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We were facing the unthinkable prospect of two weeks without Zumba. We were sad, forlorn, disappointed, but not all that surprised. Our local YMCA has remained open through some pretty hefty renovations in the last several months, but decided to close completely for a couple of weeks to finish up some major steps in the process. 

Katie swiftly compiled a list of area classes and shared it with the rest of us on our handy email list. Some of my friends took advantage of the classes being offered at other branches, but I was feeling overwhelmed by the thought of going to a new place where I didn’t know the instructor or the nursery staff on a different day than I was used to. That makes me sound really crotchety and lazy, but for these and other reasons, I had resigned myself to taking more walks for a couple of weeks in stead of trying something new. 

That’s when Jae came to the rescue. Out of the sheer goodness of her heart, and maybe a little bit out of pity for the lost puppy looks on our faces about the closure, Jae organized not one, but two impromptu classes at the local community center to fill the Zumba void in our lives. She could have just let us fend for ourselves and enjoyed a little extra time to herself for a couple of weeks, but instead she did this for us on her own time. 

The first day there were sixteen adults and seven children. The kids mostly stayed over in the corner, playing quietly with the toys we had brought in the hopes of occupying them for close to an hour. The mothers formed a kind of child-herding wall around the kids, which worked for the most part. My son Ulysse, however, was much more interested in watching the real action than in playing with the other kids or toys. He was determined to stand in the middle of the room for a good chunk of class time, looking around and occasionally “dancing” with me or Suzanne, his adoptive Zumba grandma. Luckily, almost everyone present already knew him and they were all good sports about his unpredictable movements and reckless toy firetruck driving between the rows of dancers.  

Ulysse loves Zumba, too!


Today was even more chaotic, but thank goodness no necks were broken from tripping on wayward children or rolling water bottles. Everyone got the chance to dance with a toddler or two and it was generally a great time. Even so, it’s a good thing the Y is supposed to reopen on Tuesday. It was great fun for Ulysse to come to class, but after worrying something would happen to him or someone else because of him, I have a renewed appreciation for the strict no young children policy in group exercise classes. 

I have been doing Zumba regularly, religiously really, for almost four years now, and that makes me one of the newcomers compared to how long some of my friends have been at it. The nature of a Zumba class, with only a few seconds between songs for discussion or water breaks, makes it kind of challenging to get to know the people around you. Still, thanks to quick chats before and after class, a dozen or so of us regulars have formed a pretty close-knit little community. We get together for lunch every month or so, often to celebrate a birthday or other momentous event – they even had a baby shower for me when I was expecting Ulysse and helped me celebrate my PhD when I graduated in May. 

While I love Zumba and what it has done for me physically and mentally over the years, I adore my Zumba friends. As addictive as the catchy songs and fun, creative choreographies can be, it’s the sense of community that keeps me from ever getting burned out or being too lazy to go. Even though I sometimes yawn during class from lack of sleep or phone it in on the high impact songs, I go, because I always want to check in with my friends, get updates on what they’ve been up to, joke around in the 10 seconds between songs, and have a good old time goofing up the moves to the best of my ability.