Friday, May 3, 2013

Zumba and Writing

I love Zumba. Actually, I love dancing in general. So when Zumba came along, I had to try it.

For those who don't know, here's the definition of Zumba from Wikipedia: "Zumba is a dance fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto "Beto" Perez during the 1990s. Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements. Zumba's choreography incorporates hip-hop, soca, samba, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts, and some Bollywood and belly dance moves. Squats and lunges are also included." It also says approximately 14 million people take a regular weekly Zumba class in the United States alone.

As I dance each week, I'm reminded how Zumba is like writing. And here's why:

1. When you first start out, you have to learn the basic moves. When I first started Zumba, my instructor had to show me each move, one by one, and then she showed me how to string all the moves together in a dance. The same is true for writing. When we first start out, we have to learn all the basic elements of a plot, one by one, before we can string them together into a story.

2. You don't get an optimum workout until you know the dances well. When you first start Zumba, it takes quite a few classes before you have the dance figured out and you don't flail around like a windmill (or, as my sister-in-law says: an epileptic monkey). In those first few (or dozen) classes, you aren't getting an optimum workout, because you haven't mastered the moves. The same is true for writing. Until you have the "moves" mastered, or have a complete understanding of the elements of a story, you aren't going to write at your optimum skill level.

3. It takes a little while to find your "flavor." You have to learn the steps, and then master them, before you can add some "flavor" to your moves. That's when Zumba gets really fun! The same is true for writing. After you learn the elements, and then master them, you find your "flavor" or your "voice" and that's when writing becomes fun!

4. Each dancer has a different "flavor." I always laugh when I watch my instructor and think to myself: "I finally have this dance figured out! I bet I look as good as her!" And then I look at myself in the mirror and think: "Darn it, I don't look anything like my instructor." She has style and a flavor all her own--and because of her skill level, she can really showcase that "flavor" well. I might watch her and follow her movements, but I definitely have my own "flavor"!

5. When you're having fun, it doesn't feel like a workout. Zumba is popular, because it's fun. Who wouldn't have fun dancing to Latin music for an hour? The same is true for writing. I have so much fun with my characters and plot! Some days I look at the clock and I'm shocked that four hours have passed and it felt more like thirty minutes. It's amazing! Now that I know the story elements, and I've found my "voice," writing a 100,000 word manuscript is a ton of fun. Yes, it's still work, and yes, sometimes I have to wipe my figurative brow, but at the end of the day, I've had fun and I've produced something tangible.

What about you? Have you ever done Zumba? If you have, what did you think? If you haven't, what holds you back?


  1. I love dancing, but I've never tried Zumba :) I think we need a video of your moves. I for sure need to try it now. I love the analogy to writing, its perfect.

  2. Never tried Zumba, but then I've shied away from aerobic dance in general because I always look like that epileptic monkey, haha! Nope, just give me a treadmill, and some good music, and I'm a happy camper. :-)

    Great parallels between dance with writing!

  3. I love Zumba but I have lower back problems and the figure 8s sometimes throw me off for days. :(

  4. I've tried Zumba and I like it. It's the time to do it somewhere. Due to time constraints the treadmill normally works out better for me.

  5. Love this comparison! I haven't tried Zumba yet, but I did do some ballroom dancing in college and the Latin dances were my favorites. :)


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