I’m probably one of the few people left who hasn’t tried the much-loved and therefore ubiquitous Zumba workout parties. Zumba must be fun; one of those things that is actually popular for a good reason. But who the hell wants to get all psyched up to dance, cardio-style, at 9 p.m. on a freezing February night?
Springs Salsa & Dance Fitness founders Dorie and Mark Wexler run a tight business, which is not only evident in the fact that they do these Thursday parties at Fujiyama for free, but also due to their incredible enthusiasm.
What happens is this: You arrive at a bustling restaurant, with no hint that anything like this is going to happen. But at 9 o’clock they push the tables aside, hook up a microphone and start the show. On the night I was there, only two other women came to dance, but there were numerous Springs Salsa instructors there.
Both Dorie and Mark led a set, as well as the frisky, bubbly Sunny, all decked out in an artfully cut-up Zumba top, baggy pink pants and a posh little hat. With each pop/dance song, we learned a few simple steps and then followed along for the rest.
• Songs one, two and three: I’m staying alive, shaking my tail feathers and jumping as required.
• Songs four, five and six: Getting winded, hot and sweaty, amazingly not cramped.
• Songs seven, eight and nine: Trying to keep up, but my body’s not moving the way I want it to. Sunny’s jumping around the room and I’m doing something similar, though I can’t tell what.
• Driving home: My calf is quivering and I can hardly push the pedals in my car. (Luckily, today, as I write, I’m actually not nearly as sore as I thought I’d be.)
By this time, only two couples are left in the restaurant, sitting at the sushi bar. They pretend the blaring “Living La Vida Loca” party isn’t happening, even when the Fujiyama staff dances a bit with us.
The session lasts an hour, with numerous short breaks in between. While I’m huffing and puffing over a glass of water, the Springs Salsa teachers are chowing down on noodles and sushi and some are even drinking wine. “How can you do that?” I growl. “You get used to it!” is the reply.
That seems like a goal I can aspire to, and I may be off to a good start, since the Wexlers said I had strong legs and rhythm. Well, I have to agree.