The bright lights illuminating Southwest Recreation Center look impressive. I can almost appreciate the time and vast amount of money it took to create it, but the only thing on my mind is the idea of what’s going to happen after I enter its glass doors.
I’m not an athletic girl. Actually, I’m far from it. Even though I’ve always told myself I’d have the body of a Victoria’s Secret model one day, deep down, I know it won’t ever happen without some serious hard work. So it’s too bad that visiting the gym has always been the bane of my existence, which is why on Tuesday night, I had no idea why I said yes when my roommate asked if I wanted to attend a Zumba class with her at Southwest.
Not only was this the first time in a year that I had worked up a sweat, but this was also the first time I attended the Zumba class my roommate raved about. I was determined to see this outing as an adventure, one I would survive and thrive in. As I walked down the hall, fears of passing out or pulling a normally unused muscle ran through my mind. I refused to be deterred, though, and walked on, feeling the heavy drumbeats of the salsa rhythm reverberate in my chest.
Warming up and slowly getting into the tempo of the beat to Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” I started to think maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. The 50 people in the dance room looked excited, swaying from side to side, stretching their arms and legs, ready to break a sweat. No one seemed to notice my constant nervous glances around the room.
Walking toward the small stage was the instructor of the group — a slender, brunette girl with an easy smile. Let’s just call her Jenna. She jumped up on the platform and turned to the sea of people looking up at her.
“Okay, everybody! Who’s ready to burn some calories?” she asked the room.
“Woo!” was the response she received. Here we go, I thought.
“Alright! On three, we’ll march in place to warm up and then do a few sets to get us going,” she said. “There will be four sets of squats tonight, a bit longer than last time, but if you feel you can’t keep up, just go at your own pace.”
Squats?!? I didn’t get a chance to question the statement. Before I knew it, I was sashaying my hips side to side, jumping up and down, spinning and lunging my way through 30 minutes of a Spotify playlist full of Latin beats. I wasn’t the perfect dancer. I missed steps, got lost halfway through an exercise set and began to feel an ache in my legs that I hadn’t felt in a long time. When it came time for squats, I didn’t feel apprehensive. Instead, I challenged myself to hold them for the full two minutes.
But the end could not come fast enough. The cool down was, by far, my favorite part. It was also perhaps the part that made me the most sore. It was all worth it, though, because Jenna then gave us Hershey’s Kisses in celebration of Halloween.
After the intense workout session I had just put my body through, a Kiss couldn’t hurt, right?