Squeezing the Most out of Your Zumba Class

Accordion

The Zumba adventures continue even while there is no class for two weeks.  I have found another comparison between Zumba, my body, and a musical instrument.  First, though,  I want to take you back to my pre-Zumba university days.  Back to when I lived on campus and went out dancing quite often (who am I kidding, four nights a week) to party when I really should have been studying.  When I started university, moving away from home was a big deal, and I was in control of my life for the first time ever.  I made new friends and shared rooms with roommates.  One, in particular, comes to mind in relation to this story.  We were in different programs, and at times, there were personality conflicts.  It happens, and it is a part of growing up.

This roommate liked animals more than people and had a different taste in music than I did.  We would take turns playing our favourite music when we were in the room at the same time.  These days, that would not be a problem, because I am sure every Millenial out there has an MP3 Player of some sort with amazing headphones so the issue I ran into would not be a problem today like it was back then.  Yes, I am talking about playing music on a ghetto blaster, also known as a boom box.  Back then (yeah, I know this ages me some) we had cassette tapes, and CDs were still new.  It was a thing for us to play the music you liked for other people, and see if they liked it as much as you did.  Sometimes it was great.  Other times it was overplayed.  The worst was when you had to listen to someone else’s music that you hated because it was their turn to play their music.

Living with this roommate ALMOST ruined Bon Jovi for me.  She played it over and over and over.  My love for Bon Jovi returned after a few years, but it was iffy for quite some time.  When she decided to play a different band, I was open to hearing something new.  Oh boy, was that a short-lived bit of hope.  The other band she absolutely LOVED and wanted to play when she wasn’t playing Bon Jovi was a band called The Who.  I tolerated it the first time I listened to it, but it really wasn’t my cup of tea.

Miles and miles and miles and miles and miles still haunts me when I think of it. Twitch.  There was one song that I found amusing.  Squeeze Box.  It is a funny little song that has more than one meaning.  A Squeeze Box is another name for an accordion, but if you let your mind drift a little left of center, you know what the song could be referring to if you have any sort of a gutter based imagination.  Imagine my surprise when this song popped into my head in the middle of a Zumba class!

As of yet, we have not done Zumba to Weird Al Yankovic or any of his Polka Parties. (How much fun would THAT be)?  Weird Al is the accordion player that I listen to, and I really like his music.  I love the humour in his parodies, and the fun he inserts into my day if I am listening to his music.  I digress.  The Squeeze Box reference refers once again to my chest.

You see, I am rather curvy, and just as my hips sometimes get in the way of my bowling, my “girls” get in the way at Zumba.  I crack people up whenever I think this stuff up, because then I act on it, or tell someone the joke to see if it is funny.  A few weeks ago we were reaching in front with our arms.  Sometimes I feel like my arms are really too short, like T-Rex short.  So for the instructor to see, I pretended to extend my arms longer at my sides, and then cross them in front of my stomach like she was showing us to do, holding the upper parts of my arms straight down, and just bending them to reach to the front from my elbows.  I look really funny when I am flailing my arms like that.  She laughed.  She lost track of what she was doing for a minute.

Then, in another recent class, we were doing a move that involves crossing your arms in front of you while you make your legs wobbly and move your knees to touch each other, and back apart.  I know that might not be the best description, but if you think of the funny dance when you put your hands on your knees and move your legs like that and cross your hands back and forth, it is like that, except we are standing straight up, and you are crossing your arms in front of you.  So when we do this, I hold my arms straight out and cross them back and forth, but because I have short arms, the “girls” become my Squeeze Box, just like that song implies.  I shared my accordion thought and got the desired reaction from the Zumba Crew that heard me.  Another funny analogy brought to you by me, an old roommate, and Zumba.

As the summer time hits, and we are all working out in the heat, please remember to hydrate.  And when your Zumba instructor is encouraging you to show some fire in class, remember, it is about your dance moves, even if all you really feel like doing is putting out the fire with the Zumba move I am going to call the, “Stop, Drop, and Roll.”  If you decide that you NEED to try this out, and you want to deliver it with a bigger impact, throw in the T-Rex arms.  Hilarious, until you get the ambulance bill.

Oh, and by the way, my ghetto blaster is still working, as is my walkman.  Long live the mixed tapes and the local radio stations!  I am looking forward to my next trip to The Zumba Zone!

