In late February, I made the decision to leave my long-time job, in which I worked various shifts that fluctuated weekly, plus weekends. For years, I was unable to commit to classes and structured activities – for myself and my children.
So when I made the change, ecstatic at the prospect of having free weekends – at least for a while – I immediately searched for an activity or class my six-year-old daughter, Chloe, and I could do together.
I soon found and signed us up for a family Zumba class at our local gym. Chloe was very much on board, excited to try it out.
Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in the 1990s. It involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music (J-Lo’s Let’s Get Loud, MC Hammer’s Can’t Touch This and Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae) are among my faves), while the choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo moves, including squats and lunges.
And it is quite the workout, as Chloe and I learned at our first class.
We had tons of fun planning and preparing for our first joint activity, shopping together for cute workout clothes, water bottles and running shoes; totally excited, but not sure what to expect.
I was thrilled about having the opportunity to do this with her; I felt sure this would be a great bonding opportunity for us, as well as the obvious physical benefits. I also thought, and Chloe believed as well, that it would be super fun.
So during our first class, Chloe and I struggled to keep up with our instructor, exchanging amused glances from time to time – but only occasionally, as we were working hard.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I watched myself flail wildly, missing steps left and right. I always thought I had a natural sense of rhythm and flow and would pick up the moves quickly, but wow, that idea few out the window.
Still, I was moving and working it, and that’s what it’s all about, right?
Then I would look over at Chloe, looking adorable in her purple floral exercise outfit with matching scrunchie and seeing her giving her best effort to follow along, and truly engaging – for a few songs.
Soon, she had to take a break, and spent the last half of the class sitting on the floor watching me and sipping water, as I staggered through the remaining songs.
We’ve been attending class faithfully for five classes now, and we’re slowly and surely getting better! The other week, Chloe made it though the entire hour-long class without taking a break, and she was extremely proud.
The other day, we had a new teacher, and she shook things up a bit – and as I write this, my legs and thighs are aching. But it’s a good aching.
This is our new routine, our thing we look forward to every week. It’s tough, but so rewarding: this time we’re having together, the laughs we’re having, and it’s hard to describe how good it feels to move and dance freely in a “judgment-free zone.”
I can tell it is good for her to know that we can carve out this special time together, after so many years of me not being available to do this sort of thing. And it’s been amazing for me.
The other day, as Chloe and I gave our all to the “Nae Nae” hip-hop dance, it occurred to me that this is truly the joy of my weekends. And if that’s lame, well, that’s just fine by me.