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I’ve had the desire to try Zumba ever since I saw the founder, Beto Perez, on television.  At two o’clock in the morning, my sleep dyslexia in high gear, Beto and the other Zumba dancers filled the screen with their optimism and can-do brand of exuberance.  Super skinny folks mingled with the real people; chunky and smooth peanut butter in one room, all of them dancing to salsa music.

Now that I’m on the dog’s path, I know it’s necessary to change up my fitness routine if I want to be successful—boredom is my enemy.  Therefore, now is a great time to do some Zumba.  Friday before last, I went to one of two local gyms to give it a try.  I thought it would be fun, and it was.  Me and five other women all shaking our booties to the type of upbeat music I don’t have on my i-pod, sweating like field hands, and laughing together.  They all seemed friendly and welcoming, and they didn’t laugh at my lack of Zumba-bility.

I was okay at the part where you kicked one leg and then the other.  When the shimmy appeared, I kept up.  However, Beto designed the Zumba as a work out for your booty, and the genre features a lot of gyrating of said.  This Baptist girl’s hips did not know which way to turn.  By the time the instructor had done the entire rolling sequence of the hips, mine were just getting the “rotate,” message.  And forget about the footwork.


Whatever. I had fun, and I want to do it again.  But before I go again, I need an outfit. All the other women were in tight pants (I think you call them leggings), and they were capris, and they were tight no matter how big the gals were.  My pants went all the way to the ground, and they were loose, and my t-shirt was one of my husband’s old ones and it went almost to my knees.  The extra material flapped almost as much as I did, and it made it hard to see what my body was doing. At least that’s my excuse for not keeping up with the buttock action and the footwork.  I also did not have a headband.  I think you call those sweat bands or something.

Needing an outfit for Zumba has occupied too much of the room in my brain.  The Smothers Brothers’ rendition of The Streets of Laredo morphed into my theme song, the line “If you get an outfit, you can go to Zumba, too,” glommed onto my brain stem like glue.  I looked on line at the famous site created by Kate Hudson.  She says in the commercial, “The girls will like these cute clothes.” I think the clothes are cute. But are they really supposed to touch your skin, all of it? And if you ask the site to show you short sleeved t-shirts, you are treated to a plethora of camisoles, sleeveless with spaghetti straps in the front and with intricate banding in the back that kind of reminds me of the netting you see on a turkey breast.

netting for your athletic wear and your turkey

Wrap your turkey in it, and then use it to hold your camisole together.

In the first place, this girl isn’t walking out of the house without covering up the girls. Those camisoles would definitely show your bra straps, and that ain’t happening.  In the second place, when Kate Hudson refers to girls, I think she means actual girls, as in not women yet.  The fitness models on the site have a decidedly androgynous/adolescent look.  I talk about being a girl, but I only mean it in the figurative sense.  Where are the fitness clothes for the grown up women?

I wanted to go in the Lululemon and find some workout clothes.  My husband and I worked hard for the last thirty years and I think the budget could take whatever Lulu dishes, but I just couldn’t make myself go in there.  I had this preconceived notion that the sizes went from double zero to six. I pictured the salesmen as knowledgeable and perky. Perky people just make me nervous. Sorry if you happen to be perky.

So, I went to the mall and looked through rack after rack of athletic clothes.  Some of the pants are labeled, “Yoga.” Well, that just threw me off.  They looked just like all the other pants, but would a Zumba connoisseur be able to tell I was, in fact, donning yoga pants in a Zumba atmosphere?  I feel pretty sure they’d keep their mouths shut at my Zumba spot in the country,  but what if I went with my daughter to the gym in California and somebody made fun of her mother for wearing the wrong work out duds?  I wouldn’t want that. And nowhere, in that barren tundra that is the mall, was a friendly, emotionally accessible salesperson who would respond to my to yoga pant /or not to yoga pant query with generosity and without condescension.

After looking (and looking, and looking) I had an epiphany.  I went to Ross Dress for Less. Nobody is gonna judge me in the Ross Dress for Less.  I can walk through the check out with a pair of size 15 women’s underwear (that’s some big underwear- and no, not my size), a baseball bat, a beret, and a jock strap, and no one will bat an eye.  In the dressing room, I squeezed into a variety of athletic pants and shirts, and after I picked the outfit that squeezed my skin the least, the dressing room attendant and I engaged in a brief conversation.  She said, “Are you starting to exercise?”  And I told her about being three months into a healthier lifestyle.  She talked about how she needed to get started, too. I had no problem with this non-perky conversation.   Ross Dress for Less is not a perky type of place.  What a relief.


My almost not too tight gear

Now that I have my outfit, I can return to Zumba with a sense of pride in my financially responsible attire. I hope to make Beto and all the other Zumba high-ups proud with my can-do, chunky peanut butter exuberance.   Maybe I’ll even brave the Lululemon one day soon.   I still need a headband and I’m pretty sure they have one in my size.