Pj's Zumba instructor Mary after class

Even after a strenuous Zumba workout – Mary looks great!

At the beginning of the summer, I decided: It’s Time.

I wanted to find something to do exercise-wise to get me into shape. (Although, to be fair, for anyone that has ever taken geometry – round is a shape.)

My goal was to find something that I was willing to do three times a week and that I wouldn’t hate.

I tried Aquafit. It was fine but, honestly, the biggest workout for me was wriggling into my Slim-inizer one piece bathing suit.

I tried Yoga and then someone thought that Hot Yoga would be the thing. NEWSFLASH:  if you ever want to punish me – make me do yoga and when you couple it with extreme heat, you transform it suddenly from boring to boring AND annoying.

I decided to give Zumba a try.

Here was my rationale: Zumba was created by a Colombian guy named Alberto “Beto” Perez. I have a Colombian cousin. They use Bollywood music. I have a cousin who was born in India. They turn down the lights on the Monday night class and use a Disco ball. I was a Disco baby! (A natural fit on all fronts!)

It has turned out to be the fastest (and most fun!) hour of any of the days I go. The last time I found a way to exercise to music was during the unfortunate leg warmers, aerobic shoes and “three more, two more, take it to the top” days. Zumba is way more fun.

On my first class, I channeled my inner Tessa Virtue not knowing what to expect. I was hoping against all hopes that none of the long leggy blondes with the crop tops and rock hard abs and swishing long hair from the videos would be there. Never mind. It doesn’t matter because I gravitate naturally to the back of the room. Let’s face it  with all of the shaking going on – nobody should have to be behind me and witnessing ‘all that’.

I consider myself to be a relatively coordinated person but I have to say that the Zumba choreography isn’t easy. You have to give yourself some time to learn the steps. There’s a lot going on what with the arm movements, fast steps and the hips. I want to say one thing about the hips. I am a “nice girl” of a certain age who grew up in a time where any real intended movement located between the neck and knees was not encouraged. In fact the last time I moved like this was in about 1990. (We all know the ending of that story: he’s almost 22.)

Back to Zumba.

I have been going to Mary’s classes  (www.zumbaspirit.com) and one of the things I like best is that she is encouraging without making me feel anti-feminist if I don’t want to move like a Pussycat Doll. Not that there is anything wrong with the Pussycat Dolls – but I am busy enough with the writing and the coaching and the CBC-ing that frankly I don’t need any more pressure!

I was intrigued by Mary. People know her as Zumba with Mary. What was her story?

I was looking to improve my strength, agility and my balance and with the quick tempo of the music and the choreography, I feel like I am on my way. You could be too. Don’t be scared and if you are come and Zumba in the back row with me.


*******   P.S. *******

As fate would have it, I had a random conversation with a fellow Zumba-er and was touched by how she feels that Zumba has helped her. She mentioned having emailed Mary a testimonial and I asked if she would allow me to put it here. Thanks Elly!

Hi Mary,

How Zumba (and Mary) has helped my depression: 

I first heard about Zumba almost  a year ago when a neighbour asked me to go with her

to a Sunday class. My lack of enthusiasm must have shown on my face so she then explained that

it was a great way to enjoy exercise and music. Like a dance party. She did not know that

I wasn’t much of a joiner as I was suffering with Grief Depression at the time.


The idea of doing a little dancing to music did appeal to me though as I love to dance, albeit in

my own quirky way. So with just a little more coaxing I agreed to go. 

I would like to say that Zumba was more then I expected, more then I could imagine. It

was amazing.

It became one of the things I looked forward to going to several times a week for many reasons. Yes the aerobic type

of exercise is known to help depression, but the music was energizing, happy, with a latin dance rhythm that

really made you want to swing your hips.


The atmosphere is fun and accepting, like a bunch of girls going out to dance but without the hassle

of needing a partner. We do not compete, we smile and laugh and sometimes Mary will even get us to 

sing. One might even hear a few loud whoops when things get heated and the music carries

us away.


I was also invited to another Zumba class at a friends club and it was similar to Mary’s Zumba

class – but yet different. It was then that I knew why this particular Zumba class was

so good for me. It was simple. It was Mary herself.


Mary brings a consistent positive attitude to every class. She is fun and motivating, kind

and encouraging, energetic and cheerful. She is a very special person in the way she seems

to make everyone feel welcome, in the way she casually displays pictures of herself when

she was not in shape. Only Mary could get a group of 30 women to yell out

‘Ole’, and ‘Opa Gangam style’, when we really don’t have a foggy clue about these


Mary always has something nice to say to everyone. I feel non judged, safe and

at home in her classes.


The results, for me,  over the last year have been great. I have lost a few pounds, am now a size 8, and

more importantly, my depression is much more manageable. Thank you Zumba, but mostly –

 thank you Mary!