Zumba is a Latin dance-based fitness craze that has been sweeping the nation since the 1990s. When my mom was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 2013, when I was 19 years old, I needed a way to cope.
It was during this time that I started trying several new workout classes and fitness routines. I’d mostly been a runner up until that point, but I needed more exercise to keep the pain and anxiety at bay. I tried rock climbing, yoga, surfing, and also continued running. I even trained for a half marathon during that time. Even though all of these exercise forms were unique in their own way, I felt that Zumba was especially so.
Zumba was empowering for me. I’d never been a dancer, though I always loved it. Dancing really is a way to express oneself with the body in a way that words can’t. When I’d dance in Zumba class, it almost felt like time didn’t exist. It was a workout, but it was more fun than any other workout I’d ever participated in.
Zumba helped me forget about the painful experience I was going through. It was a healthy escape from my problems and it was just what I needed. It improved my self-confidence to watch myself get better and better at dancing and following a routine. Following a dance routine was something I’d always considered myself to be bad at but Zumba helped me reverse that notion about myself.
People sometimes laugh or think it’s strange when I tell them I love Zumba, especially being in my 20s. I suppose the name is a bit funny, and perhaps it brings up connotations of old people, jazzercise, or something cheesy. They don’t understand how healing and important it has been for me on my journey.
Trauma gets stored in the body — not just on an emotional level, but on a physical one as well. Any sort of movement and exercise is good for allowing the chaotic emotions we might feel when experiencing a traumatic situation to be expressed from the body. Zumba was a fun way for me to experience healing on that level as well.
I still take Zumba classes from time to time and it’s always a lot of fun. I’d highly recommend trying it if you haven’t already. Sometimes people are afraid to try it because they might think they wouldn’t be good at it, but it really is good for people at any level. You don’t even have to follow the steps. Plus, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get. I’ve come to believe that dancing is part of our nature as humans. Look at children who dance without inhibition when they hear music they love. It really does bring out some sort of primal emotions to inhabit the body in such a free-flowing manner.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You.
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