Tag: Zumba

Stream of consciousness while at Zumba

Today’s weird thought came while I was at Zumba. I’ve been thinking recently about Marcel Proust, James Joyce and modernist literature.

James Joyce and his cat

James Joyce and his cat

The author of the book I am reading at the moment does not like James Joyce. He does not think that James Joyce wrote good books. My book is about the human need for stories (and it is very insightful in many ways).

Does Jonathan Gottschall like cats?

Does Jonathan Gottschall like cats?

The author of this book argues that since James Joyce didn’t write his fiction with a narrative (in fact he was rebelling against the tendency to write in narrative), his books are not widely read today except by academics and students. His argument is: people need stories and people don’t enjoy works of fiction that do not contain stories. I want to challenge his argument (even though I confess that I have failed to enjoy James Joyce). I would like to think that people’s thoughts can be interesting. So let’s test this theory.

This man again?

This man again?

While at Zumba I was thinking of the Joycian style of writing in the stream of consciousness and I began to wonder how my stream of consciousness would read and whether anyone would actually find it interesting (it not being a story as such). So I thought I’d test it by writing a blog entry of my thoughts during the first ten minutes of Zumba today (as accurately as I can remember now, that is, if you believe me when I tell you this is a work of fact not fiction).

So here goes. We join my thoughts just as the music starts…

Oh shit it’s been ages. It’s busy. I’m bound to bang into people. Oh well. Right. Warm up. God I always find the warm up the hardest bit, ironically, I get most tired, or is that normal? Especially after two weeks. I’m so unfit. Hope my heart doesn’t do that thing it does sometimes. It hasn’t done it for ages. Coming back from London that time. That was over a year ago. I haven’t even cycled much recently. Oh well. It’ll be good. Right, leg, oh shit wrong way, left leg, up. Oh arms. Her arms are up, yep, arms. Leg, arms, left no shit right, oh shit no everyone is turning. Turn. Oh left leg, left, knee up. Oh no it is Whitney Houston. Hate that song. Annoys me. Dance with somebody bla crap. Reminds me of school. Didn’t her daughter die today? Something on the radio in the car. In a bath, six months ago. Weird. Didn’t they both die in the bath? That is sad. I do like the kicks. Up. Phew. I can get my leg up quite high. At least I can do that. I can touch my boobie with my leg. I bet not many people can do that. I’ve always been good at leg kicking. I wonder if I could do kick boxing? Oh shit, wrong way again. Left. Forward, shake the hips thing. I can’t do that move at all. Does she go to hip shaking classes? She’s so good at it. I wish I could do that. Bloody hell I’m crap at that. What are we doing tomorrow? Going to Newport. I hope my belly behaves itself. I’m sure it will. I haven’t had beans today. Hope I don’t find too much in the charity shops. Left leg, forward. End of song. Need a drink. Thirsty. Lovely. Better. Open that door! Oh that woman is doing it. Oh like this one. What’s for tea tonight? Sea bass. Like sea bass. But my turn to read story so he can cook it. Good. He cooks it better than me. God I’ve missed this. Left, forward. Oh shit not that way. This way. What shall I do this evening? Don’t want to do work. Bored of work. Worked all day. I need a blog idea. What could I write about? I often think of blog ideas at Zumba. But I’ve done a blog entry on ideas at Zumba. Something to do with Zumba. Oh shit squats. Love these but damn they hurt. And I might slightly need a wee. Bloody diet coke. Wish I hadn’t had that before coming. Bloody pelvic floor exercises. Didn’t do enough. Remember there was a poster in the loos at the John Radcliffe. They used to say ‘do you want to smell like the old ladies in Chipping Norton?’ Not that that got me doing them. I do remember there being lots of old ladies in Chipping Norton but they didn’t smell. Perhaps I could write about what songs I hate doing when I need a wee.  That jumping one. That is a killer when you need a wee. As is that wriggle bottom one. And Pitbull Fireball. Love that song though. This one now for starters. God my thighs. Agh. Am I the only person in agony? I need to cycle more. Hard in the holidays. Get fat in the holidays. Ough. Oh my toe feels odd. What’s that? Perhaps I am falling apart. I’m getting old. I hate being old. I don’t want to fall apart. I can imagine the doctor saying you have something awful in your toe that makes you bed ridden. That would kill me. I’d hate it. I could paint though still, like Frieda Kahlo in that film. She painted in bed. I could be famous. Right. End of song. Drink. That’s better. Oh what is next, oh that one. I like that one. I know the moves. Not too strenuous. Good. Back in my spot. Do we have any wine left? Oh yes, a bit. Like wine. Wine on a Monday. What a treat. Wine after Zumba? Sometimes my teeth hurt when I drink at Zumba. Why is that? God I’m falling apart. I hate being old. Feels bad my toe does but oh well. He won’t want the wine with tea, he’s being all healthy and shit. Good, I’ll have it. Nice. With cheese. Oh not having cheese for tea. Luke reckons cheese is good for you, nibbling between meals. How can that be so? I love cheese. Hmm is the stage better here or there? I quite liked it there. But feels more room now. Dunno. The school play was good. Oh gosh was that two weeks ago already. God. One week gone, six to go. Going to Newport tomorrow. I hope I remember it is earlier than usual. Oh damn it everyone is going the other way, clash into poor Janice again. Shit. Sorry.  Oh I think I have a pen attached to me. That could be a blog entry. Why I feel the need to have a pen with me at all times. Why is that? Is it my security blanket? Left leg, forward, hip wriggle. I can’t do that move at all. I just don’t have sexy hips! Like whatseface Shekera or whatever. I wish. Right what to do with this pen. I could have stabbed myself with that. I could have ended up in A&E with a pen in my oesophagus. That would be nasty. I might die. Shit the news would say woman dies at Zumba due to pen attached to top. No. Not good. Better put it in bag at end of next song. Oh shit I need to email Lawrence and check FileMaker. I must remember to do that. Forgot. Alysoun is bound to email me lots of stuff tomorrow. Royalties. But going to Newport so I’ll have to do it after that. Need to text Shell about tomorrow. Luke at Isaac’s house. Mustn’t forget. Oh no new song. This is going to be fun. Legs. Oh shit, left, right, arms are moving too. I’ll just copy Janice. Perhaps this wasn’t new to everyone else. I seem to be the only total spanner here today. I like this one though. Eugh someone has botty burped. Nice. Armpits. I hope mine don’t smell too much. Oh no I did that thing when she crosses her arms to mean cross your legs and I think she means cross your arms. Embarrassing. What else are we doing this week? Can’t remember. What shall I wear tomorrow in Newport? The Boden dress? No. What else? I like that dress though. Oh shit everyone is going the other way again.

