I have never been addicted to exercise before. I’ve had my moments as a “gym rat,” but only because I was on a mission to lose that 10 pounds I had gained back since the last time I lost 10 pounds. Those “gym rat” moments were about a means to an end and I ultimately look back on those times realizing how much I hated running on that stupid treadmill. When I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago though, I had a really hard time not working out and was really depressed. Since the end of May I have had a consistent schedule of Zumba and pilates and was not only getting better at both, but really looking forward to the classes. When I had to miss them for 2 weeks I wasn’t upset because I was going to suddenly gain weight, I was upset because I missed my teachers, the muscle exhaustion I would feel at the end of class, and, most importantly, the endorphins. Apparently, once you get used to that endorphin high, there’s not much that can replace it.
My cousin is the first one who indirectly told me about endorphins. She’s a runner (Hi, Lind!) and once I asked her how she could run so much and for so long she told me, “runner’s high.” I so didn’t get it at the time because I didn’t know what I was missing. When exercise was a punishment, I wasn’t focused on how I felt after a work out, I was focused on how I wasn’t losing weight fast enough and was therefore a failure. When I finally would lose weight I would push myself harder and faster, burn out, and slowly gain back whatever I’d lost.
This summer really changed the way that I feel about exercise because I didn’t make it about losing weight; I just wanted to be healthy and maybe have a little bit more tone to my muscles. I turned to Zumba because I had taken classes before and had enjoyed them since I could get a full body cardio work out, without really thinking about it. Zumba dance includes elements of latin dance, hip hop, Bollywood, and whatever other style the teacher feels like putting into the class. When we moved to Park Slope in May I made it my goal to find classes that I liked so I wasn’t just going because I “had” to. Thankfully I live right by Park Slope Yoga, and they have Angela and Juliana, two of the best Zumba instructors I have ever encountered (not to mention Kathryn for Pilates who is the reason I can touch my toes).
The thing that makes Zumba different than most dance classes is that there is no stopping. In a regular hip hop dance class, the class will stop to learn a combination and then practice a few times and then stop and go over mistakes before continuing. In Zumba, the instructors have specific choreography for each song and you just have to catch on and follow along. For me, picking up the steps is easy (thanks to 15 years of tap) and I love the fact that there’s no time to think, you just have to do it. You can’t worry about how tired you are or if your quads hurt or if you look like an idiot, you just have to do what the teacher is doing. Also, when you’re familiar with the teacher and their dances, you don’t even have to follow along anymore, you can make the steps your own. It’s so liberating and fun and if you make a mistake no one cares as long as you’re moving and smiling.
I was finally able to go back to Zumba last night after my 2 weeks away. I was a little bit nervous about how my body would react, but really wanted to push myself and get through the class. It was the best thing I could have done. The energy of the class and feeling the music and the steps was exactly what I needed. I left there last night in the best mood I have been in since I hurt my back.
Endorphins are awesome, and I’m a Zumba addict. I mean, how can you go wrong when the slogan is “ditch the workout, join the party!”?
Where do you get your rush?