Last night I attended my first Zumba experience at the Ailey School through the Ailey Extension program. The music started at 6pm, and by 6:15 I had started counting down the minutes until 7. But it wasn’t because I hated it—in fact, I loved everything about it—but because it was so, so challenging. The moves were hard to keep up with, the patterns changed quickly, I struggled to coordinate my arms and legs (suddenly I had about 8 limbs), and did I mention it was non-stop for an hour? Talk about serious cardio.
Casie, who also instructs hip-hop and street jazz on the Excel in Motion dance convention, led the class. She brought a funky hip-hop twist to the hour, which I definitely appreciated. I could take the moves to a club—and once I actually learn them, I could look a lot less dorky on the dance floor. (Or I could bring some of these basic hip-hip inspired moves to a kids' jazz or hip-hop class if I'm ever subbing...) When I look for another Zumba class—one that's closer to my apartment—I want to find an instructor who also has a flare for hip hop.
What I liked most was this class was full of adults ready to sweat. Adult dance classes in NYC tend to be for slow beginners, and the more advanced open classes are during the day. Moreover, those advanced classes are often packed with pre-professional teens. So not only is space limited, the teachers cater to the young students looking for technical advice (as they should). But I want a workout; I don’t always care if my thumbs are exposed or if my retiré isn’t high enough. Yes, there are many benefits to taking pure dance classes; for one, it’s crucial to stay fresh and connected to technique in order to be a better teacher myself. Yet the bottom line is that popping into a ballet class does not give me the same cardio workout as heading to the gym.
But the gym is a snooze-fest!
So I highly recommend Zumba. I went from skeptic to believer in 60 minutes, and cannot wait to go back. I’m also planning to get some cool dance sneakers. My running shoes were OK for the first time, but I definitely would want to go back with sneakers that have smooth soles (made to glide on top of dance floors so you don't twist your knees) and more metatarsal cushion. I’m putting these, by Bloch, on my wish list. Hope to see you in class!