''ME? No way. Forget it.''
''You want to do El Amor? Or maybe Zumba He, Zumba Ha?''
''I don't think you're listening, Sameer - I'm not doing it.''
''El Amor, then...''
''Here we go...guys, guess what? Yashodhara's taking a song today...''
At my peak pregnancy weight when I was carrying the twins in 2010, I had reached the whopping figure of 85 kgs. Up from my regular weight of about 60 kgs - and no, even twin pregnancies don't justify that much weight gain. After the twins were delivered via C-section, I had to have another surgery due to some complications - and had to go slow on any form of exercise during the recovery phase. Even after I was given the green signal to go full out, no matter what I did, the last 8 extra kilos just refused to go away.
I don't quite know what made me look up Zumba. I just happened to Google for instructors in Delhi, and happened to chance upon the number of a young man (okay, he's my age, I'm young!) named Sameer, whose classes I ended up joining - and sticking with for months and months, unlike with most other forms of exercise that I have taken up over the years.
It was Sameer who noticed that I was so intensely focussed on the workout that I actually had learned the dance moves by heart. And one fine day after a few months, he put me up in front of the class and made me take a choreography. And yes, it was indeed 'El Amor, El Amor', one of the Zumba classics.
It was a real high and soon I was taking a couple of songs in each of Sameer's classes and picking up techniques from observing him - and enjoying myself thoroughly in the process. The nicest part about Zumba is the crazy music; high-energy thumping, pumping music and easy-to-follow but varied dance moves.
After some months, I dropped out of Sameer's classes, when I was undergoing some existential issues and stuff at work, figuring I needed to try giving this up for a while to focus on other things - but found that I was actually feeling worse-off while I wasn't doing Zumba, even though I kept up with my Yoga practice. And then last November, it was Sameer again who called up to enquire where the hell I had been and suggest that since there was an instructor training in Delhi, being taken by ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) Lucas Mthenjane, flying in all the way from Africa, I might as well bite the bullet and go in for my B1 (Basic) License.
As is my wont, I Googled up on Lucas too, and when I saw how a few of his videos, I thought, ah, what the heck, I'll do it - his martial arts background and flawless movements were nothing short of impressive, after all. An intense two days of training in the four basic rhythms (Reggaeton, Salsa, Cumbia, Merengue) that make up a Zumba class followed. And just like that, I had my license.
Now, what was I going to do with that license? I decided to try and figure out if people were interested in a morning batch in my colony - Sameer was already taking the evening one, and he's a tough act to follow given that he's superbly energetic and a trained dancer with a background in Ballet, Salsa ( and currently runs a large and vibrant organisation called the Delhi Salsa Club). I thought it would be great to get some new people in. And they trickled in, one by one. Those who had seen the enthusiasm of the earlier batch; those who were curious about this new form of dance-fitness; and those who were just fed-up with being unfit and wanted a solution.
It's working out well. I take 3 classes a week - 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 7.30 a.m. on Wednesday. These timings work very well for me - well, the Wednesdays causes me to miss time with the kids before school, but that's just one day - but they don't interfere with an actual work-day in any way. It's a great workout for me and one that I push myself harder for because there's a class, now consisting of several people. I've become leaner since I started in November and continue to take great pride in how regular we are with it - last week, one of the ladies said 'Thank you, Yash! I'm fitting into my old clothes now' - her pre-pregnancy clothes! That was quite a kick for me. The ongoing Raahigiri festival is a temptation especially since the Delhi Salsa Club Zumba Team ( now consisting of 5 people, including me) is the one taking the Zumba sessions on Sunday morning; but I've been carrying on with my Sunday classes in my colony anyway. I figure I'm a little shy anyhow, given how new I am to instructing and prefer doing this thing with a select group of people I can focus on for now.
So that's it. It's a beautiful, fun, simple and highly effective form of dance-fitness and if you're looking to find a workout you can stick with - I strongly suggest you try and check out a Zumba class with a good instructor near you. We're all over the place now! It's a mega industry by itself, and for good reason. I hope it weathers various storms and continues to grow because if it means more and more people are getting fit, enjoying some music and feeling happy, how on earth can that be a bad thing?
P.S - If you'd like to take classes with Zumba@DelhiSalsaClub, you can call Anuj at 98997-71415.