I have been going to a Zumba class for quite some time now – enough time for me to have a ‘spot’ and to be able to chat with one or two others who prefer to dance at the front. I like the class – it is just enough for me to do to feel like I’ve done something. I also like the music, well most of it. There are a couple of tracks that I am not keen on – they aren’t rhythmic enough for me – I do like that Latin beat.
I was there last week and was slightly miffed that I had been nudged out of my favourite spot – at the front, nearest to the doors that get opened once we’ve warmed-up. Fair enough – it is a friendly class and no harm was intended. I wasn’t going to get into fisticuffs about it. At least it gave me a chance to observe someone else doing the moves. Being at the front every week means everyone can see me but I can’t see them.
Once I’d got over the shock of being in a different part of the room I noticed the woman in front of me and how she didn’t seem to be giving it her all. I know better than to judge but sometimes I just can’t stop the internal commentary – this was one of those times. There may have been many reasons why she didn’t want to or couldn’t move anymore than she was doing. In her world what she was doing might have been ‘giving it her all’ but to me it looked a bit lacklustre. Why pay to come to a dance class and then not dance? That is when I got envious. There she was, this young, thin woman wasting the opportunity her body gave her to move. To move freely, without getting too hot and sweaty, without a knee complaining or an arm aching. I learnt late in life that I love to dance and regret I didn’t do it earlier, before my body rebelled. Even though I know that neither youth nor thinness equate to health in quite the way society tells us it does – she could be riddled with arthritis which impedes her mobility – I was jealous.
I was jealous of the casual way that it did not appear to matter to her whether she was moving energetically or not. For me, and I take full responsibility for my own thoughts, it is important that I be seen to be having a go, trying my best, doing my utmost in terms of movement, exercise and life generally. I realise I force myself to contradict the stereotype of an older woman who is fat and lazy. And yet this woman didn’t appear to have any such qualms about needing to prove she could do the routines. There I was shimmy shaking, stomping and generally getting on down whilst she was barely moving.
Imagine then my reaction when she said she was cold with the doors open. I don’t know how I stopped myself from yelling along with KC and the Sunshine Band. Shake, shake, shake. Shake your booty!