One Zumba Class Can Give You More Confidence Than Years At The Gym

by Emily Christoforou (Rorich)
Kate Daigneault

This story starts with Zumba.

For those who don't know, Zumba is basically moving to fast music for the sake of fitness. It's a great source of cardio for people who love a good dance party. But it's a little bit more awkward for those who lean on the tentative side.

My first experience of a Zumba class, which I attended in a gym with my mother, was rougher than I expected. I was surprisingly self-conscious as I tried to mirror the skinny instructor's Latin-style exercises to perfection. Worried I looked foolish, my moves became shamefully slow and small. And as a result, I giggled and watched more than I actually danced. Thus, something that was supposed to be fun was tainted by a feeble self-esteem.

But my beautiful mom was different.

This black, 40-something-year-old woman flailed her arms and legs about this way and that. She let the beats of the music soak into her soul, and quickly invented her own moves whenever she struggled to keep up with the much more fit instructor (which was often). And for me, it wasn't even embarrassing. It was inspirational.

It was during that Zumba class that I realized this: My mum doesn't give two hoots about what people think about her. In that classroom she was carefree, making the most of the experience and genuinely enjoying herself, no matter how silly, inflexible and uncoordinated she may have looked.

Over my not-very-long lifetime, my mother has taught me a lot of things: how to make roti from scratch, how to prepare a house for guests, how to hold a baby properly and how to play netball (her favorite sport). And during this particular Zumba class, my mom continued her teaching work.

Without realizing it, she was teaching me about what it looked like to live even the smallest part of life with self-confidence. (It was a classic "actions speak louder than words" moment.) And I decided that's the type of confidence I want to have.

Zumba is a great place for me to start practicing. Dancing will leave you high on endorphins and physically healthier, plus it's super fun and I love the rhythmic tunes, so I want to go all-out when I do it. I want to shift my feet side to side, no matter who's watching or how fast the music goes. And I want to keep my body moving, even if I'm (sadly) no Beyoncé.

But I don't want this sense of freedom only while in the gym classroom. I want it always.

I want to laugh at the top of my lungs and not care if people think I'm too loud, just like my mom does. I want to sing along to that catchy new song in the car, even if I'm road-tripping with my professional singer friends. I want to “get low” like Margaret Tate from "The Proposal." And I want my future daughter to watch me during a Zumba class and think, “I want to be like that.”

Because what's the point in doing things half-heartedly? Why should we make experiences less fun than they could be? And why should we restrict our joy merely because of what other people may or may not think?

Whether you're in a Zumba class, playing a game of your favorite sport or singing hymns to the God you love in a church building, take a leaf out of my mother's book and allow confidence and freedom to escape the bounds of your body.

And like me, take a moment to reflect on the vital life lessons your parents have sneakily or unintentionally taught you and be grateful for them.

Thanks, Mom.