 

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Relay for Life 2017

Relay 2017 2

Relay for Life 2017. Tish & Matty

I attended Relay for Life to participate in the Zumba at Relay.  My Zumba instructor does this every year, and when I am able to attend extra Zumba classes to support her and to get me moving more, I go.  I actually met her at Relay several years ago.  I have come a long way with my Zumba since then, and I will be continuing to go to Zumba as long as I am able to go. I do what I can, and I am feeling the rewards of stress relief,  getting stronger and healthier.

So many people are affected by the ugliness of cancer in their lives.  Relay is a fundraiser to help find a cure for cancer, but for many people, it is more than that.  It is a chance to reflect on loved ones who have lost the battle.  It is a chance to support people you know that are fighting cancer.  It is also a chance to celebrate with those who have looked cancer in the eye and beat it.  Sometimes more than once.

Members of my family have had cancer.  It is something I have learned to live with while trying not to live in fear of it.  I have been spending some time with a good friend who is not going to win her fight with cancer.  It is hard to face as a friend, but it must be even harder to face as a person with terminal cancer.  It makes me sad to know that her time is limited and that her family and friends will feel this too.  It is hard, sometimes, to know what to do or say.  We are becoming better friends because of this terrible thing that is happening to her.  We were friends before, but it is important for me to make sure that I am available to spend time with her now, while she is still here and able to enjoy the company of our friendship.

I went to Relay and did Zumba there.  I did not participate in anything else.  My focus this year was to go and have a good workout.  I promised another friend that passed away that I would take care of myself, and although it wasn’t cancer that he died from, in going I am keeping my promise to him.  The first few classes I went to after he died broke my heart.  I cried.  I fought to finish the classes, and I am still keeping my promise to him every time I go.

Relay 2017 1

They found a Rebel who was unable to convince them of the health benefits of Zumba at Relay.

I didn’t see the Storm Troopers in the crowd this year.  They were at Relay, but I am guessing Darth Vader ordered them to not participate in Zumba.  There were a lot of people there. I saw some angel wings, costumes, masks, and a little girl in a princess dress.  When Zumba was over, there was a song still playing on the speakers.  We all stopped, and the little princess walked over to me and wanted me to hold her hands and keep dancing.  So I did.  I don’t know her story, if she was sick, or if she was there because of someone else.  I knew I didn’t have a choice in the matter.  When a princess approaches you in a crowd full of people and wants to hold your hands and dance, well, you hold her hands and dance in a circle until she wants to stop.  I don’t know who she was, except that she was a princess for Relay.  I don’t know why she chose me in a crowd full of people, but she did, and I wasn’t prepared to walk away.  That is why I attend Zumba at Relay.  You never know what kind of memory you will take home with you, and it somehow makes you feel that even when it seems like the ugliness of cancer is at its scariest, if you are able to support a friend or hold the hands of a princess and share a dance, there is a glimmer of hope.  Be present in your life, and do good unto others while you are here.  Which left me with the message I am carrying in my heart.  Hope.

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Most of the pics are from my friend Matty.  There are two from Fredericton Relay For Life 2017 Facebook Page, all shared with permission.  Why do you Relay?

Why I use a Pedometer in Zumba Class

Surprise at Zumba

A while back someone gave me a smart band to wear at Zumba Class.  I already had a pedometer, but this levels it up for me.  It also keeps track of my heart rate, which I also use now that I can.

It has been helpful to keep an eye on my heart rate.  I am able to work out a little harder because I know when I check it, the smart band will tell me if I am working my heart too hard, or not enough.

I report my steps on the Zumba page also.  When I started, I was told you can get up to 5,000 steps in a Zumba Class.  As there is a movement in the world to get a minimum of 10,000 steps every day and walk your way to a healthier lifestyle, getting 50% of those steps done in an hour is a HUGE ADVANTAGE.  So if you are thinking that it is just another dance aerobics class, you are setting your standards for Zumba too low.

I average around 4,000 steps in a class.  Sometimes less, sometimes more.  My goal is to have it increase to the 5,000 steps (or more).  Since I got the smart band, another member of the Zumba crew is using my pedometer in class.  She is averaging 5,300 steps a class.  I have got to say, she is definitely in the Zumba Zone.  It is absolutely possible, and realistic to aim for 5,000 steps while in a Zumba class.

