Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Zumba in Kathmandu

A week ago I tried my first Zumba class at the Salsa Dance Academy in the Bhat Bhateni neighborhood. Well, I should say, my first full Zumba class. During the summer of 2008, I tried a Zumba class at my gym, and I walked out after about twenty minutes because I deemed it not a good workout.

In retrospect, I realize that I never even gave Zumba a chance. Back then, I measured workouts by miles run, weights lifted, and spinning classes taught -- yes, in another life (i.e. grad school) I was a spinning instructor. So a dance-based workout? Psssah.

The other problem, which I may not have admitted to myself at the time, is that I don't have a natural talent for dancing. Sure, I studied ballet for five years when I was young, and let's not forget the year of cotillian dances once a month during fifth grade, from which my only real memory is not the cha cha but rather the time I nearly threw up all over my dance partner after consuming some MSG-laced meal for dinner. Needless to say, that training has not translated well to other dancing in my life, perhaps in part because I am just not one of those people blessed with great natural rhythm. Or disinhibition.

So after all of that, how did I find myself in a Zumba class in Kathmandu? Well, these days, my attitude -- about everything -- is much more "Why not?" than "Why should I?" I think that moving to Nepal has a lot to do with this mental shift, but I also credit my regular yoga practice, which teaches me to appreciate where I am at this moment, both on and off my mat. Sure, I would love to be able to do this pose one day, but unlike, say, training for a marathon, I am never thinking about end goals with my yoga practice and instead can enjoy where I am on any given day. Some days, that might mean holding crow pose for a solid 30 seconds, while other days that might mean relishing an extra long and glorious child's pose.

This mindset transfers to Zumba. I may not be very good. At all. But I have found the classes shockingly fun, so who cares if I stumble around a bit?

Plus, Zumba really is a good workout. It's no replacement for my daily home yoga practice, but it is great to do a few times a week, not only to warm up on these increasingly chilly days but also to get out and meet some new people. Almost all the other Zumba participants are Nepali ladies, and a lot of them are good. The crowd really goes wild during the Bhangra-themed routine that makes me feel like I am in a Bollywood movie. It's awesome. And a little bit ridiculous.

If you live in Kathmandu and are interested in Zumba, a drop-in class at the Salsa Dance Academy is NPR 300, and a package of ten classes is NPR 1800. Come join me!

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