Like many of our other posts, our goal is to motivate you to get moving. We know that adding exercise into your life is hard enough, and finding fun things to do that don't require basic rhythm skills can be challenging. You probably have a natural urge to move to the music; it's fun, energizing, and oddly therapeutic. We'll let you in on a little secret: you don't need the best rhythm to dance, you need the right attitude. Here are some tips to help you feel more confident in your next Zumba class.
1. Just Show Up
The most important thing to do in any new endeavor is to show up. So leave Self-Criticism Sally at the door and say goodbye to Perfectionist Patty. You're here for the fun of it, or you should be. Let yourself get lost in the beat of the music and open yourself up to the experience of feeling your body move.
2. Pick a Prime Spot
Okay, we know you'll want to run for the last row. That's normal. But no one is watching you, despite how it might seem. Half the room feels just like you, too busy figuring it out to notice, and the other half is lost in the fun of it because they've learned to let go. So grab a prime spot, typically in the middle of the first or second row, which will give you the best view of the instructor and help you learn the moves.
3. Dress for Success
They say clothes make the (wo)man, right? So be sure to dress for the part. Get the right shoes, wear the right clothes, and bring the right accessories (like a water bottle and towel). The shoes are especially important because they will support your feet and knees, which take a lot of the impact of Zumba.
4. Pace Yourself, But Keep Moving
You might not be able to keep up in your first few classes. Whether that's because it moves too fast and you're still learning, or you aren't as in shape as you'd like, it's okay to pace yourself. The important thing is to keep moving. If you need to slow down, jog or salsa in place at whatever pace works for you until you're ready to get back into the groove.
5. Appreciate the Learning Curve
No matter how quick to learn you are, there will be a learning curve, especially if you lack rhythm. You might get frustrated that you missed a move, but as with everything new you try, failure is part of the game. It builds character, and besides, the journey is half the fun.
6. Find a Friend
Most people don't like to do things alone, and that's especially true when trying something new. Ask a friend to join you or make new friends in class. Some people recommend finding ones as equally rhythm-deficient, but you might also benefit from a friend that knows their stuff dancing right next to you.
7. Learn the Language
If you're unsure what the Zumba teacher is saying and feel like you're listening to a foreign language, you're not alone. The first few times might feel a bit weird as you learn what the words mean, counts work, and moves represent. Try observing a class to listen to the instructor and watch the movements. It helps, and when it's time to start moving to the music, your brain will be primed to put two and two together.
8. Prep Your Performance
Timing is a skill you'll need to learn, which is harder for someone with rhythm difficulties. A little beat practice will help. Try tapping your foot to some music to feel and hear the beat. That beat is what you're going to move to, so it helps to get yourself primed for the pace. Also, focus on your feet first. This is where the movements stem from. Once you have your feet and legs down, you can start moving your hands in Zumba fashion, too. This way, you're only learning one thing at a time.
9. Get Help from Your Hips
One of the easiest ways to look and feel confident in Zumba is by moving your hips. Bend your knees, which will take some of the pressure off your legs and back. Then, move your hips one side at a time to the beat. It's almost like instant rhythm. After all, who doesn't want to dance like J-Lo?
10. Work it When You Know It
Know the song playing? Love to salsa? Well, work it, girl! It's your time to shine. Get a little freaky when your favorite song comes on. Or really get into the salsa portion of Zumba. This will help build your confidence because it's something you're already good at.
11. Practice Outside of Class
What's one of the best ways to get better at something? Practice, of course. It's why we get homework in school and why we get up and try again after failure. Keep track of some of the songs from class and play them again when you're at home. Practice hearing the beat, feeling the rhythm, and practicing the moves. By the next class, you'll feel a bit more confident.
12. Be Accepting of Yourself
You are going to mess up. Even the best dancers do. And you may never look as graceful as some of the other class members. But you are you, uniquely made, lack of rhythm and all. So take a step back, don't be so hard on yourself, and have a little fun.
Congrats, You've Got (Some) Rhythm!
No, you may not be a rhythm queen after trying all these tips, but you will likely have more rhythm. And you'll undoubtedly feel more confident. Give it a go, and let us know how it works out for you.