What else do I love about Zumba?  The Zumba Crew, the music, dancing, and having fun!  I don’t do all the moves, I’m not always confident that I can do them all.  I am changing how much I do all the time.  Some days I push myself.  Some days just being there and going through the motions is all I can do.  But I go, and I participate, however I can.

Sometimes I have to stop and check my blood sugars.  Most of the time, they are normal.  If they are low, it means I have to drink a juice box before continuing my workout.  If they are still low after that, it means I need candy and to lower my insulin dose before the next class.

I have missed a few classes this spring because I have been sick.  Nothing serious, but I was not able to go in the last few weeks.  I look forward to going back this week.  Monday is Victoria Day so the next class will be Wednesday.  If I am feeling better, I may just push myself to hit 5,000 steps.  It is something to work towards, and when I get there, I will aim higher.

How do you motivate yourself to exercise?

I Had Sass in Zumba Class!

Surprise at Zumba

I survived another Monday and made it to another Zumba Class!  I really enjoyed the music and the workout today.  I am tired, but I earned it.  We made it to 5,000 steps today!

I knew I was feeling like I needed a good workout.  I felt a little lethargic, but I knew I needed to go.  I got ready and found my place in the Zumba Crew.

I went for it!  Since I have this new smartband, I have been keeping an eye on my steps and my heart rate.  My resting heart rate is around 65.  Well, at one point it was really pumping, I felt like it was working hard.  I checked, and it was at 146.  Exercise success!  I increased my heart rate!  I paced myself for a bit with the music and brought it down to 85.

Then the music sped up again.  I was feeling it, but not like earlier.  It was back up to 101.  I worked out hard tonight.  It was a good class.  I managed to calm down without panicking about my heart rate when it was pumping really fast.

We were near the end, and I heard a song I knew the moves for.  So I got into a groove and was told I had some sass in the class tonight.  I was just getting my Zumba on, and I guess others noticed.  It is good to be in the Zumba Zone.  It was a great finish to another Monday.  My heart rate is closer to normal now, back at 75 beats.  So I have recovered from my workout, and now I can relax.

A quick google search gave me the answer to what a good heart rate during exercise is.  220 – your age= the maximum heart rate you should have to still be within a healthy range.  I still have wiggle room with that calculation, and with my weight being quite high, I do not want to max that out. Yet.

A target resting heart rate is 60-100 for the average person, and 40-60 for an athlete.  I guess I have some work to do on that also, but generally, my resting heart rate is near 60, so I am going to keep on believing that I have a strong, healthy heart, and keep on going to Zumba.  I like it, and it is good for me!  I got my heart rate up, and I had fun!  Those are 2 key points to remember when I am dragging my feet and don’t want to make the effort.  I AM WORTH THE EFFORT!  It certainly makes me feel better, and helps move the stress of the day job out of my system!

It’s all good, and when I pace myself, it is OK.  I am comfortable in my Zumba Crew and sometimes I dance to a different beat, but I am still there, and I am still dancing my way to being healthier.  Although I am tired after a really good class like this, I never want to stop!  It is a good tired, the best kind, and I had fun getting there. It is good for my heart and soul.  So I intend to keep going for as long as I can!

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Today is not my birthday, but someone gave me a present!

Surprise at Zumba

It is Monday.  I got up, went to work, then I went to Zumba.  I got a surprise when I was getting ready for class.

Someone anonymously had a Heartrate Monitor Smartband delivered to me before class started.  It was such a nice surprise!  When I say the Zumba Crew Rocks, I really mean it!

It didn’t turn on when I tried it on.  But I am glad I did because I had to learn how to take it off!  I took it home and plugged it into my computer.  It didn’t take too long to charge.  I have 2 days to get used to it before I can try it out in class.

I don’t know how to set the time and date on it yet, I will have to google that, I am sure.  But it is already measuring my heart rate, steps, distance and calories for me.  That is so neat!