What was I thinking?

What was I thinking?

I think I’d better stop there. But wasn’t that fun? Are you still with me, dear reader? That was a piece of my mind. That was exhausting. But the question is: does it make a good ‘story’ or is it really just pure dross?



There are two easy ways to burn more calories at Zumba

This is the weird thought I had today at Zumba.

Last week, a fellow Zumbaite posted this video to Facebook. I watched this, and my first thought was that the women in the video surely were not happy with their hair flailing around untamed. They looked happy but I didn’t believe that anyone could be happy with hair in front of their eyes and getting in their mouths. I always tie my hair back for Zumba to stop that happening. It seems common sense to me. My friend responded to my doubts about the hair thing with: ‘Swishing ones hair is all part of the look! Love a bit of swishing!‘.

This is before the hair swishing began

This is before the hair swishing begins

So today at Zumba I decided that I’d dance with my hair lose to see what it would be like. And I am so glad I did. I felt that I really did get into it more. I felt like one of those well-toned swishing hair ladies (even if the reality is far from that) and that feeling made me dance more, lift my legs higher, swish my arms about further and jump more madly. I loved dancing with my hair loose. It was like being back in the Lemmy on a Friday night circa 1991.

I swooshed my hair here most Friday and Saturday nights in the early 1990s

Where I swooshed my hair most Friday and Saturday nights in the early 1990s

So what is the other way to burn more calories, I hear you ask?

The answer is: dance in front of a fan. Today at Zumba, due to  the warmer weather, we had two large fans blowing cool air at us and I happened to be positioned in front of one of them. This aided the swooshing feeling with the hair, and also helped me jump up and down more as I wasn’t quite so hot as normal. I felt like a Wella shampoo advert. I had a brilliant Zumba session today.

Dance in front of this

Dance in front of this

I truly believe that long hair and a fan help increase the calorie burn rate. I need to borrow one of those calorie burn rate calculator wrist things to test my theory.

Not everyone has long hair though so they won’t be able to try this method (or half of it – fans are easy to come by). To those unfortunate people, I’d suggest borrowing a wig. I am sure that it will work. It just needs to be tested before I spread the word around the world.

Is she wearing a wig?

Is she wearing a wig?


