How Going to the Gym for a Full Semester Made Me a Better Person (and How Badly I'm Going to Miss Bobby's Zumba Class)

Usually I’m an extraordinarily lazy person. I know most of my friends don’t believe that since I’m involved in several organizations on campus, and I’m always taking too many courses in order to graduate on time with a double major, but it’s true. I really am extremely lazy, and I know that because more often than not I find myself spending four to six hours a day chilling on my bed binge watching entire seasons of random nostalgic shows on Netflix. Now that’s fine if it’s a one time thing because you’re stressed out, but my family can vouch that I’ve been doing that since elementary school, and honestly that’s the reason why I’ve always been out of shape and my butt’s been as flat as a board. I kind of get away with it because I’m a tall person, and I was honestly fine with that for awhile. I wasn’t okay with my lazy behaviors going into second semester of junior year, however. I hated their effect on my body image. I desired to change that and I also wanted to find a healthy way to reduce my college stress level, and actually get myself to exercise more often besides just walking around campus.

My decision to start going to the gym this semester resulted from my desire to change my ways, and be a healthier person at least once a week. And if I somehow got my butt to be less flat from it, that’d be an added bonus. Knowing how lazy I am, I was sure that my resolution would fall apart by Week Two, and it probably would have if it weren’t for my friends. From talking to them about my goal in passing, I learned about Zumba classes at the Rec Center, and they invited me to come along with them to a session to see if I would like it. Since I love spending time with my friends, I knew that going with them would be the perfect incentive to get me to exercise, and I signed up with them to take Bobby’s Zumba class that week. 

The first time doing Zumba, I looked like a giraffe on roller skates. I had trouble picking up a lot of the moves and I was awkward when I tried to do them, but overall I had an amazing experience. That was because I soon realized that no one in the class looks at you when you mess up, and I focused instead on having fun as I danced to the music and laughed at my bad moves with my friends. Bobby’s enthusiastic energy and awesome song selections made the class even more enjoyable, and I was motivated to push myself to try harder due to his passion for Zumba. I remember asking my friends after the class when his next session was, and they laughed and told me that I should come with them when I can to his classes on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

From that point on, I signed up for one of Bobby’s classes with them whenever I could, and I actually looked forward to coming to the Rec Center to do Zumba for a hour a week. Some weeks I got lucky and had a light workload and extra curricular schedule, and got to come to Bobby’s class twice a week. I couldn’t believe how much I wanted to spend time working out, and I realized that taking Bobby’s class with my friends didn’t feel like working out at all, or at least what I thought working out was going to be like. I believed exercising was all blood, sweat and tears, not just moving your body around to music and having fun while doing it. I began to tell anyone I could about the class, from my other UMass friends, to my fraternity brothers, to my fellow fashion directors for Sisters on the Runway. I wanted everyone to get to experience what I was experiencing if they wanted to; I wanted them to similarly realize the joy of taking Zumba and how exercising can actually be both fun and fulfilling. Some of my amazing fraternity brothers of Phi Sigma Pi signed up and came to Zumba classes with me, and we had such an amazing time and I love them dearly.

I’m very proud to say that I’ve been to Zumba every single week since the start of the semester. That’s such an accomplishment for me, and I’m taking away so much more than just getting my lazy butt off the couch. I’m becoming a healthier person and I’m strengthening my relationships with my friends and brothers, but I’ve also become a happier person by doing Zumba. Taking the class has become my activity to destress, and I always walk out after a class feeling so much more relaxed than I’ve ever been. I get a sense of peace from the activity and it’s almost therapeutic; in that hour, I don’t care about all the assignments I have to do, the tests I have to study for, the events I have to plan, or the obligations that I have with work and internships. I’m purely focused on doing the right thing by myself and helping myself to appreciate life and the joy that you can take from it. I can’t thank my friends and Bobby enough for helping me to have that, and for that I’m extremely grateful. It crushes me that Bobby’s graduating and I won’t be able to take his classes next semester, but I know that there are still amazing Zumba instructors at the Rec Center who will similarly help me to be a healthier person both inside and out. On top of that, I’m also proud to state that a semester of Zumba has toned me up to perfection and now I’m looking hot. I still have to work on my dancing skills, but that’s the goal for next semester! 

Photos: 1, 2, 3

All other photos courtesy of author and Lizzy Thidemann, brother of Phi Sigma Pi and all around amazing human!