For those uninitiated in the latest dance/workout craze, Zumba is a Colombian Dance Fitness programme that was actually created way back in the 1990s. It combines aerobic and dance elements that form a rather unique, high-octane work-out.
The choreography incorporates hip-hop, salsa, merengue, belly dancing and martial arts movements.
I like to finish the list of influences with martial arts, as even for my liberated heterosexual self, this goes some way to redeem my ‘challenged’ masculinity.
Ridiculous yes, but absolutely necessary. Upon telling my work colleagues what I did last Tuesday night I suddenly felt like Billy Elliot and although my dance moves are currently less Ricky Martin and more Ricky Gervais, I wanted to jump on the table and shimmy my hips in defiance.
But I didn’t because that would have actually been weird as hell and a blatant disregard of health and safety measures.
Instead I tried to justify what I did. “Guys,” I said in a gruff and suddenly confrontational manner, “Bruce Lee was a Cha Cha champion before he became a martial arts champion.”
Yet sniggers and smirks continued unabated, I pressed on, “It’s an awesome work out!” Indeed it is, with the average Zumba dancer burning over 800 calories per hour. It is also great for working every part of your body as, whether the attendees know it or not, the movements incorporate traditional squats and lunge movements, which means that every part of your body benefits.
Sensing that I was not succeeding in allaying their blatant homophobia grounded in archaic notions of gender-based sports and exercises, I gave up and just said, which is perhaps the most relevant, “It was fun.”
And it was... I like dancing and consider myself a pretty good mover (albeit in a David Brent sense) and so I had a great time. It was good music (hip hop, reggaeton, salsa) and I genuinely enjoyed dancing to it.
Nobody takes it too seriously, people are dancing with smiles on their faces. No particular clothes are required, despite a colleague thinking that I had to wear a leotard. It’s all relaxed, good clean fun.
Now I come to think about it, it’s a hell of a lot less homoerotic than a bunch of guys in singlets dripping in sweat, grunting their way around the gym and ‘spotting’ each other.