I wear a pedometer in Zumba class, that is how I know that I had 3531 steps today.  It will be interesting to wear both in class Wednesday to see how they compare for the steps.  From what I see here, my resting heart rate is 67.  I hope that is OK.  When I exercise it will be a more important number to watch, I am sure.  The good news is that it is not capable of sending or receiving text messages, so I don’t have to take it off at work.  It is going to take some getting used to.  I will have to figure out how long the battery runs before I need to recharge it.  I am hoping there are some tips online for it, as I am interested in seeing what else it does.  I don’t know why it buzzes and vibrates, but I know it does.  That could be entertaining.

To whomever this gift is from, THANK YOU!  I need all the help and encouragement I can get in this journey to be a healthier version of myself, and it really means a lot!  I will take good care of it, and in turn, it will help me take better care of myself!  What a wonderful surprise!  😀

Zumba: Sometimes I go to the Beat of My Own Drums

It’s time for another Zumba story!  I enjoy going to Zumba twice a week, with a great group of people.  It is a steady group, and there are some of us that are regulars, and some that come once in a while, and there are even people who join the group and become regulars. We call ourselves the Zumba Crew.

When I started, I was a long way from the same level and speed as everyone else.  When I start a new song, with new moves, I improvise.  I will not use my arms if the moves are new, it can be too much to learn all at once.  I didn’t spin on my feet for a long time, I marched instead.  Sometimes, when everyone else was doing a fancy move that had them turning, I would smile, or wave, and stay facing forward.

That’s one of the things I like about the class I take.  I am encouraged to do what I can, and to not feel like I have to be the same as everyone else.  There are options.  If I don’t want to move my arms, I don’t.  Sometimes they do get tired.  It helps to enhance the exercise when I move them, so other times,  I do.  There are times when I can keep up with everyone, and there are times where I go at half the speed.  And there are times where I mess up.  When I do, I laugh.  Out loud.  At myself.  Usually for zigging when everyone else is zagging.

I wear a pedometer in class, and I broke 4,000 steps today.  I like it when I get more than 5,000 steps in a class, and it has happened before, so I always try to get as many steps in as I can.

You have all heard of playing the “air guitar” to a favourite song.  At my Zumba classes, sometimes we play the “air drums.”  Today we were shown how to do this properly.  If you just flap your hands around from the wrists, it is rather pointless.  The way to move correctly is to swing your arms from the elbows right through to the hands.  Hard.  As hard as you can.  I also saw a different method on TV, on the show This is Us.  There is an actress on that show that went to what was called a “Fat Camp.”  I watched her exercise with actual drum sticks.  It wasn’t a Zumba class, they were in an air drumming exercise class.  We don’t use sticks at Zumba.  We could, but it might get dangerous.

So we drum out the beats.   We were told to just pound the drums that weren’t there, like we were making the beat ourselves.  I was going for it, when a funny thought struck me.  As I was beating the air drums, going side to side, and up and down, I thought I’d better watch out for my cymbals.  I am well endowed, and that could hurt too!  I shared the thought with someone else, and when she laughed, I knew I would write another Zumba Blog post tonight.  So I found myself laughing with a new friend at Zumba.  I left with a  story to tell, and I was also feeling good after a great class.

 

I think I Zumba-(ed) too hard

i-think-i-zumba-ed-too-hard

Here is another Tish-ism for you.  In my efforts to live a healthier lifestyle, I have added in two Zumba classes a week.  I do my best to be there, barring migraines and having to stay late at work once in a blue moon, I go.  Living in Canada, sometimes weather is an issue.  I am working on getting more active besides my Zumba classes, but for now, it’s my main activity every week.  Winter + Ice = Tish is scared to fall down.  So outdoor activities are not a thing for me in the winter, without the proper equipment.

I had a good amount of positive energy today,  and feel like my pedometer lied when it read 3700 steps.  It felt like a million tonight, at least.  I was in the Zumba Zone, and was literally working my butt off.  I know what that means.  When I go back to class Wednesday, I will be moving a little slower, and maybe in a little pain.  The good kind.  The kind of pain that is caused from exercise that was done correctly.  It also  means I worked out my muscles, and that I wasn’t just going through the motions.

At the end of a class, when I feel like this, the first thing that comes to mind is that I Zumba-(ed) too hard.

