I remember her first class like it was yesterday. She came to try Zumba at a gym where I taught, having never done it before. She wore a flowy dress with tights and tennis shoes, a pair of huge sunglasses, and she blew bubbles and laughed through the entire class. She couldn’t do a whole lot, but she didn’t care. She enjoyed the music, moved along with it, and had a total blast. I loved having her, and made sure she knew I wanted her to come back. “Really?” she asked, “I can’t dance a step.” “Really,” I said, “I don’t care.”
For the next year, she attended my Zumba classes regularly. At first I noticed she lost the dress, and replaced it sweat pants. Then yoga pants, then leggings. The hair that was always in her face at first and the sunglasses that covered her eyes vanished, and she started putting her long, beautiful hair in a ponytail. Gone too was the gum that seemed to always keep her company during class- her huge, infectious smile replaced it. She shined. Her eyes, her smile. She made everyone else smile too.
She began to move with more freedom, really letting her body go. I could see her changing, becoming more confident, more self-assured, and definitely more fit. I would challenge her with my eyes to be more free, and she would respond with a hair toss, or a shimmy, or an extra wiggle. It was amazing to witness.
To me, an internal transformation is always so powerful. Her inner light was so bright that I don’t think I focused as much on the physical changes taking place simultaneously. So I was totally shocked when one day after class, she charged up to me, picked me up in a bear hug that took me off my feet, and screamed “80 pounds! I’ve lost 80 pounds taking your class!”
WHAT???? Are you serious???? Yep. She was. 80 pounds. Doing Zumba with me for a year. I love that she met her fitness goal by taking my class. I love more that on her journey, she learned to let her light shine. She gained the self-confidence to move back to the East coast and re-claim a life she wanted to return to for some time. I got a note from her a few months after she moved. She got certified to teach Zumba.