Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tips for men who want to try Zumba

I just saw Talking with Zumba-loving Joe Minoso of ‘Chicago Fire’ fame | Radio and TV Talk:
Joe Minoso five years ago was a 300-pound depressed, out-of-work actor. But then the Chicago resident found, of all things, Zumba. He fell in love with that joyous style of workout and lost 70 pounds. In 2012, a more svelte, battle ready Minoso nabbed a major role on NBC’s drama “Chicago Fire” as a firefighter Joe Cruz.
I followed a link there to a clip from the show where he is about to teach a class, and a group of his friends show up (which I can't embed here). Then I found an extended cut:

Like most Hollywood entertainment, it's fascinating in what it tells you that's right and that's wrong.

What right are the moves: Minoso is doing common Zumba dance moves.

What's wrong in the extended clip are the people completely ignoring the leader. Zumba teachers are fond of saying "There are no mistakes, only unintentional improvisations," and no one expects anyone to be particularly accurate when following the leader, so don't feel self-conscious when you spin in the opposite direction of the leader or fumble some steps or do anything differently.

But the leader's there for a reason. So:

1. Try to do what the leader does. Then laugh when you goof up, because everyone there was a beginner once and they know you learn in stages.

Because the clip is about a guy's friends showing up, the class is far more male than usual. I'll probably write sometime later about why Zumba classes are mostly female, but for now, trust me:

2. If you're male at a Zumba class, expect to be in the minority.

The article about Minoso says his first teacher brought him to the front of the class because he was so enthusiastic. That's probably true, but it's not typical either: most teachers let people dance where they like. My advice to new people:

3. Find a place a few rows back and slightly to one side so you won't be more self-conscious than you already are, but you are still able to see the leader.

A few specific points:

4. Don't stare at anyone except the teacher. If people decide you're there to ogle, you won't be coming back. (I haven't seen anyone acting like a creep, but I've heard stories.)

5. Don't expect to meet women. They're there to dance, then go do something else.

6. Be friendly and respectful and dance with joy, and you probably will make new friends because people who like something tend to like other people who like the same thing.