Move in a New Direction

I have been bitten by a bug.

The dance bug that is.

First there was Nia which is more martial arts-inspired than dance but there are elements of dance routines and music blaring during the class. Then from Nia came Zumba. I LOVE ZUMBA. It is the most fun I’ve had working out in a long time. I am dripping in sweat, red-faced and smiling at the end of class. I have never typed those three things in the same sentence before. Woah.

I have always loved dancing. Even as a kid, I took ballet, though I have no idea if I was any good. But I really did look adorable in my pink tutu. I used to choreograph dance routines in my bedroom. Sometimes my sister and I would put on shows for our family and friends. I was, of course, always the lead because I was born bossy. (Sorry, Dokey.)

But then I stopped dancing in public. I let body shame take away something that brought me joy. I worried too much what people would think of me if I was out on the dance floor. In my twenties, I took a few partner dance classes- like salsa and rhumba and swing- and enjoyed them but it’s not always easy to find someone you can dance with well. Like I said, I’m a strong leader and I should publicly apologize to all the men who tried to dance with me then. I will say though, my sister and I, we really could cut a rug. When swing was big back in the ’90’s we would go wherever we could to dance and we were pretty good.

So here I am, years and years later, loving dance again. Specifically dancing solo in a class full of (mostly) women to tunes that vary from Bollywood style to hip hop. It feels good to be in my body. Yes! I just said that! And I mean it. It feels good to move in this body. I don’t spend that hour looking in the mirror cataloging my body’s flaws. I’m too busy grooving. I’m too busy sweating and trying to keep up with the fast-paced routines. I’m too busy having a good time to care if I look fat. Because the reality is, I am fat. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy exercise, enjoy my body moving, be healthy and, goddamnit, feel sexy.

I saw this video and I’ve shared it out but I want to be sure you get to see it.

“Constantly worrying about your reflection and criticising your body, shape and size is an act of violence against yourself.” (Thank you, Feministing)

I want you to think about loving your body right now in this moment as it is. I want you to give it a try. Because if we all try? We will have a positive change on the debilitating negativity surrounding women and their body images. Do it for yourself. If you can’t do it for yourself just yet, do it for your daughter, your sister, your mom, your friend.

18 thoughts on “Move in a New Direction

  1. I have always considered myself a “dancer,” even though I never really had much professional training (just some classes through high school and college curriculum). I mostly hated high school except for the two months of the year where we rehearsed after school for an all-school dance show called Dance Kaleidoscope. I danced in the show every year for four years, and when I was a senior, I even choreographed a routine (to “Stray Cat Strut”) and got some front row placement in big group numbers. Some of the best times of my life. (I have my senior year show on VHS, too!)

    Finding Zumba and Nia now has been nothing short of amazing. It’s EXACTLY what I needed to get moving in the RIGHT direction. It may seem silly, but I’m constantly making up little Zumba routines in my head to my favorite songs, thinking maybe one day, I could lead a class, too.

    I’m so glad you’re enjoying it so much, too! If I lived closer, I would totally go with you to DU every week. If you ever want to try a different type of Zumba class (a little harder, I’d say), you should do a drop-in at Community Fitness. I think it’s just $10. (Less than DU, right?)

    Whatever happens, though, keep moving in this new direction. It suits you! 🙂

  2. I’ve always loved dance and I went to one Zumba class and totally got in my own way, mentally. This makes me want to go back. I love that Feministing quote, btw.

    Such a good post, friend. Love it.

  3. Hooray! This makes me so happy to read. And when I do finally come to Seattle one day, you have to take me to this Zumba thing. By then I should be the only woman on the planet that hasn’t tried it.

  4. I’ve been desperately wanting to try Zumba, but I kept making a multitude of excuses. Your post has convinced me to get off my ass and just do it.

  5. Love! I really want to try Zumba. I’ve had a huge fear of dancing in public my whole life. I never went to dances in high school, no prom. I was too scared. And then, I was always left out because I was afraid of the dancing at clubs. Good for you!!

  6. And now I’m picturing that scene in Girls Just Want To Have Fun where Sarah Jessica Parker is standing up in front of her new class at her new school saying, “I just…love to dance.”

