What I Learned from my Mom’s Zumba Class

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About Alex Pollack

Alex Pollack is a law student at the University of Tennessee. His essay "Jewish Law Student Seeks Blonde, Southern Belle" was recentlypublished in Jewcy.


  1. Alex, Thanks for the fun article on Mom and Zumba. I don’t know how I’d feel if my Mom was teaching Zumba, but when a close friend said she was starting a Zumba class and would I come and support her, I said, “Sure.!” I had no idea what Zumba was, but Maddy is my friend and I’m certainly up for supporting a friend by going to a class. Well, it was a bit strange, being the only guy with a bunch of women, but I’ve never been afraid to do things a bit different, and I’ve always liked blurring the gender lines.

    Turned out I liked the music (mostly Latin) and I liked the exercise and I liked being with friends. My wife tried it, but she likes Curves and Yoga and slower, quieter movement.

    I’ve been going to Zumba 3 times a week for 3 years now. Not only am I the only guy (although I keep telling my guy friends its fun. I can get a few to try it, but no one seems to want to stick with it. Not sure what makes it so fun for many women and so “not fun” for so many men), but I’m the oldest person. At age 70 I believe that shaking my booty will keep my body in shape, prevent back problems and other infirmities of aging.

    Have any other guys here at Good Men tried Zumba. Why did you try it? Why did you continue or not?

    As for me, I may just be doing Zumba when I’m 100. Why not? Someone has to hang out with all those hot, sweaty women. And my wife even encourages me.

    But they, I

    • FlyingKal says:

      I tried it.
      Living in a rural area, there’s not all that much options for regular gym exercices during the dark and wet seasons. I tried it on recommendations from a couple of (female) friends.
      Unfortunately, the instructor lacked timing, or “feeling” for the beats in the music. She was alwys off, either before or after. And trying to look at her and follow the rythm at the same time made me nauseated in the end. So I stopped going after a couple of times.

      Otherwise, I liked the concept. Just sorry about the instructor.

  2. Nice Alex!

    As a woman who has taken alot of gym classes, it’s always nice and welcomed when a man is in the class. It’s actually pretty rare to get men in gym classes unless it’s boxing or weight lifting.

    I will also say that I think a lot of men might be surprised the level of fitness alot of women are capable of varying ages and body types. I know a lot of women who make health and fitness a regular part of their lives but who don’t have perfectly trim little bodies that one might primarily associate with fitness. I see more older women make strikes to push their limits in gym classes and I hope we can encourage more men to see these as viable options for themselves too.

    • Theorema Egregium says:

      I have a question to you there:
      You say men are always welcome in gym classes, not least for the sake of variety.

      On the other hand there’s a lot of women-only gyms and they are frequented too. I understand that women can feel stressed by the presence of men. Even discounting incidents of cat-calling or inappropriate hitting on or outright sexual harassments, it is argued that women feel pressured to look attractive and are afraid to wear loose, plain clothes and go without makeup when men are around. I cannot totally understand that because I believe the harshest judgement of female looks occur not by men but between women themselves, but if they say those reasons are there, who am I to disagree?

      So there are those two incompatible notions. How can you solve that puzzle? Is it as so often a case of not all people are the same and to some women applies the one scenario and to others the other one?

      • Well Theorema, I’ve personally actually have received more judgement and comments about my body from other men then I ever had another woman. I have found women to be largely supportive of one another.So it’s been my experience that men are actually harsher judges of women’s looks.

        Secondly, I think if you are a woman choosing to go to an all woman gym, then yes, you probably don’t want men to be aroudn while you are working out. However, the gym I belonged to (I have since moved to another state) was associated with a local hospital and had a wide range of clientele. There were older people, younger people, people recovering from accidents or surgery, people who were super fit…but whatever people there was, there was always a lot of diversity. And that made it more comfortable for me. I know that certain gyms sometimes attrack different clientele. The gym I belonged to fit for me. And that’s really what it’s about. And I know for me, and having taken a lot of classes over the years, it is infact rare to see men in them and when men are in them, and they are regulars, they usually develop gym friendships with the ladies in the class.

