Halftime Leisure

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August 12, 2020

Our Wise Guide Stephen Colbert once said, “I never stretch before I run…because I never run.” Though I started out this quarantine trying not to emulate this quote, I soon threw in the towel and came to terms with the fact that I’m just not meant to be a marathon runner.

Luckily, there was one form of exercise I could still do that I was willing to to stretch for: Zumba.

Or, as my instructor calls it: Zoom-ba.

By now, college students around the world are tired of Zoom. Maybe you forgot to mute yourself while a family member was vacuuming. Maybe you accidentally messaged the entire class instead of your friend. Or maybe your eyes are just so exhausted from looking at virtual background screens that you’ve sworn the platform off completely. But I promise you, there is one thing that Zoom can still add to your life: weekly livestreams and/or recordings of the best workout out there.

With Latin American roots, Zumba is a cardio dance that was created by accident in Colombia by Alberto Perez. Though there is debate over whether Zumba is truly authentic and not culturally appropriative, especially as it continues to be commercialized in the way that yoga has, it incorporates meringue and salsa elements and serves millions of people globally

My own tango with Zumba started long before quarantine hit. My sisters are both dancers and Spanish speakers, so Zumba was definitely up their alley. It became one of my own passions when, this last semester, I finally caved and bought a discounted pass for Zumba classes with an instructor who I happened to be friends with. They were the best part of my week, helping me stay healthy when classes and college hours were throwing obstacles in my way. I thought quarantine meant that my Zumba days were behind me—until my Zumba instructor mentioned that she would be doing free weekly Zumba livestreams. It elevated my quality of life, and it can jumpstart yours, too.

Some may be skeptical. Can working out be…fun? Yes! Zumba can burn 300-900 calories in one hour. It’s known to help improve coordination and tone your body, and helps with cardiovascular health. Most importantly, it gets you exercising without even realizing that you are.

The best part about Zumba, however, is the music. I have always adored Spanish music, and Zumba’s Latin background means that the best Zumba sessions have your favorite Spanish serenaders. Maluma’s music alone made me want to throw a dance party, but now? A dance party sing-along is a respectable workout.

Some people might be worried about how they look when they do Zumba. Not all of us are competent dancers. I, personally, probably look like a fool. But if you were able to dance this terribly at a college party, what’s stopping you from doing it now? No one will be watching you mimic those high-energy YouTube video dance leaders, and if you do a livestream, just turn the camera off! 

As we experience one of the greatest challenges of our generation, working out is the last thing on anyone’s minds. People are dying and experiencing systemic racism: is now really the time to engage in recreational activity? The answer is, resoundingly, no. You have no obligation to get into the best shape of your life, you have no obligation to be productive, and you have no obligation to work out at all unless you want to. 

However, if the days…weeks….months….are starting to bleed together in a stream of nothingness, or if you want to work out after you attend some protests, Zoom-ba might be the very break that you need. It’s certainly invigorating for me, while simultaneously updating me on all the most recent Latin hits. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even look into getting Zumba instructor certified. 

So check out what Zumba videos are available on YouTube. See if any of your friends would want to do a livestream. Above all, get up and dance! 

Or, God forbid, you’ll have to run.

Natalie Chaudhuri
Natalie Chaudhuri is a washed-up Voices assistant and junior in the School of Foreign Service. Feel free to tell her how much you love her articles via text, email, or carrier pigeon.

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