Thursday, December 25, 2014

Fitting In With The EMZ Crew

So, I do Zumba now.

Early Morning Zumba, also known as EMZ, is exactly what it says on the tin. We meet at 5:30 a.m. five days a week. This makes it convenient for those of us who have to work. It's also a completely free community service offered to whoever wants to show up. Sinai Pauni founded EMZ back in 2010 as a way to practice teaching Zumba. It eventually evolved into the community it has now. None of the instructors are paid to come every morning, set up the music, and provide an entertaining workout for the day. EMZ has attracted lots of faithful followers who have just as much enthusiasm for the program as the instructors.
I'm the one with the Batgirl shirt.
I started attending EMZ about a week or so after I came home from my mission. I needed something to keep me on a schedule. Apparently waking up at 5, much earlier than I ever did on my mission, was exactly that thing. As an added bonus, I am losing weight, feeling healthier, and experiencing more energy than ever before. Exercise does tend to do that to you.

But some days I just really don't want to go to Zumba. And yet I go.

I don't really know why. I remember one morning getting out of bed and feeling so physically tired that I felt sick and unable to move my body. But I went anyway. Other mornings, sleep just feels so darn good and I do not want to get out of my warm, snuggly bed. But when my alarm goes off, and then the snooze alarm finally wakes me up, I get dressed and head out the door.

When first started going to Zumba, I felt out of place and self conscious as a white newcomer among a veteran crowd of women, at least half of whom are Polynesian, the other half Hispanic. I knew everyone would judge my dancing and ability to follow the instructors, which I messed up on a lot. Finding a place on the gym floor that no one had claimed proved doable, but somewhat difficult. I eventually settled at the middle of the free throw line on the right side of the gym.

What really set them apart from me and my family, though, didn't have anything to do with skin tone or cultural background. A culture had developed in those years before I started attending -- one where everyone came to class with an enthusiasm I just don't understand. They shout along with the songs, run up to the stage to participate with the instructors, and several come wearing matching shirts, costumes, or accessories. In short, they are just so freaking happy and I don't get it.

We didn't plan this.
Slowly, I'm coming to have more fun with going to Zumba. I haven't made any friends there yet, but I now go on stage when the instructors ask me to participate. I even jump into group pictures and wore a costume to the Halloween party. (Shoulder Angel from Studio C.) I'm still not as crazy as all the other attendees and volunteers, and I probably never will be. I don't feel the need to document my exercising with photos and videos that I immediately post on Facebook. But I also don't mind trying to have fun while I'm attempting to move my hips as fluidly as Sinai does.

I would liken this to coming to church every Sunday, and even beginning a habit of church attendance for new converts. It's weird walking into a new group of people that you don't know, but you intend to get to know. It will be impossible to just jump in like you know what you're doing already and not make mistakes. The only way to learn the rules to the established culture is to keep exposing yourself to them. That means you have to keep coming, even on those days that you really don't want to be there. Those days suck, but you have to push through it to get the real payoff that comes weeks later.

It's the happiness. Why are those Mormons, and the EMZ crew, so freaking happy? The same reason: Living the gospel brings true joy. Whether it's keeping the Sabbath day holy or living the Word of Wisdom, consistently working towards true principles brings lasting happiness, more than anything else that gives instant, fleeting gratification.

Wait, going to Zumba is part of the gospel? In Doctrine and Covenants 130: 20-21, it's explained that, "There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated -- And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated." Taking care of our bodies is a commandment from God. So [regular attendance to EMZ]+[consuming healthy food]=Blessings!

If you'd like to join us early in the morning, Monday through Friday, EMZ meets at the Stake Center at 961 W Fremont Ave. (1122 South), Salt Lake City, UT 84104.

And remember: For an easier time getting up in the morning, do not argue with the alarm clock. Snooze buttons kill.

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