Why don’t men go to Zumba?

This was the weird thought I had a Zumba today. I’ve been going to Zumba now for about two-and-a-half years and I only remember there being two brief appearances by two men. One was a dad of a boy in my son’s class and I think he came for about four sessions (he told me he enjoyed it but I know he works shifts so perhaps that was the reason he didn’t persevere with it). The other was a friend of a friend who came once (he was young and fit and as far as I remember, he was good at it, so not sure why he stopped). Why don’t men come? Don’t they know how amazing Zumba is?

Can you see any men? No?

Can you see any men? No?

I find this quite ironic considering that the person who conceived the idea was a man: Alberto “Beto” Perez.

Men  come to Zumba and you could look like this!

Zumba needs YOU!

Look at him? Surely he’s a fantastic advertisement for men-at-Zumba. Perhaps it is just the men of Shrewsbury who shy away to shaking their bits vigorously to Pitbull or Uptown Funk. I have only been to Zumba in Shrewbsury and only at my sons’ school so I haven’t carried out a particularly extensive survey.

There’s a lot about Zumba to appeal to men, besides the beautiful women and the great music. It’s a great way to get fit. It’s a great way to get muscles like Mr Beto. You too could look like this.

Perhaps men worry about lacking the coordination to do the moves. However, that doesn’t stop me from going.


Why do I always stand in the same place at Zumba?

I’ve now been going to Zumba for nearly three years. It is part of my Monday evening routine. And since I’ve been going I’ve stayed in more-or-less the same spot. I think I used to be further back than I am now. So I may have edged forward over the months. But for some reason I like to be in the same spot every week and that is just off centre slightly to the left.

There's me, in the middle to the left

There’s me, in the middle to the left

One Monday, about 18 months ago, a woman politely asked me if I’d mind swapping places with her so she could be next to her friend. Being the nice (or unassertive) person that I am I heartily agreed to her request without a pause. Afterwards as I took her old position (further to the left and near the back) I regretted my hurried reply. I even started to dislike this woman. How dare she? How dare she take my spot? Did she not realise how much I love routine? Why did she want to be by her friend? It wasn’t as if they’d be chatting! How rude! I became angry with her.

Then I started to worry that she’d be back the following week and would assume that my spot would be her ‘spot’. I could have kicked myself for throwing away my spot so readily. But I also felt cross with myself for being so silly and for also finding it difficult to deal with change.

The good news is that that lady didn’t go back every week and I managed to return to my spot the following Monday. Phew.

Is being a lover of routine a bad thing? I have so many routines and rituals in my life, just like my need to stand in the same place at Zumba. If I don’t eat meals regularly I get jittery. If I go to bed later than 11pm then anxiety may follow. If we run out of cheese I am throw into a complete state of nervousness. Perhaps routine is just a way to avoid this unpleasant feeling of anxiety and uncertainty. Or is it the need to have a control over my life that is driving my love of routine? Perhaps there are some people who thrive on uncertainty? Routine can be boring.

Was Paul Auster right in saying: ‘Failure is measured by the number of routines you have’? Am I missing possible adventures and experiences by sticking to my routine?

This man dislikes routine

This man dislikes routine

So perhaps I should stand in the far right-hand corner next Monday at Zumba. The thought makes me shudder but it might lead me to new adventures if I do.


The winner of the common sense award goes to…

This thought is related to my earlier Zumba lament. In fact I’ve had two thoughts today which I’ll combine into one. The first is that there is no point me worrying too much about my lack of skill with Zumba moves because you can’t be good at everything. I can draw (and paint on brick walls) . But I can’t dance. So what?

We're going on a bear hunt...

We’re going on a bear hunt…

I had a conversation with my middle son a few weeks’ ago about this subject. This was during a period when he was doing very well at school. He’d designed a street sign that had been selected for joint first prize. He’d had praise for his poetry and imaginative writing. Things were going well for him at school.

He was very happy with his little lot until he came out of school one day with his bottom lip wobbling. Concerned, I asked him what the matter was. He asked me: ‘Why do I always come one before last in all the practice races for Sports Day?’ I replied: ‘Nobody is good at everything. Perhaps running is not your thing?’

