym is a five-minute car ride away and the locker room looks like a spa. Beyond all of that, the monthly fee is (in my estimation) still cheaper than Wellbutrin.

You know how I am on this thing about exploring my soul? (Read here) Well, when I reflect back on the times when I was the most happy with myself, when my outlook about life was the brightest, it was when I was working out like a nut – at a gym.

I love how the harder my body works, and the louder my heart pounds, the cleaner my brain feels afterwards. Working out is a huge filter for my negative emotions.

There was a time when I would go straight from work to the gym every night for at least an hour or more. And. I. Loved. It. But now, as a mom of two little ones, time at the gym feels like an absolute luxury these days.  Let’s not kid ourselves, it is a luxury.

I mean, the last time I gave myself regular chunks of time to work out was when I had a trainer back in 2007. She kicked my tuckus into the best shape of my life. I had muscles that you could see, I mean really see!  (Proof: would you just look at my shoulders in this photo. Rawr!)

Toned arms: proof that it’s possible.

All of that said, last night I did it. I spent two hours at the gym and it was AWESOME (insert jazz hands and DJ Lance voice right here)! I attended two classes in a row, Cardio Sculpt and Zumba. It was fantastic, and no, I’m not being sarcastic.

I’m really into group classes. I enjoy the energy and the feel that comes from a room full of sweaty maniacs working out together. I’m also motivated by the instructor making sure I push myself – which I don’t really do that much of when I work out by myself.

Also, as someone who spends their entire day around two little kids (that I love), being in a room stuffed to the brim with fun, savvy ladies makes me feel like I’m hanging out with friends for a few hours. What’s not to love?

But seriously, can we talk about Zumba? The room is packed, blazing with energy, and pounding with thumping music. The instructor is gyrating in ways that I’ve only seen on MTV.

Here’s the cool part, she’s my age, (nothing like attending a gym class and the instructor is a so far from your reality that you lose your morale just by looking at her) she’s hilarious, and she’s bringing her awesome Zumba moves with a huge side of sexy. I’m totally inspired by my instructor, and I want her to be my friend. I’m think I’m going to leave a love note in her locker, for real.

The sad truth is with only two classes under my belt I’m so not even remotely close to knowing the Zumba routines yet. I’m that girl who is two steps behind the entire class trying to perfect my “drop, shake, and shimmy” while everyone else is already merengue-ing down the room. Yeah, okay, it’s not that sad, it’s actually hilarious (except if you’re standing next to me in class – then it’s annoying).

You know what though? Sometimes in the middle of the dance routines, I’ll just stop and laugh at myself. These days laughing this hard feels just as good as shaking my boom boom, if not more.

Honestly, I’m getting hooked.

Do you Zumba? Do you love it? Any tips for a newbie like me?

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