Thursday, September 3, 2009


I learned something about myself today. I'm not sure yet how to put it to words. I'll write and see what comes.

This morning at 8:30 am marked the beginning of my fitness instructor career. This might be a bit prideful considering it is only a humble beginning, but either way, I made my way to the gym where I applied to teach Zumba classes. If you don't know what Zumba is, you can indeed google it, but I fear that in doing so you will get the wrong impression. The website makes Zumba look like a hip-hop party with sexy people doing sexy things. Let me clarify, Zumba is a Latin twist on cardio, Latin-Jazzercise if you will. So while the website may portray rock hard abs, spotlights, and 1,000s of exercisers, let's remember I live in Nebraska.

I've been putting off using the teaching accreditation I earned and feeling nervous about my first class for several reasons. Reason #1: I doubt that I am good enough. Reason #2: I'd much rather take the class than lead it. Reason #3: I'm not fun.

Let me correct myself, I am not that fun. I am not the life of any party and wonder if I can keep anyone motivated and having fun which is basically what a fitness class should do.

It felt like my first day of school, I'd say, 5th grade; where you're new and while you like school, suddenly the weight of the world is on your shoulders in regard to, Oh my gosh! What am I going to wear? Wardrobe wasn't such an issue this morning, but nerves were. What if they don't like me? What if I say something stupid? What if I mess everything up?

As I paced back and forth between the locker room and the fitness room, locker room, fitness room, no one was arriving. This was a regularly scheduled class, I was just taking over. By 8:36 am, no one had come. Part of me was relieved and part of me wished someone had shown up, just so I could get my first class over with. As I headed for the locker room, a 30ish woman came running in out of breath, "Am I too late?"

", I guess not. It's just the two of us though. Do you still want to?" I asked, somewhat hoping she'd say: Nah. But she didn't.

"Oh yeah. I'd like to."


While I appreciated her excitement, a cardio class just isn't the same with one person, in fact, if you've ever done so, it's downright awkward. I doubt I can fully give the experience justice, but in a regular class with several other people, the focus is less on you. I found that I was explaining myself, trying to make it less awkward and smiling and fake-laughing way too much. I remembered most of the steps, worked up a sweat, and she was appreciative and easy to work with. Still, I just felt, ick.

That was NOT fun.
That was NOT something I want to do EVER again.

Yeah see how quickly my rational mind kicks in? I'm a person of extremes.

So I showered. I went to my my classes at school. Most of the day was spent thinking, I hate Zumba. This was a bad idea. I don't want to be an instructor. Is it too late to back out?

The class director at the gym called in the afternoon asking if I'd fill in for the hip-hop teacher who was sick.

Umm, hell no! was my first thought. But somehow, "Sure" slipped out.

As I was wallowing in my disappointment with myself, my inadequate skills as an instructor, and all-around blah, I realized I didn't want to feel this way all week until I taught my next Zumba class. So if there was ever a chance to try again, this was it.

I was not looking forward to going back. All I wanted to do was go home, be grumpy, and eat peanut butter and jelly. I didn't want to repeat the morning's bad taste in my mouth, but I did.

I did and it was marvelous! I shook my booty, rolled my hips, jumped up and down, and had a grand ol' time. Four women showed up for class. They were easy going, relaxed, and seemed to have a lot of fun dancing their stress away.

As I compared the two Zumba classes, I tried to sort out, what exactly made this morning's first class so miserable for me? Well, obviously trying to create the energy of a good class with only one person was tough and exhausting. Having more people this evening was a huge difference. The pressure wasn't as much on me. I just got to relax, dance, and enjoy myself. I didn't master every step. I left 'em hanging in places and stumbled over words in another. Still, it was great.

I think I learned another one of those lessons I'll be learning for the rest of my life: I am who I am. I cannot give circumstance the power to decide who I am or how I should feel.

Today, my friend Sierra reminded me, in the words of Anne Lamott, "Perfection is the voice of the oppressor."

Whoever that "oppressor" is on a given day, me or some one else, they will scream the need for perfection until I either give in or boldly proclaim, "I am who I am." Even if it's a whisper, even if it's a cry: I am who I am.

I may show up for Zumba class to find only one woman next week, and the next week, and the next week. I may only get by with a C in anatomy and physiology by the end of the semester. I may hurt someone's feelings. I may only come to rolling stops at stop signs. I may give an entire speech in class with broccoli between my teeth, my skirt tucked into my underwear, and enough fumblings to anger even a football coach. I may offend someone by accident. I may stay in on Saturday nights. I may play in the rain when it storms. Whatever it may be, I am who I am.

My situation has not power nor debilitating influence on me, unless I hand it over. I can choose to react positively to my environment. I can take deep breaths.

I can choose to be who I am and shake my hips with equal gusto...
regardless of who shows up to class.


Anonymous said...


that means "tru dat" in greekish

Carley Brown said...

I laughed! thanks for this blog.. and if you think your not fun I dont believe you :)

Carley Brown said...

I laughed! thanks for this blog.. and if you think your not fun I dont believe you :)

Michael said...

Oh snap, I love a good last line!

"I cannot give circumstance the power to decide who I am or how I should feel." That was another one of my favorite parts. Besides the story in general. Is this a co-ed class or just women?