        So yes, not all people are the same. Some feel more comfortable around men then others. I don’t think we should vilify women who may not feel comfortable working out around men. I think all we can conclude from that is that they don’t have the confidence about themselves or their bodies to be okay in that situation.

        • Theorema Egregium says:

          Thank you for your answer!

          About the judgements, I had a female colleague at university say about another colleague (who was a ballett dancer and in terrific shape): “Well, if you’d cut off her head she might end up looking pretty.” And I never heard a man say anything remotely as vile as this about a woman (apart from ridiculous adolescent antics of 14-year-olds who try to show how “alpha” they are by calling Angelina Jolie or Halle Berry “fugly”). Just my personal experience. It may be not statistically significant but it is all I have.

          I am not vilifying anybody at all. Like I said, I can’t judge women’s fears and aversions and have no right to.

          But talking of aversions: The gym where I am working out has a women’s area which has a very forbidding door with a “no men allowed” sign on it like a traffic sign. The men’s area, including the men’s locker room has a glass window on the door and no sign at all. In fact I was shocked to see that often there’s female cleaning staff at work in the room while men all around are getting undressed or in the shower (which is not seperated by a door).

          Do I have a right to privacy at all? In theory maybe yes, but in the real world the truth is, that I don’t. If I complained about potentially being watched by women while I change my clothes they would not even understand my concern. I’ll just have to get used to the fact that some options are only for women.

          • We all have our experiences Theorema. I’ve heard men joke about putting a bag over a woman’s head just to sleep with her. Perhaps the lesson for both of us is that both men and women are capable of being cruel.

            I could see how a gym that was co-ed, but had different rooms where only women or men were allowed would breed a little tension. And I can understand your concern there.

  3. Theorema Egregium says:

    I may be neurotic as two Woody Allens, but when I first went to Yoga classes I triple-checked if men were even allowed there. That studio was in the tradition of two male Indian sages and Yoga masters, and I did my best to remind me that throughout most of its history Yoga had in fact been allowed ONLY to men, but still as I opened the door at the studio I felt as if entering enemy territory. The fact that 75% of the students and most of the teachers were female didn’t exactly help.

    That uncomfortable feeling vanished within 2 months. But still it is funny how a few years can turn something traditionally male into something where men barely dare to enter.

    I understand it is similar with Zumba? After all it was developed by a man, and nowhere have I read that is intended for women. But it seems to be the popular notion. Maybe because it has to do with dancing? After all ballroom dancing these days also has the reputation of unmanliness, although it by definition takes a mixed couple to do and has traditional gender roles woven into its very fabric. But on the other hand that male aversion to a physical activity because it is close to dancing does not at all apply to Capoeira, for example. I don’t understand it.

    • Theorema, I suspect that a lot of men in America, at least, don’t often seem to parcipate in classes very often because of prescriped ideas of masculinity. Not because women are sending out death beam signals that they aren’t welcome.

      At one point, Yoga might have only been allowed to be practiced by men but that wasn’t historically the tradition in America to begin with. I don’t think most American men, even historically, made Yoga a big part of their day. SO I am not sure in the context of where I live, that it was so much about Yoga once being a mans’ game and now is a woman’s so much so as women’s interest in Yoga drove the popularity and now more men are also seeing it as viable option.

      • Theorema Egregium says:

        Thank you. I agree totally with your estimate, but I must correct you in one small point: I am not American nor have I ever set foot on the continent. Though in some respects the social situation in all of the “western world” is similar, in other respects it is quite diverse. Please check the cultural imperialism contained in the implicit assumption that everybody on the internet is a US citizen, unless explicitely stated otherwise.

        It is bad enough for us to be fed with a steady diet of US movies, consumer products and politics.

        • I never assumed you were American. I only spoke of America because that’s where I live. And yes, I am proud to be an American. Even though we have a long way to go. I’m sorry you find our culture so offensive that movies, consumer products and politics are that distateful.

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