At least Timmy had Lassie when he kept slipping down the well. Scrappy isn't interested in making that kind of effort.

This is the story of my slippery slide into a depressive state complicated by my brain function crapping out. You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

*****

Zumba is fun, right? Enthusiastic testimonials abound from people…women of all ages and weight classes…abilities about how “fantastic,” “hip,” and “groovy” Zumba class is (remember, I said “all ages”). This is direct quote from some people who should know all about Zumba; it’s from a site called Zumba.com: “Are you ready to party yourself into shape? That’s exactly what the Zumba® program is all about. It’s an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™ that’s moving millions of people toward joy and health.” (I put it in red to keep the Latin flavor of the quote.)

Exhilarating!

  • Am I ready to get in shape? YES!
  • Is Zumba worth a try? YES! It’s exhilarating (more so than bird-watching; less so than cliff-diving–perfect), effective (my butt could use a face lift…little toning), easy-to-follow (great, since I’d do better as a “private dancer” than a member of a chorus line), it’s like a dance party (I love to dance), and millions of people are enjoying it (so that must include people like me).

My Wellness Center has several Zumba classes, even one in the pool (which I thought best not to try as a beginner). “Zumba Gold” is offered twice a week for really old and sick…shimmy and skipping challenged people…women. It’s billed as “Zumba Lite.” I decided to give it try. As unfortune would have it, the Zumba Gold class is scheduled right after the one hour Agony Pilates class I take. What possessed me to stay for the class after an hour of gut-wrenching “core work”? I’m currently consulting an Exorcist…a therapist to find out (you can guess what kind: mental health, physical health, sexual health Exorcist… therapist).

Maybe that was my excuse for a heap of bad decisions 30 years ago, but not now.

Here’s what happened as best as I can recall:

Zumba Class is held in the same living-room sized room as the Pilates class with the same instructor. It’s important to note that one long wall is lined with mirrors. Some of the same women who grunted and groaned…exercised their core with grace and discipline with me stayed for Zumba Gold. They are all older and heavier than I am. As the minutes to the class counted down, more middle-aged and older heavy-set women came in, some decked out with be-bangled hip scarves. These women were Hard Core Golden Girl Zumbies. I made sure everyone around me, including Super-Fit 30ish Instructor, knew that I was new to Zumba.

When these 3 came in, I knew I was in trouble.

“Oh, it’s so fun and easy! Just relax and have fun. We repeat the steps so much, you’ll be a pro in no time.” Several of them said this nearly word-for-word. Was this their standard pitch to all old new-comers?

The room was as crowded as a Weight Watcher’s Meeting after the holidays. I stood behind Super-Fit Instructor and tried to clear enough space for some elbow room. With bright fluorescent lights and the loud Latin music, the class began. Before I knew it, I was part of a choppy sea of multi-colored mammals looking as if we too close to shore: kicking, turning around, and flapping about.

I watched Super-Fit Instructor’s feet and her upper body with live-or-die attention. Just when I had the moves down, the song ended; then a new learning curve threw me for a loop. I was also watching the others (selfish safety concerns). I could see them all around me and reflected back at me in the wall of mirrors that amplified everything. I saw me in the mirror, too, which was demoralizing. I’m a way better dancer in my mind’s eye than in my eye’s eye. All this focusing and noticing were taxing my HSP brain.

Mirrors are not my friends; closed eyes are by BFs.

After 45 minutes into the class, my brain put up a “Closed For Business” sign. I couldn’t follow the most dance steps. When I backed away to the door, a woman asked me if I was alright. I just looked at her; I couldn’t answer. After the amount of energy it takes to deliver a closing argument before the Supreme Court, I managed to squeak out, “Um. Whoo. Tired.” She said, “Oh, stay, there’s only 15 minutes left and it’s mostly cooling down.”

I wanted to leave, but I just nodded an “okay.” Arguing with her took brain power–something I didn’t have. I stayed in the back and shuffled around for the next 15 minutes, staying exposed to and absorbing all that movement, those lights, that noise. Some party…

Lights appear to be on, but the screen is frozen.

After the class, I stayed pinned to the wall. Super-Fit-Kind-Instructor asked me how the class was, telling me I did great. I bet she says that to all the spasmodics in her class. At first, I could only talk in one-word sentences. Imagine that. Me. One. Word. Sentences. That’s when I started hyperventilating. And crying. The snappy ad for Zumba didn’t mention anything about crying and panic attacks.

There's no crying in Zumba either...

Super-Fit-Kind-Instructor hugged me and apologized. I apologized for making her feel badly then pulled myself together enough to get out and to my car where I had a regulation melt-down.

*****

I haven’t been quite the same since then (2 weeks ago). When your “central processing unit” crashes, recovery isn’t always just a phone call away. And I certainly can’t replace my 54-year-old computing system with the newest technology.

Is there a "Reset Brain" knob or dial?

So after pretending that everything is fine (Plan A) failed, I need a new plan. I’ll call that Plan 2. Things have to change around here. What things? This post is long enough. You’ll have to stay tuned to find out. (Isn’t that just like me?)

Plan 2 is ready to launch. And it all started with Zumba...Exhilarating, huh?