Amy Strode breaks out of her fitness rut by throwing herself into Ghetto Zumba. "I felt I was actually working out, making me break a sweat, and not just flapping my arms about in the vain hope of looking like a Latino goddess". This is what happened.
I've been stuck in a fitness rut, post first marathon, no training schedule to stick to, six weeks off work (not as great as it sounds). As the lie-ins increase, the gym motivation dwindles and you resign yourself to trying to keep in shape by reducing the number of premium bottled fruit ciders you drink each day to a healthy four... Until that dreaded moment when you realise it's two weeks until your all-inclusive holiday in the Balearics and the thought of swanning about semi-naked is about as appealing as losing a bullfight. Time for the emergency health kick, whereby you must attend every Gymbox class physically possible until you have to board that flight.
This is how I discovered Ghetto Zumba.
Being a creature of bad habits when it comes to working out – switching between lengthy training for an event or the same boxing and spin classes every week – I was uncertain about embarking on a class I knew little about. But I am really glad I did!
Entering the class on a warm Thursday afternoon, slightly aching from a few days of futile cycling, I wasn't sure I was in the mood for what I expected to be just another up-beat dance class. I'd been to 'Zumba' before, and there was just a lot of jumping, waving and shimmying – fun, yes, but physically challenging? Not really. As always, with any new Gymbox class, this opinion was to change.
Instructor, Jess, introduced the class by mentioning that, although Ghetto Zumba is choreographed and is about having fun, the class is a workout, so the key is to keep moving. Even if you're standing on each other's toes or facing the wrong way, you will only benefit on a fitness level if you maintain the pace. I soon discovered this was a challenge but one that made me feel good rather than want to cry (like in the exercise I normally choose to do).
The class is made up of a variety of choreographed routines, starting with an up-tempo number to get warmed up- lots of handclaps and leaping about- and then moving between routines of varying speeds and complexity to challenge and target different areas of the body. For me, I enjoyed this approach to choreography – there were no pauses to teach you the moves (apart from a tricky upright crunch-type manoeuvre) but, if you didn't completely nail the steps in one song, you would pick it up in the next. As a fan of endurance workouts, I also enjoyed the fast/slow intervals, which made me feel like I was actually working out, making me break a sweat, and not just flapping my arms about in the vain hope of looking like a Latino goddess.
As usual at Gymbox, the soundtrack to the class was on point. Again, you might be over the whole standard Zumba soundtrack, a few current pop songs with some Jennifer Lopez in Spanish thrown in for good measure. But this was on another level. I'm not denying there was a little J-Lo in the mix, but with tracks ranging from rhythmic dancehall to a ridiculously catchy Bhangra remix of Major Lazor's 'Lean On', I could't help but enjoy the class.
My tip for anyone reading this and thinking, "choreography, not for me", is to just try it! There's no pressure to look good– Jess encourages you to go for it, sultry pouts and all, and does so herself, so you don't feel silly (although silliness is definitely allowed). You might even completely forget that anyone in reception can see through the mirrored studio wall, or just let loose and give them a good show!
Ghetto Zumba is a sweaty and infectious class, great for people bored of their normal workout routine and wanting to mix things up. It's so infectious, in fact, that I've continued attending since my holiday just to avoid the winter blues (and to sweat out the last of those fruit ciders).
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