Zumba – My 5 Year Anniversary

Or “Millenials and the 8 Faces of a First Zumba Class.

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since my first Zumba class and the start of this blog, where I related my first near death Zumba experience and opined my self concept of my first attempt was playing charades to the title “Drunk On an Electric Fence”. I guess because that class involved such a roller coaster deep dive into the most basic emotions of my lizard brain, I confess I watch newcomers to class with a psychological fascination. After five years, my completely non scientific observations of these first timers has revealed nothing unexpected EXCEPT for millennials. In watching these fairly standard reactions I confess to vacillating between feelings of comedic delight and glee.

I call these 8 faces: “overconfidence” , “making fun”, “fear”, “sweat”, “I’m going to die”, and “OMG I survived” and ” respect”. In order to set the scene, I must tell you the various ages of the participants so let me begin by saying that I think “age” in addition to body shape are the last acceptable forms of stereotype and discrimination in our country. Older first timers vary between three stages: fear, I’m going to die, and OMG I survived. There are some who run through each stage in even 20min cycles and rapid cycles, and some who go through each three in a four minute song, 15 times in one class. Having stared Zumba Death in the face, and lived, I feel compassion and support for my older Zumba sisters. But, millennials are different.

Being young, supple, muscular, and invincible, the arrive before class overconfident.

“Dancing for an hour??? Ppfffft, No sweat”. Pun intended. Then they look around the room, and you can see the look of judgment inch across their faces, like the look of disdain that races across a teenager when a parent says, “would you and your friends like to spend the day shopping with your father and me?”, as they realize everyone in class

Is OLD and then just as quickly, with furtive glances exchanged in milliseconds and maybe a whispered comment, they make fun of us old folks and how easily they’ll do in this class.

Minus the finger pointing of course. This is usually right before the first song and I restrain the smirk wanting to crawl across my own face. As we move through the first two songs, one of which is usually at least mid tempo, the second more of a warmup, their confidence continues but they’re recognizing that this is the most difficult game of Simon Says they’ve ever played and that they, like most people, they do not possess all the requisite talents to excel in Zumba – conditioning, stamina, rhythm, beat, fast paced mimicry and a glimmer of recognition that this is not so easy appears on their face. My favorite is about 15 – 20 minutes in when fear washes over them like a huge wave at the beach and they realize their heart is racing and air is harder to come by.

They sashay over to the side of the room to take a water break, and you can see their field of vision narrowing from the entire room, to their friend(s) they came with, now only concerned with the judgment of their peers. Having raised daughters, I may be taking more pleasure in this angst then I should.

The fifth face, which can set in anywhere from 25 – 40 minutes in (I readily concede these 20 something’s are pretty fit little buggers), which is “I’m going to die”,has a precursor face – “sweat”. Shortly after this

Comes this. When the first few measures of the last cool down song start, and they realize they have made it to the end of class,

They realize-“I survived”. There is no amusement park ride better than this sequence of faces, which has now become quite predictable. Comprehension for the young, vindication for the old. And the best part, if they come back for another week or two, is their attitude towards my Zumba sisters is


To every BADASS woman I know. And I know a lot of them.

2 thoughts on “Zumba – My 5 Year Anniversary

  1. I love it when they come back and realize we are a group of happy people doing something fun while learning new steps and making new friends. Most of us grew up going to dances, that was our social scene. The younger people today don’t do much of social dancing, and when they come to class I think it’s more the nervous feeling of being out of their element that gives them the giggles. That said, I love having a mix of ages and abilities and welcome all to try Zumba….Especially “our” Z class♡

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