Teaching an old couch potato new tricks

I was in a really bad mood yesterday.

There was no particular reason for it, really. I just felt like the whirlwind weekend (overnight trip + kiddie birthday party + lots of driving) had left me exhausted. I was craving alone time. I was swamped with work projects. I had to rush through errands in between preschool drop-off and Mommy & Me gymnastics. The kids were cranky. Darling Husband was sleeping all day after an overnight shift.

The perfect storm for Extreme Crankiness, really. It could have been a carbon copy of any shitty Monday from the last year or two, except for one key difference …

All day, I was looking forward to my 5:30 Zumba class.

I changed into my exercise clothes hours before I had to leave, because just wearing them — just KNOWING that the class was coming up — was enough to improve my mood. As I plowed through my afternoon workload, I kept checking the clock to make sure I stopped in enough time.

I ran out the door at 5:10, zoomed to my class, and spent a few minutes chatting with the other women while we laced up our sneakers. (If you’re a local, I go to Zumba with Heidi B, because she’s the absolute best).

No kids. No dishes to wash. No clients (I keep my phone in my bag, and refuse to look at it for 60 minutes, which is basically a big deal in my self-employed world).

At 5:30 sharp, the lights went down, the music started pumping, and I fell into my Zumba trance. I couldn’t think about work or the kids, because I was so focused on the instructor’s every move. That’s exactly the way I like it.

Actual video I shot of my class a few weeks ago

Dancing — or anything involving coordination — doesn’t come naturally to me, which is why I love the ability to do nothing but copy someone else. When her arms go up, mine go up. When she kicks forward, I kick forward. No thinking required, just mimicking.

At the end of the hour, I’m sweaty and loose. I feel so much better than I did earlier in the day. I’ve always heard people talk about exercise being good for stress, or being something they “can’t live without,” and I used to roll my eyes. I honestly felt like it didn’t apply to me, because, hey, I wasn’t an exercise person. I was a sitting-and-read-a-book-is-relaxing person.

I mean, I tried running (on a few different occasions) and that didn’t really work. But it turns out, wow, they were onto something?

Because lately I have been going to these hour-long classes three times a week without fail, and I feel like I *need* them. These classes have become a permanent part of my schedule — in bold letters in my beloved Google Calendar matrix — and I feel like I’m managing my stress better because of them.

I woudn’t say I’ve turned into an exercise fanatic, but I’m definitely a couch potato who has seen the light. Regular exercise is for us squishy types, too, even though I wouldn’t have believed it myself a year or two ago.

Now is it Wednesday yet? Because all this talk about Zumba has me itching for another class.


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