I attended a workshop yesterday in Boston on writing for magazines and had to write and submit a piece. Two actually, but I won’t bore you with the one I wrote about the Billboard Music Awards since I know almost nothing about pop music. There is actually a column in Boston Magazine called “This is a Test” and that was our assignment.
Here it is:
The year was 2005. I had seen the infomercials for Zumba, bought the VHS tapes, and looked up how you become an instructor. A friend had vacation coming and I asked her to go with me and let her pick the location. Puerto Rico was her choice.
I had never been there. Immediately I was impressed with the beauty and lusciousness of the country. My friend headed to the pool and I headed for class. I began to see people dressed in athletic wear in the elevator and struck up a conversation with a young guy named Miguel. We arrived at the class and found that Beto Perez (the dynamic creator of Zumba) would be teaching it in Spanish. No habla Española. Luckily for me, Miguel offered to translate.
For two days we danced ourselves into exhaustion. The second day it was difficult to do the stairs. There was some lecture but mostly it was following movement. As one of the two white women in the group, and one of the older ones at that, I stayed a little toward the back. Being from New Hampshire I clearly did not have the Latin moves of my new friends. At one point Beto hopped off the stage, came to the back, making everyone turn around to face him. Out of the blue he grabbed me and broke into a partner dance of some type. I did my best to pretend I knew what I was doing. He went back through the crowd to the front. My new Puerto Rican friends gave me a high five.
I also got a chance to see the beautiful beaches, the rainforest, Old San Juan, and sample some delicious food and tropical drinks. Sadly, after a couple days of touring around (with my sore muscles) I had to return to New Hampshire.
Now Zumba is almost as common as Starbucks. Actually more common in NH, as we don’t have as many Starbucks as most places. I may never have been one of the best instructors, but I enjoyed being one of the first. And the value of breaking out of my comfort zone and having such a great time will stay with me.