I just got back from Zumba class at the cheapo gym. I wasn’t the oldest, and I wasn’t the fattest. It was more like an aerobics workout with an leader who could actually keep time to the music. (You would be amazed at how many aerobics instructors can’t keep time. Like it is elevator music in the background.) But I may have been the only one wearing dance shoes. I got them because they are required at the other place I take Zumba.
Last November in a OMG-my-birthday-is-in-a-month moment, I signed up for the “$100 for all you can eat in a month” at the expensive, tony Pilates studio called, ahem, Tone. I am so cheap, I got my average per class cost down to less than $5.
It is run by a Phillipina who sets the Tone. She is not a natural beauty (which is how they describe Michelle Obama) but her energy is irresistible. She looks 40ish which means she is 50ish, her long black hair flying like a witch when she leads Zumba. The room is packed. Max occupancy is 40, she squeezes in 44 because the receptionist and the other teachers want in also. Monica is a dance-and-movement teacher and the owner of the studio. I took her 6 a.m. Yoga class on New Years Eve (20 other women were there) and the class was held in the dark with a cluster of candles in the center of the room. This weekly class has 3 weeks of normal wakeup yoga and the fourth week is restorative (so totally feminine witch). This was the restorative and it was held in near silence, in the candlelit midwinter dark. Monica gave a quiet sermon about the end of the year and the start of a new one, renewal of spirit, renewal of love, renewal of commitment. “Joy in everything, all the time. Take a candle when you leave.” Talk about setting the Tone!
But Monica’s Zumba class is full of energy. Sherisse works for Monica, she also teaches the Pilates class at the cheapo gym and at city Park & Rec. Sherisse is black as ink, wasp-waisted and highly trained in dance-and-movement. She was at the front of the class along with her dreadlocked friend, also with a dancers shape. The Zumba class had some Latin rhythms, but many hip-hop songs as well. I tried to follow the moves, and the other white ladies didn’t look much better than I did, but Sherisse and her friend — wow! It all made sense when I watched them dance. Yes, they are trained dancers, but when they did the “urban” dances my eyes popped. It was so beautiful and strong!
I was in the back of the crowded room, trying to be invisible, but I was under the skylight and the beam of noontime sunlight illuminated my, um, blonde hair. In the mirror I could see that I looked radiant and dumpy at the same time. Halfway through the class, Monica paused between songs and waved to me, “Hi, Anet!” she said.
Frankly, I’d rather be invisible. But the energetic music really boosts my mood. Monica has set up Tone as a dance-and movement studio so the floors are bowling alley perfect, hence the requirement for clean dance shoes. Most of the people spend most of the time on the floor doing Pilates and Yoga, so the floors and mirrors have to be impeccable for the experience to be spiritually nutritious. So that is why I have dance shoes. And why Monica’s class is so popular.