On the hopeful premise that the particular demographic of ‘regular readers of this blog’ includes someone other than me, I wouldn’t elaborate on how I had always been an effortless introvert with occasional deviations to being an uncertain (and unsuccessful) extrovert. I shy away from the spotlight, and the last time I danced in public was in 1994, when I was just eight and yet ignorant of big words like ‘performance anxiety‘. Later puberty flicked on a hitherto dormant introvert switch and I was embarrassed to be associated with anything that involved song and dance.
A couple of days ago I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up for a Zumba class. I knew it comprised of several dance moves with unrestrained swaying of hips and waist. I was doubtful about how I would fare considering I don’t have a waist per se and it has been replaced by a paunch. And what if anyone tittered on seeing my swaying paunch? But I curbed my nervousness and went for my first Zumba lesson today.
The room was filled with women of all ages, shapes and sizes. My bulging belly blended in quite well. The trainer didn’t have an ounce of extra fat on her and had gravity-defying curves, a dancer’s curves. I wondered if I should have taken the aid of a gravity defying garment, but dismissed the thought when I remembered the anecdote from Tina Fey’s Bossypants where a woman had pushed her breasts so high, they were practically above her collarbone and could even be mistaken for a goitre! So I let gravity win and avoided glancing into the side mirror.
The class started with the usual warm-up exercises and I was secretly hoping that it would never proceed to anything complicated beyond that. But ten minutes into it the music paced up and everyone’s inner Shakira was born. After a moment’s hesitation and furtively looking around to rule out any familiar faces, I too joined in. I was right, I didn’t have any waist to sway. I was wrong too, no one cared two hoots about it. Everyone was busy pouting into the mirror, wildly swaying their hips, tapping their feet into intricate patterns, gracefully moving their arms, and with an occasional boob jiggle thrown in. After this, I have a new found respect for a certain yesteryear RGV actress. I took time to get used to the fast-paced routine and ended up slapping faces and kicking a lot of legs. But the good people laughed off my clumsiness.
At one point my heart had figuratively leaped out of my ribcage and I craved for a drop of water as one stranded in the Sahara for weeks. The value of the simple act of breathing escalated as I struggled to hold onto it. But the exhilaration at the end was worth the dyspnea and tachycardia. No epiphany or miracles occurred and my two left feet are still intact; yet I feel somewhat liberated today. I hummed the tune and tapped my feet on the ride home. One anxiety has been partially conquered, certain self-created barriers were broken.
Every new freedom, however small, is addictive. I am looking forward to the next class of swaying my paunch and just having fun. But I hadn’t foreseen the disproportionate tiredness and the fact that I am no longer able to abduct my arms and thighs. Hopefully this fatigue and pain is just a beginner’s curse and would fade away by tomorrow.