Nancy Roman

Starting Off On The Right Foot

I am happy to report significant progress in my third Zumba class.

For those who (perhaps wisely) pay no attention to pop culture, Zumba is the latest fitness craze.  It is like the aerobics classes that were hot in the eighties, except with more hip action and much cooler music.

My first class didn’t really remind me of my old 1985 aerobics class though. For one thing, there were no leg-warmers. Yeah, back then I wore a black leotard with white tights and pink leg-warmers. (My mother wouldn’t pay for ballet lessons when I was ten. It obviously affected me.)

It reminded me more of the tennis lessons I took in 1989.  Because I did a lot of standing there watching the action pass me by.

But I was a little improved in my second Zumba class.  It helped that I took an easier class. Instead of 37 different step combinations in a single dance, we had four. That worked for me. I actually got to dance.

Class Number Two also brought back exercise memories. Distant memories. Back in the sixties, high school phys ed included Square Dancing. I didn’t grow up in Texas. I grew up in Connecticut. My life revolved around war protests and the Beatles. Square Dancing was square.

But secretly, it was really fun.

I liked memorizing the steps until they felt natural. Until I could do them without counting. That’s when it stopped being Phys Ed and started being Dancing. Even if I couldn’t really see the difference between Allemande Left and Allemande Right.

And just like Square Dancing, my second Zumba class presented me with the same little challenge.

I went right when everyone went left. And left when everyone went right.

But a little directional deficiency is no deterrent for me.

I showed up at Zumba Number Three with a salsa attitude and frisky feet.

Determined to dance and not count, I loosened my shoulders and my hips and gave it my all.  I merengued and cumbia’d, and, although I’m not quite sure, I did something that was an awful lot like the Locomotion. I was the best sixty-year-old Zumbist in the room. I was the only sixty-year-old Zumbist in the room.

I’m still working on that directional thing.


  1. Sounds like great fun! Who cares about the directions? I bet you were the coolest one there!


  2. Thanks for reminding me that I need to get back to zumba. I’m 55 and the oldest one in my


  3. You would be the perfect partner for my husband for the electric slide. He has yet to end up in the correct direction! Btw, your sketches are really fabulous! I can’t believe you are in finance!


    • Sometimes I can’t believe I am in Finance either, but I never warmed to the idea of being a starving artist. Finance has paid the bills nicely for many years, so I don’t knock it. But thank heaven for my artsy side.


  4. I was snookered into taking a Pilates Drumbellz class back in October which only confirmed my belief that I have no business trying to coordinate my body movements with a group. I give you lots of credit for attempting Zumba – that would be a spectator sport for me.


  5. RVingGirl

    Loved this post. And yes you are an amazing sketch artist. Have you published a children’s book, say? You would be great at the illustrations.
    We had to do Square Dancing too in Phys Ed. And I LOVED it…..docey do your partner, etc. LOVED the fun of it.
    worst class at phs ed was when we had to shimmey up the huge ropes to the ceiling of the gym. I had no problem getting my skinny little ass up there but froze at the top. One was supposed to shimmy, hand over hand down but I always got rope burns crashing down with the loudest squeals. what a duffus.


    • I’ve only done one manuscript for a kids’ book, but I haven’t shopped it anywhere… and I didn’t do illustrations. Maybe I should pull it back out of the back drawer. Thanks for reminding me.
      And I could never climb the rope. I fell off at the first hand over hand.


  6. I think it takes about 10 classes to somewhat know what you’re doing and not accidentally merengue into someone else. At least that’s how it worked for me. My instructor says there’s no such thing as mistakes only solos.


    • I love it! From now on, I’m not making mistakes, I’m having a solo!


  7. Excellent! The most important thing with dancing is to have fun, so just let go of inhibitions and move your body to the music.


  8. JSD

    That must be a lot of fun!…and healthy! Your illustration is great…would love to see more!


  9. Love this post!

    When I was directionally challenged in high school, I learned of a study that says that smart women often can’t keep right and left straight. I never investigated, I’ve clung to that belief for decades, though.


  10. I love your stories and your accompanying illustrations. I always look forward to your posts!


  11. Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s I took a class at the “Body Shop,” that sounds exactly like what you are calling it (I have never heard of the word “Zumba.”) I had the time of my life, and ever since we moved away from that community in upstate New York, I have looked to find another one. Unfortunately, now I don’t believe my body could take it – my balance is so out of whack, I think my orthopedist would club me to death himself if he knew I was putting myself at risk for a fall!

    I am vicariously dancing along! BTW, I wore a leotard and tights, or shorts and a tee over tights, but no leg warmers back then. It probably would have been a good idea, except – a large part of the class took part in the dead of a cold winter. However, by the time we finished the class and went out to our cars to go home, I could have walked out into the air naked – we worked up such a sweat. The cold felt great!


  12. A friend of mine in NC takes Zumba and swears her class is for the “special” people of which she gladly counts herself as one. She’s hooked! I’d love to try it, but with my travel schedule I’d never be able to attend regularly. Kudos to you! Maybe you can be performing on a float in your town’s next parade!


  13. Zumba is GREAT! I’ve seen people in their mid-to-late seventies (male & female) try it and their faces are so animated. Even though they can’t keep up they glow from feeling young again and you’re so right: the music is a driving FORCE.


  14. Good for you ! I’m working through my hot yoga and still don’t know what half the poses are. But I take my practice to the mat as often as I can and sweat like a crazy person. Any moving is good moving 🙂


    • I do heated yoga (hot but not crazy hot) – I really have to pace myself. But I get through it.


  15. Hilarious!


  16. Your picture is perfect for the post. A fun read.


  17. I love Zumba! So much fun shaking your butt!


  18. Salsa attitude and frisky feet? I love that! I haven’t heard of Zumba. Sounds like fun though.


  19. Zumba is great! But I always feel better using my zumba DVD at home. No mirrors to tell me just how little rhythm I have.


  20. LOVED this, because I’ve thought about trying Zumba but am afraid I would be out of my league. So, I’ve gone the other way. Just Thursday I tried a Senior Stretching class. While you were the OLDEST in your Zumba class, at 65 I was the YOUNGEST in MY class! My homeroom teacher from high school was in there — he told me he is over 80! But, you know, they do weights (how much depends on each person), use the stretch bands, wear ankle weights and do 15 minutes on the floor on mats. I don’t care if it’s an old class or not, I had muscles all over my body that were sore the next day — even though I’ve regularly been using the machines out in the gym. So, I’ve found a new exercise spot for myself — as the “kid” in this class.


  21. pharphelonus

    Nancy, do you draw all the illustrations?


  22. Thanks for reminding me about leg warmers… and I remember how I thought I looked pretty cool wearing them – oh, the memories of dancing to Madonna!


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