My boy trying his hardest on Sports Day

My boy trying his hardest on Sports Day

My second thought is related to the first thought: there are no prizes for excellence in common sense. It is interesting to me the talents that get noticed, such as art, sport, poetry, acting, singing, dancing or maths and the talents that don’t such as common sense. I don’t have common sense. I wish I did. I could do with some. I have many friends who have this in spades but they rarely get complemented on it (although I complement them because I notice it!). There are no awards given out for excellence in common sense. There isn’t an Nobel Prize in common sense. Yet common sense is a talent as valid as poetry or artistic ability. Something needs to be done about this. A child can be classed as ‘gifted and talented’ for all sorts of things (academic and non-academic) but not common sense.

My son may be able to write poetry but he wouldn’t be able tot run very far if chased by a bear. I may be able to paint but I can’t think on my feet in a crisis. I am sure that in cavemen times poetry and art would not have guaranteed survival, whereas running and using common sense might have helped. Luckily for my son we don’t very often encounter rampant bears on the loose. Fortunately we live in the 21st century. So I guess he’s not likely to be heading for the Olympics any time soon and I’m not about to be entering any dance contests either. We’ll just need to be content with our art and poetry pursuits.


Even after three years, why am I still no good at Zumba?

This is today’s weird thought. This morning, I decided to have a go at Zumba on the wii for the first time in at least 12 months. I was awful at it. Even my four-year-old commented on how my legs weren’t doing the same thing as the person on the TV. The thought I had later while in the usual place was: why am I still so rubbish at Zumba?

That's me on the left

That’s me on the left

Every Monday I go to a Zumba class, and I love it. I’ve been going every Monday for nearly three years now. I have hardly missed a class in all that time, using being over 200 miles away or being too ill to move as the only two excuses not to go. Yet I still can’t get my legs and arms to do the things they are supposed to do. Why is that? Is there a kink in the link between my brain and limbs?

Every week my brain watches Ali at the front and thinks ‘left leg there, right leg up, left arm down, right arm around head’ but my legs and arms just won’t do as they are told. Why do some people find it easy to coordinate all limbs together? I can’t do it. In fact if I try too hard I find I can’t do it even more. I collide with people, I hit people with my flailing arms, and I often find myself so lost in thought that I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing so end up jumping up and down in an improvised jig while everyone else carries on in synchronized harmony. Just as I feel as if I’ve nailed it, I get it wrong.

Where my best ideas come from

Where my best ideas come from

I also have problems remembering steps week-by-week. However many times we do a routine, I can’t quite remember it all. There are tracks that we’ve been dancing to for a few weeks at Zumba and I still have to stand in full view of Ali at the front or the  three very good Zumbaites who stand to the right and just in front of me. I admire the skill of these three people. I, on the other hand, resemble a drunken flamingo.

That's me at Zumba

That’s me at Zumba

I know that in reality none of this matters. The main thing is that I am enjoying it and benefiting from it in terms of physical (and mental) health. That I know is true on all counts. I absolutely love it.


Why am I yet to have a great 3am idea?

As an art student, ideas are very important to me. I have a lot of them. They float into my head at the strangest moments, while driving, at Zumba, while cycling around town and on the edge of sleep at 3am. Some are good, but most are not. I think if they were all good then I’d be overwhelmed. I’m glad that most are not. I haven’t got the time!

Where my best ideas come from

Where my best ideas come from

At 4.40am this morning I woke up and went to the toilet. While I was there, I started thinking about those 3am ideas that we all get and how they seem brilliant at 3am but shrivel up and die in the light of day. Why is that?

I don’t think I’ve had any life-changing 3am ideas: I could fill a wall in detailed post-it note drawings! How about making a giant sculpture out of ketchup bottles? Or I should cover a floor with sand and get people to draw with their feet in it. I could make a video starting my cat and call it ‘a day in the life of my cat’.

Creativity hour

Creativity hour

I’ve had a lot of 3am ideas that seemed life-changing at the time, but I think that more times than not I’ve dismissed them in the morning as fantastical. Not everyone shares my view. On googling ‘middle of the night ideas’ the Internet spews up many websites encouraging ways to harness these creative surges.

I wonder if sleeping on books would induce good ideas

I wonder if sleeping on books would induce good ideas

Picasso, famously, would sleep sitting up with a spoon in his mouth to try to trap those half-awake half-sleep ideas. He was a firm believer in their originality. The hope was that as his brain slipped from near sleep to sleep the spoon would fall out of his mouth and wake him up and he’d leap in the air, exclaim ‘aha!’ and head to a blank canvas.

I don’t think I want to try this, especially given that I don’t have a lot of faith in my ability to come up with good ideas in a semi-conscious state (my Zumba ideas are much better). And anyway, sleep is ace, why disrupt it?