Saturday, August 2, 2014

Why I hated my first Zumba class

... and how things turned around!

I always tell new students I hated my first class.  Not to scare them away, but to warn them - Zumba can be frightening.  The class regulars know the routines inside and out.  The instructor is pushing you to jump higher and shake faster.  And if you accidentally shimmy into the wrong person's official spot on the floor - forget about it.

I walked into class thinking it was going to be super fun, and I was wrong (so I thought at the time).  The moves felt tough to pick up and everybody else did everything perfectly in rhythm - stepping, clapping, yelling ZUMBA at just the right time. 

I just couldn't understand how everyone else knew what to do but me.

On top of that, the instructor was a great dancer but she was the in-your-face, suddenly-doing-the-Beto-shuffle-right-behind-you type.  I was especially unprepared for that... I mean, close contact with another human being who you don't know while you're sweating and trying to nail a pivot turn - not for me.

So I stopped going.  It took about 4 months for me to work up the nerve to try again.  And, I found a few instructors who I loved (shout outs to Teresa and Monica!) and everything changed.  Zumba became the workout for me!

If you or someone you know have had a traumatizing first class experience, here's some advice:
  • Try, try again - every instructor is different (VERY different) and there's definitely someone out there for you.
  • Ask questions - talk to your gym staff and check out local Zumba studios to learn more about instructors' music preferences and styles so you know what to expect.
  • Dance without the drama - If you want to dance to stay in shape by dancing but just can't do the fitness party scene, try continuing with salsa classes or something like piloxing.  And, then try Zumba again - because you just might fall in love with it the second time.


  1. Jen, members at ROK Health & Fitness thoroughly enjoy your classes; we are so fortunate to have you on our team!!!!!

    Jill Sumner-Markowsk
    Group Exercise Director
    ROK Health & Fitness

  2. I think you missed an important one under "ask questions" - talk to the INSTRUCTOR too! Especially if you're new to the class, go introduce yourself, let your instructor know if you have injuries or limitations, and don't hesitate to ask about their style and what to expect!

  3. Hi Jen, I didn't realize members practiced the choreography each month. No one explained anything! I had to really concentrate. I still can't believe I stuck with Zumba those first months. Our current instructors make PSA'S for new members because they will be shocked at the speed of the class.
    Ray Marrero at

  4. How true that all instructors are so so different, it's what makes Zumba so unique - there is always an instructor for everyone!!