Where? Portobello Green Fitness Centre
I went in wanting to hate it. Everyone and their mother (literally) had raved about it. And like the serious athlete I am (or once was) I had offered them a grimace packed to the brim with derision. Because that is the judgemental kind of wanker I am.
I lined up for the ever popular Women’s Only Sunday evening. £4 from 5.30-8. And two classes if you fancy it. As with every other time I have attended I was utterly baffled once I got in the gym as to who all these women with perfect makeup, bouncy ponytails and fluoro sportswear were. Where did they come from? Then I would slowly realise I had already seen them and in some cases chatted to them in the queue. But they had all been wearing full face veil and hijab, and my eyeliner recognition was not quite up to snuff.
The instructor was wearing a cap. Indoors. In the evening. This bothered me. I was willing to overlook the Zumba branded cargo street dance trousers, after all she was probably payed a commission to advertise the brand. The cap however just said in simple embroidery ‘life is good’. It’s not the sentiment that I disagreed with. It’s a nice slogan. Uplifting even. But the article of clothing it was displayed on was both impractical and bizarre.
The instructor bounced over and told me to just enjoy it. I grabbed some teeny hand weights and awkwardly waited for the ‘fun’ to begin. The first few tracks reminded me of an aerobics class I had taken in sixth form, lots of ‘step, step, jump, jump’ it was fine. But before long everything had escalated exponentially.
I became a hip-shimmying lip-biting abomination, but an extremely jolly one. There was a dance circle. A Zumba Dance battle and sing off. A freestyle session to Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’, agreed to as long as we all ‘danced with each other’, it was the fitness equivalent of hand shaking random strangers in the congregation at church, everyone’s smiling and you end up just going with it. The cool down was to Bob Marley’s Don’t Worry.
I’m a convert. So much so that I rang my mother on the way home to try and persuade her to check it out. I’m going back next week. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend a purely Zumba centred fitness regime it is definitely a welcome addition, especially on a Sunday night when it will send you home with a smile and a great mood. Not for the first time in this blog this fitness centre pulled it off with a combination of camaraderie and a community centric feel.