Bison Rec Review: Zumba

Zumba has been everywhere lately — I’d heard about it from a couple of other sources, like Cyclovia and pole-dancing people I know, so naturally, when I found out that Bison Recreational Services offered a class in it, I was eager to check it out for the Manitoban.

The classes seem easy enough for a gym to facilitate — it’s Latin-inspired, dance-inspired exercise, requiring little to no equipment — but I think my expectations were a bit off. Having been a dance-class kid since I was a toddler, I’m pretty used to rooms full of people doing the same moves to music, being counted in, watching a teacher do a sequence of steps and then having to repeat those steps back. Having spent a few months in Cuba in 2007, I feel more comfortable than most Canadians seem to be about shakin’ what their mamas gave them, and understanding some of the many different ways in which one can move one’s hips. Being a drummer, I like rhythm, and prefer to do things to a beat, and can adapt quickly to different steps and combinations.

This class should have been everything I was looking for, right? Piece of cake, right?

This was not a dance class. This was a Zumba class, which at Bison Rec is more like the jazzercise videos my mom used to rent when I was a pre-teen, with better music and worse rhythm.

The first class wasn’t off to a great start as the headset of the instructor was dead. So rather than having her voice amplified she was trying to talk over the music with her back to us, and so I mostly had to watch and repeat. This added to the confusion when she would complete a sequence of steps that were not quite on beat with the music, and say that now it was our turn to do it. If someone (or pretty much everyone) was confused, she would do it again, except she would do a variation of the steps — not easy for first-timers, or anyone, to follow. To be fair, with better ability to hear what the instructor was saying, it would have been easier to hear her count off and explain the steps.

The problem with having a six-week long class that bills itself as a dance class is that six weeks is not necessarily enough time for someone new to get used to the style of movement. This class seemed to be less a dance class, and more a class about general movement/aerobics, so it is good for people who need a kick in the butt to get off the couch, and are maybe bored with the track or need some guidance to get moving. Had I been more aware that this was not an actual dance class, that there is no way you would use any of the Zumba moves you learn here when you go out to the club on the weekend, and had I thought of it as less “Latin dance,” and more just “to Latino music,” I would have liked the class a lot better. So, if you are reading this, and thinking about taking this class, now you know.