Somewhere along the way I turned into a stereotype. I’m not exactly sure when this happened; I just know it did. Sadly, I have become the stereotypical, middle-aged, fat woman who can’t dance.This epiphany came about a week ago. I blame the entire sordid mess on a trendy exercise thing sweeping my community called Zumba. Go ahead and call me a Zumba hata, and don’t bother me with Zumba-ish success stories or testimonials on how many inches of belly fat just melted away because you cha-cha-cha-ed to the Zumba god. It’s all beginning to sound rather cultish to me.My week started rather innocently enough. My exercise instructor, who I have known for several years and considered to be a friend, landed a Monday night Zumba teaching gig. I put on my cleanest exercise attire and drove the eight miles to attend her first class to support her.About a half dozen other would-be Zumba neophytes showed up, but all that shaking, rattling, and rolling didn’t bode well for a middle-aged fat woman with back issues. No siree, Missy. I can blame some of my failure on a slipped disc, but I can’t really explain why some of the Zumba-ites can make their behinds jiggle one way while their upper torsos glide in the opposite direction. I swear it’s as if they were channeling Shakira herself.
Nor can I explain why I travel to the right when everyone else jingle jangles to the left, or why my body heaves forward when everyone else hippity-hops backwards. Hails bails, it spins my head right ‘round. Forget about the Dove Self Esteem Fund for teen girls. How about a little Dove Love for non-dancing stereotypes like me?What makes this entire realization even more painful is that I have actually taken dance lessons before - ballet, jazz and tap. In fact, I still have my tap shoes to prove it, and in a box stashed somewhere in my house is a VCR tape of a dance recital. I know it’s all rather hard to believe.When I whined about this Zumba debacle to my lunch buddy, she leaned forward just a bit and in a whispering voice (apparently intended to soften the blow), stated rather matter-of-factly, “Carol, perhaps you never could really dance to begin with.”My angst was compounded the next day when my exercise instructor announced she was abandoning our little independent exercise group to teach classes at the Zumba studio. “It’s not about the money,” she said.Yeah, right. I think she was going to start with the Can’t-We-Still-Be-Friends speech, but I left. I just didn’t have the stomach for it. Or, in my case, I guess I have too much stomach for it.So now I have to find another place, but this time, I won’t make the same mistake of trying to build friendships and muscles at the same time. Lesson learned.I’m fairly confident I can find a suitable place to work off those extra pounds. Now if I can only figure out a way to shed the stereotype as well.