    I fell back in love with dancing this year, too! And last year via Dance Dance Party Party, and it’s amazing, how wonderful and freeing and fantastic it feels! (And what a great workout it is, without my brain even realizing it’s working as hard as it is.)

    All of that to say: You’re a dance dance dancing machine. Watch you get down, watch you get down.

    ; )

  7. They offer both nia and zumba at school and I can take them for free since I am a student. I haven’t yet because I don’t want to go alone (and yes I know how that sounds). Maybe I’ll just suck it up and go.

  8. I love to dance and there is! a Zumba class her, but it’s held at the same time as my Boot Camp (which I LOVE), so I haven’t tried it yet.

    So glad you’re loving it. 🙂

  9. Thanks for the push to get me moving my body again post baby. I love Zumba and it is so fun to be with you.

    I love the mind change you are experiencing with your body. I can see it all over you – in your words, on your face, in your booty shaking on the floor. Inspiring. I am joining the club.

  10. I am so glad you found your love for dance again!

    My son loves to dance and wants to be on Ellen and dance with her. When I watch him dance, I see freedom and happiness. He doesn’t care if people see him, doesn’t care if the way he’s dancing isn’t perfect. I think it would be amazing to feel that way and I have tried to start catching myself when I doubt things about me. I wish it wasn’t something I had to learn, but at least I am working on it now.

    That video was amazing, thank you for sharing it.

  11. I keep hearing about both of these but haven’t actually seen them in person. Frankly, I’m not the greatest dancer and I don’t mean that in a not self-loving type of way. 🙂 But the video was great, as is Emma Thompson.

  12. This post made me so happy for you! How awesome to rediscover a passion that makes you feel so great mentally, physically, spiritually. I love it! I totally think exercise should be about fun. That’s why I hike.

    I’m a terrible dancer. I went to ONE dance/workout class once and my best friend laughed at me the WHOLE time because I was such a doofus. I do not have good command over my appendages and I am awful at following people’s choreographic direction. Total tard. You are so lucky to have rhythm and coordination!

    That video was awesome. Love Emma Thompson. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I love zumba. I’m finally at a point in my life (nearly 30 mind you…) that I’m beginning to care less and less about what people think. And zumba partially made me realize how far I had come. I dance my little ass off in zumba, without a thought to how I look. In the past, I never even would have entered a gym.
    Ooooh, how I love Emma Thompson. I love her interviews, her characters, her wit, and her all around fabulousness.

  14. I am a zumba fan too, you might even go as far as to call me an addict. It is th only exercise that I really love.

    However, last week there was a competitive zumba woman next to me who spent the whole class watching me and trying to beat me in speed and co-ordination. All I wanted to say to her was back off hon, this is meant to be fun. Kinda ruined it for me in a way. But instead I just smiled more, laughed more and danced more. 🙂

  15. I’ve been a little out of sorts lately and am usually not this sensitive, but this post made me CRY. The video completely did me in…

    I tried Zumba once because I have a friend who is a Zumba instructor and she’s bossy and made me come. Despite the fact that I have absolutely no coordination whatsoever, actually enjoyed myself. The upbeat music is definitely a huge bonus. Happy exercising. 🙂

  16. I started zumba-ing last July, having never worked out more than 30 minutes in my life. And here I am 8 months later still loving it and wishing at the end of the hour that there were more songs.

    I take it from the owner of Westlake Dance Studio, she is AMAZING! (thank goodness she teaches out in the sticks at her local church!)

    What I’ve learned is, if you don’t get motivated from one instructor, find another!


  17. Great video Sizz, thank you for sharing. I love to dance too and have been meaning to check out zumba. I used to go to a dance/exercise class in Caracas, they called bailoterapia (dance therapy), but it was at a gym and for exercising purposes more than therapy… but now that I think about it and view as you just did, dance can be a form a therapy, can it not? I’m glad you got back to something that brings you so much joy 🙂

  18. I fell in love with Zumba a few years ago. It’s a good, fun workout, and lets you pick out how much you want to work. You might also like Belly dance. I’ve been taking classes for 2-3 years, too, and really enjoy it. It helps you work on your flexibility – in a different way from yoga. I picked up on some things really quickly, but there are other things I still can’t do. Once you find a good teacher you won’t want to lead.

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