The Long Road to Starting Up.

Starting over is another one of those “chop wood, carry water” jobs. The good news is you can start over at any age–fall in love again, go back to school, learn a new skill–if you want to badly enough. The bad news, is you have to do the work of starting over to start over.

So I showed up at Zumba class tonight. Now that it’s too hot to walk in the early morning, I have to keep getting my exercise somehow–and I tried Zumba. There were about 50 people in the class, everything from young, lithe girls in neon and black outfits with Zumba boots (a cross between Cuban-heeled boots and sneakers) to lithe girls in leggings and sneakers. I did not blend in. The music was loud with a strong beat, and the regulars fell into the patterns easily.

Zumba is a cross between line dancing, jumping jacks, belly dancing, rhythmic moves, hand motions and a lot of booty-shaking dances. I lived through the hour, just barely. But I reached my goal: I dripped sweat and I made it through the hour. I felt awkward and out of place, but I kept going.

The secret to most successes in life is to keep going. Some women looked at me and then looked away. But most of them were working hard. I can honor that, that frankly, I don’t care what they are thinking. I stayed for the hour and although Zumba may well mean “let’s kill the newbie,” I saw potential. Nope,  I will never be a graceful dancer. But I may become more flexible, lose some weight, and get those troublesome arms toned. And that’s the goal–flexible, toned arms, exercise.

Oh, and I served as a mentor. The younger, slimmer woman behind me said, “If YOU can do it, I can do it.” And she was right. (Even if she did leave 15 minutes early.)

Starting over almost always feels awkward and often makes you feel dumb, different and deluded. If you let that stop you, you will have to start over again, and the next time, it will be harder. Know your goal, and keep moving toward it.

Who knows? By the time it cools down, I may continue to Zumba. That is, if I can manage to walk tomorrow.

-Quinn McDonald is happy she made it through Zumba tonight. She thinks she’ll make it through a few more times. She’s a creativity coach and has to give good example.

26 thoughts on “The Long Road to Starting Up.

  1. I am really out of this blog this time. My starting over was going to college (double major in 3 yrs) at 40, getting my masters at 48 and adopting a family of 4 (all under 6) as a single (non relative) parent at 52. My exercise is getting them to their activities!

  2. I second a vote for nia!! I have been taking it since Feb and after a few weeks started to be able to see improvement in my movements. It does make you sweat, check it out!

  3. Zumba is amazing. What I am missing most post foot surgery is my twice weekly zumba classes. I wear merrils barefoot shoes or capezio dance shoes to class….And I am older than you, Quinn!! 🙂

  4. You rock! To get through a zumba class is not easy from what I hear and you did it and plan to go back for more. Bravo!!! I’m lifting 5 pound weights to help keep my upper body and arms toned and flexible. Seems that I have worn away the cartilege in both shoulders so I have to take it easy, but I am determined to keep my upper body in as good a shape as possible. Getting older is not for the faint of heart! LOL

  5. I am meeting a violin instructor tomorrow to start the process of learning the violin. (It’s my birthday present to myself!) I am not sure if this is going to be the best idea I’ve ever had or just the craziest, but I am vowing to have fun with it, and not focus too much on the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing. Everyone at my house is getting earplugs for my birthday!

    • See, I think tackling something new is courageous and opens the door to fun. You might turn out to be brilliant and to love the violin! Your family will be grateful you didn’t decide to play the tympani or tuba! Let us know if you enjoy the lessons.

  6. When spinning first started to become popular, for the longest time I thought it meant spinning in place like a whirling Dervish. I thought it was a new form of meditation/exercise. Then finally I discovered it was riding a stationary bike. I’m sticking with plain old yoga (and am fortunate enough now to have a real master yoga teacher 5 minutes from where I live. Just started with him a month ago and what a difference having a real teacher makes!) Good luck, Quinn and thanks for sharing all your enlightening experiences with us.

    • Spinning means riding an exercise bike?!? But wasn’t that (the dervish kind) what the airhead valley girl character did in LA Story?

    • I was confused about spinning the first time I heard about it, too. Stationary bikes have been around forever, and “spinning” was just a new spin on the word. Yoga is something I still aspire to, but I need to get in better cardio shape first. And you are so right–the right teacher makes all the difference. I’m so glad you found one.

  7. Good for you Quinn! I don’t enjoy taking classes and am so uncoordinated that I am truly afraid what I would look like in Zumba class. I was hoping to wake up earlier this morning and go for my walk and do A Mountain 3 times but alas, I didn’t make it. I’ll do some laps in the pool (not officially laps if I’m holding onto a raft but still great exercise that gets my heart rate up).

    I’m definitely trying to switch up my workout routine but it’s difficult. I wish we lived a little closer to each other; I would gladly join you to see if just one or both of us died in class, haha.

    • I’m hugely uncoordinated, Traci. But my goal is not to be an excellent dancer, my goal is to sweat. And sweat I do. Slowly, I’m letting go of my ego and embarrassment. It’s good work to focus and see if I can learn this. If not, well, OK, but I’m still exercising. I wish we lived closer, too. Just the encouragement would keep me alive.

  8. i have heard one should “do” a new pattern for three weeks or so, to change one’s pattern of behavior…haven’t tried zumba[ am one of those also challenged when moving through space- my left is other’s right, and my right is other’s left]. i admire your gumption and fortitude…..and the exmaple set for others…your words, again, were an enjoyable start for my day. thank you.

    • I have the exact same problem with space-time continuum, which is exactly why I took this. Huge challenge on every step, but so different, I don’t have to feel stupid, just astonished. That got me through the first hour.

  9. Quinn: Have you tried Nia? It’s also a “fusion” exercise: a blend of dance, martial arts, and healing arts (yoga, Feldenkrais, etc.). It’s a “no impact aerobics” that you do in bare feet- which for my old, creaky knees and lower back issues is a good fit. I’m pretty sure they have Nia classes in Phoenix. (I’m thinking that’s where you live?) But whether Zumba (which means “beat me, hurt me, make me write bad checks”) or Nia, the same “starting over” dynamics apply to each. Beginner’s mind and all that.

    • OK, I had to laugh. The blend of martial arts and healing is funny–beat ’em up, then fix ’em up. I’ve never heard of Nia, so I’ll have to look into it. I took martial arts for years and loved it. And I’ve heard of Feldendrais, so I’ll have to check into Nia. Thanks for expanding information!

  10. People often refer to some bit of popular culture I’m supposed to have in common with them — having seen even one episode of The Brady Bunch or being familiar with popular music — and I never get the references.

    It’s still happening; not only have I never heard of Zumba, I have no idea what Cuban-heeled boots might be.

  11. Good luck. I took a spinning class this spring—something totally new for me. I vowed to stick with it for six weeks and I did! I was just proud to keep up and probably would have continued except for the fact that it was clear across town and was scheduled at 5 p.m…….a bad time for me. Still…..I did what I committed to do, didn’t pass out, and didn’t fall off the bike. Something to be said for that.

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