Chapter 2: The draconian Zumba class
Days went by, leaving me with an uncontrollable sense of guilt for inaction. What could I do? The now-Canadian yoga teacher had gone away and here I was, bloating again. However, somewhere deep down, I hadn’t given up on finding a new instructor for myself. There were some good gymnasiums and yoga classes in the vicinity of my apartment, but not knowing how to drive a car was a big hurdle in the way. Relying on auto-rickshaws was the last thing I wanted to do, for the apprehension of being fleeced twice, every second morning. The last option was to walk to class, but the mad morning traffic on the highway on which the apartment is situated dissuaded me beyond doubt. I could not risk my life or a limb for getting back in shape. It wasn’t worth it! Again, given the two-hours I had to myself every morning, I had to figure out something within the apartment complex itself and soon.
Once again the law of attraction worked in my favour and a neighbour casually mentioned a Zumba class being taken by a young woman within the apartment. Zumba is a dance fitness programme, usually performed on Latin music, designed to burn high levels of calories during the workout. Dance has always beckoned me (though I never did it!) and Latin music kind of sounds hip. The thought of the transformation from ancient yoga techniques to the contemporarily fashionable Zumba got me all excited and I could feel my lost vigour return, though in unmanageable proportions. I figured out the in-house Zumba instructor’s number and got in touch with her. She very sweetly offered to take a demo class for me, after which I could decide whether I wanted to join the class formally.
“You’re going to love it” she said on the phone, her voice beaming with confidence at her own sense of instruction and prowess.
“I’m sure I will” I said, feeling confident at the degree of her confidence. I was reasonably sure I would like the class and my woes would end, at least temporarily, till this woman too decided to migrate overseas. Who knows?
Thus came the demo day and I, dressed in perfect exercise-type attire rang her doorbell at 6 am sharp. I felt fresh as a bird, something very unusual for a perpetually somnolent personality like me. The excitement of the class had prevented me from sleeping the whole night, not to mention the sudden change I was expecting to see in my own body, after I got back in an hour’s time. Zumba is very rigorous I had heard, and I was sure that it would help me regain shape.
My thoughts were disrupted as the instructor answered the door and ushered me into her house with a broad smile. She was a pretty woman, in her late twenties, extremely attractive and well-dressed. She reminded me of young women in Bollywood movies, who play the most desired females on college campuses. Good for me, I thought.
Apart from me, her class included two other women who had already spread out their yoga mats and waited eagerly for the class to begin.
“Good morning” I said to the women.
“Hey” said one of them. She was a lean young woman of about twenty-two, extremely frail and sickly-looking. The first emotion she evoked in me was that of sympathy. If I was the instructor, I would never have let her join the class, no matter how much she was willing to pay.
“How are the classes? Do they help in weight loss?” I asked in an apprehensive tone.
“Oh man! You’ll loooooooove them. Out of this world I tell you.” she said in an accent that was neither American nor British. God knows where she had picked it up from or may be she created it. Whatever.
“Oh good” I said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Suddenly my eyes fell on the second woman. She was a rather short and plump young girl of about twenty, busy stretching her body as I talked to the lean one.
“How long have you been here?” I asked her.
“Oh you’re talking to me?” she said. “It’s been almost eight months now.”
By her look, I didn’t feel like asking her the weight loss question. I swallowed my disappointment and smiled back at her.
“Don’t judge the instructor’s ability by my fat” she said, pre-empting my thoughts. “My body fat is varrrry stubborn.”
“I see.” said I and began to focus my attention on the instructor, who had been listening carefully to my conversations with the two women. Finding me looking at her, she broke the silence.
“Have you brought water?” the instructor asked.
“Nope. I don’t think I’ll need it.” I said.
“And how can you say that?” she said.
“I prefer to have water only at the end of the class” said I, with a fake air of self-importance.
“Your wish” she said. “Anyway, feel free to take water from the purifier in the kitchen. The glasses are on the counter.”
I thanked her with a smile reeking of over-confidence. I wasn’t going to need any water. I was sure.
“By the way, don’t expect too much out of the demo class. All you must focus on is on doing as I am doing. OK?”
“Here we begin” she said and began to tie what looked like a bandana around her head that made her look much more of the college-smartie types. She clicked something on her rather new-looking Mac laptop and there I stood, ready to face the music. The music began and with that, the instructor began to sway her waist from side to side and so did the rest of us. After nearly two minutes, I realised I was feeling good.
The first jolt came when I realised that the music being played was in English. I still don’t know why I was shocked. Did I expect to Zumba on Hindi classics or romantic hits? It was perhaps my apprehension of not understanding the lyrics that was freaking me out. Anyway. As the music gained gusto, the movement of her waist became faster and faster and by that time, my breath had already begun to leave my side. I felt that the symmetry between the corners of my waist had been lost, as if the hip bone had been dislocated by a vigorous jolt. As if this was not enough, the instructor’s rather scary-looking neck movements had begun. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her hurling her head in full circles, forming a rainbow-shaped halo around her head, with her open hair. I knew that it wasn’t even worth trying, yet I chose to give her the impression that I was loving it. The reality was that I was losing it.
As my body got more and more tired, my ability to process information also slowed down. When she started another dance step, I could follow it in its entirety only by the time she had moved on to another. I could see the other two women look at me from the corner of their eyes and then exchange smirky glances. However, I hung on, till a black smoke began to cover my eyes. I felt as if my body was turning ice cold and a vintage black and white TV screen appeared before my eyes. Some good sense got into me and I pushed myself against the wall just behind me. I had just prevented myself from falling like a felled tree.
This experience was not new. Decades ago, I had fainted in the Chemistry lab of my school, owing to high hydrogen sulphide levels. And today this bone-breaking dance had brought me on my knees.
“Are you OK?” asked the instructor.
“Can I have some water please” I said in a voice that only I could hear.
“Water” I managed to utter.
The three women exchanged glances and a glass of life-saving liquid was handed over to me. I felt instantly better.
“Thank you” I said, wiping the cold sweat off my forehead.
“Now get up and start jogging” said the instructor.
I complied, only to find myself fainting yet again and asking for more water.
“I guess I must go” I said. “I’m not able to catch up.”
“Sure” she said.
Limping along the path to my house, I got home with the yoga mat in one hand, and my head in another. As I had fathomed, I stood before the full-length mirror in my room. There was change indeed, but not of the kind I had expected to see. Chuck weight loss. I would much rather prefer maintaining the current position of my bones, flesh and muscles.
I never looked back at that class or at the prospect of Zumba for that matter.
Chapter 2 was a complete disaster.
Zumba – out!
To be continued.
Image taken from Google images.