“Get your sexy on, ladies!” shouts Danna, our cheerful instructor. “What happens in Zumba stays in Zumba!” Danna leads us in moves that were practically illegal when I was growing up. I clearly remember “Elvis the Pelvis” when he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on September 9,1956. His hip gyrations were the talk of the town, and they were mild compared to what we do in class!
Women of all ages go to Zumba, but sometimes I look around and realize I am the oldest person in the room and wish more of my boomer buddies would show up. I have yet to see a man in class, although the trend was started by a Colombian dancer and choreographer, Alberto “Beto” Perez. The craze started in the 90s and quickly spread across the world. When I moved to Atenas, Costa Rica, I was delighted to find Zumba in town at the local community center, Su Espacio.
Due to the transient population known as the “Snowbirds” (people who winter here to escape severe weather), the size of the class varies with the season. No matter if there are two or twenty in class, Danna keeps up the energy and enthusiasm with comments like: “Great job y’all!” Yup, she’s from Texas. Growing up in the Dallas area, she enjoyed lessons in ballet, tap, gymnastics, jazz, and became a cheerleader in high school.
Danna moved to Costa Rica about five years ago with her husband and two young children much to the surprise of her well-established family. She left a fancy lifestyle, where she enjoyed a life of privilege, drove a BMW, and attended the right parties dressed in the latest designer outfits. She wanted something more for her family; she was feeling soul-less. She found it in Costa Rica. The phrase “less is more” took on the true meaning; she’s happier with less stuff and more fun.
Her face lights up when she talks about Zumba. She exclaimed: “I love moving to the music!” It has become a large part of who she is. Wanting to share her joy of dance, she flew back to the states to get her official Zumba certification. Although she speaks Spanish proficiently, she wanted to absorb every nuance of the training so flying back to her homeland to learn it in her native tongue was what she did.
Not long ago, Danna wasn’t feeling her usual high-energy self. After investigating, she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism as well as adrenal fatigue. She takes good care to protect her adrenals as straining them could have serious consequences. She was advised to slow down, take up yoga and forget Zumba. Forget Zumba?! Nope, not doing that. Although she did take up yoga, she just digs in and teaches Zumba anyway. She tempers herself and takes it down a notch or two. You couldn’t prove it by me; any more exuberance and she would take flight!
“It’s hard!” She yells in class. “Come on ladies, it’s hard for me, too!” which spurs us on to the driving beat of salsa, merengue, bachata, in addition to her favorite tunes by Bruno Mars and Macklemore. A word of caution to my fellow boomers: Do NOT listen to the words! If our parents thought the lyrics of rock ‘n roll were raunchy, they would jump out of their skins if they heard the words in today’s rap songs!
Danna seeks to raise awareness of health issues that are plaguing modern society. She started an educational page on Facebook called “Thyroid Nation” where she posts information on healthy foods and healthy habits. She has concerns about thyroid problems becoming an epidemic and wants to help others as she helps herself. Visit her page at http://www.thyroidnation.com
She’s also hoping Zumba will come up with a new platform due to the vast number of thyroid sufferers world wide. I was shocked to learn there are close to 200 million!
I’m one of them. A routine blood test revealed I was hypothyroid when I was in my early 30s. It has never stopped me from being a high-energy, active person and, like Danna, I refuse to give up!
Meanwhile, I choose to keep moving and not stagnate. Zumba on!