I don’t like pain.  I don’t deal with it very well.  Lately I have successfully convinced myself that there is a right kind of pain, and a wrong kind.  The right kind means that your muscles worked out and did what they were supposed to do.  That is why it is good, it was productive, no matter how bad it hurts.  It is neither throbbing, nor a high amount of pain.  The bad kind is counter productive.  If you rip or pull a muscle, it hurts a lot.  I pulled a ligament in one of my legs in elementary school.  I was mid-stride and went from running to limping and crying.  I had to wrap it and got a few days off from school.  I still remember how much it hurt when it happened.  I do not recommend trying this, ever.

No matter what is going on, I have come to enjoy going to Zumba.  I love dancing.  Sometimes it is not the same as what everyone else is doing, but I am still being active, no matter what I have to improvise.  That is important.

So when I was in the middle of class today, I really felt like I was completely in my Zumba Zone, and I went for it.  There are going to be days that I am not feeling up to giving 120% to the Zumba class.  Today was not one of those days.  I felt strong.  When things work for me, I am all in.  I left feeling like I had worked out today.  That is a big deal.  I am not an athletic type of person.  I do enjoy swimming, and dancing.  Biking is OK, but I haven’t had a bike for years. It’s the same for skating, I used to skate, but haven’t for years.  I walk, and I am starting to pick up my pace again when I have errands to run in the mall where I work, or even just for moving to the break room.  I sometimes feel my heart rate picking up, and even am short of breath when I push myself.

What am I getting at?  Well, there are days when you feel good and strong, and on those days like today, it is a good plan to push yourself a little bit harder.  If you do this, on the days you don’t feel up to the 120% and you aren’t in YOUR Zumba Zone, well, on those days 75% is OK.  You are doing the best you can.  For me it’s all about how I am feeling, and I know my limits.  I don’t think I am to the point I was about six months ago when I could feel my abdominal muscles the next day, but I am on my way back.  By the time the weather changes from winter to spring, I plan to be increasing my activity level.  When I am ready.  And when there is no more ice out there.  Until then, I’ll keep going to Zumba, I don’t have any plans to stop for a long time to come.

 

 

 

Even Storm Troopers want to join our Zumba Crew

A part of my New Healthy Lifestyle that I have been working towards for more than two years now has been adding physical activity into my routine.  At my current job, there was a team for the local Relay for Life Charity event, and I joined.  I have gone to a few Relay Events in the last five years, and that is where I found the Zumba Crew.  The group size ranges from year to year, and class to class.  The core group has remained, for the most part, the same. It is a private group, not that we don’t accept new members, but that it is not based out of a gym.  We meet twice a week, and I have been working at it and getting better all the time.

The featured picture above was from Relay For Life 2016.  This is just a few of us.  The photo bomber Storm Troopers in the background looking like they want to be a part of the Zumba Crew really were there.  They were in another group for Relay, and they gathered a lot of attention.  But if you look past the Zumba Crew, you can see it.  They want to join in.  That happens around our Zumba Crew.  We have a lot of fun!

As you can see, one of the Storm Troopers joined in for Zumba at Relay 2016.  It was really fun!  I have come a long way in my healthier lifestyle goals.  I have always finished class.  Not always doing the same thing as everyone else, or keeping the same pace, but I am there until the end.  The first time I did Zumba at Relay, I had two; not one but TWO charlie horses in my calves.  I wanted to quit.  But I thought about where I was, and what I was participating in.  Thought about how it was to raise money to cure cancer, and if you have cancer, and need to go through treatments, you can’t just quit in the middle if you want to beat it.  So I toughed it out.

Since then, I have never had an experience quite like it.  I am grateful for that.  I have had health issues in the past year that forced me to take a break from Zumba.  I am happy to report that I am back, and getting stronger again.  I am keeping pace better, and trying harder at doing the same moves as everyone else.  I  have to do my own thing, sometimes, because I still have a long journey ahead of me to becoming a healthier version of myself.  Something I want people to take away from reading this is that it doesn’t have to be Zumba, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  But if you pick something you enjoy doing and work at it on a regular basis, you will improve, and you will be a better person for it.

So go out there and try something new.  Or get involved in something you used to like doing.  Make friends.  Have fun.  It might be the best thing you can do for yourself!  Trust me, the best part of my Mondays and Wednesdays is rushing out of work to go join my friends at Zumba Class.  Find your Zumba, and start becoming the best version of you that you can be!